An English shooting champion is the ambassador of a new initiative to encourage more people to get involved in the sport. Ruth Mwandumba is a two-times English air rifle champion and the first black woman to represent England in ISSF shooting disciplines.
British Shooting has teamed up with the global story telling platform Women’s Sports Alliance and target ammunition manufacturer Eley to ensure its #TargetChange initiative reaches as many people as possible. It will give people the chance to try the sport with taster sessions.
Ruth approached British Shooting with the idea. She says: “When I first started shooting I noticed that there was like a lack of diversity. And as there are in a lot of sports. But basically, it was something that I wanted to change and aspects of British shooting. And I told them that, you know, would they be willing to work with me on that?”
Ruth says it was a coincidence that at the same time they were launching the #TargetChange initiative which tackles the same issues. She says: “I’ve been working with them and we kind of came together and made this collaboration of target change. So, it’s not just about diversity. We just want to encourage more people to get involved in the sport and educate people about the sport.”
Ruth was introduced to the sport as an activity during army cadets at school when she was 13. It was when she was 22 she took it up competitively without realising where it would lead. The shooting champion says very few people realise shooting is an Olympic sport. She says: “For me, that was one of the key issues. I just wanted people to know about it and let them know what we do. And so hopefully with this initiative, people become more aware of the sport, and they’ll be more keen to get involved.”
Ruth is hopeful if people know more about her journey and what she went through it might encourage others to do the same thing. hem to kind of do the same thing. She says: “I think probably one of the biggest milestones for me was seven months after I took up Air Rifle and I was crowned English champion. And, and for me, it was just I worked really hard over those seven months because I felt as though I was playing catch up because I joined the sport quite late. And that moment for me was it was like, okay, all of the hard work I’ve been doing has paid off and it kind of solidified that it was what I wanted to do.”
Ruth says the shooting community is a great community to be a part of. She says: “Everyone. I’ve ever met within the community just really wants the best for everyone. They want everyone to succeed, they want people to try new things. And I think that it’s rare to find that community feeling within sport.”
Coming to the sport as a junior meant ruth had to play catch up. She says: “One of the biggest barriers for me is seeing whether I’d be able to get to the level that I am when I hadn’t had as much experience as everybody else.”
Hard work paid off and Ruth has succeeded. She says: “When you get to a competitive level, I’d say that the ratio of males and females is, is very equal. And so luckily like gender’s never really played a part in that. And race wise, I think, you know, when I was first starting shooting, there was a bit of, you know, ignorance. There was some comments about, you know, the fact that I was black and a shooter.”
Ruth refused to let this get to her. She says: “It definitely doesn’t define me. Regardless of my race, I’m still I like to think I’m still a very talented shooter. I always kind of just let my kind of talent do the talking.”
Ruth says if she experience ignorant comments she tries to educate people and hope they’ll pass that on.
Ruth says she never intended to become an ambassador. She says: “It fell into my lap because I was very vocal about certain things. When I get messages from people saying that I’ve inspired them to take up shooting or they’ve really listened to what I’ve said. For me, it means everything, because it means that you know, people are willing to listen, willing to learn.”
Ruth is hopeful she can be a role model for other people who will take up the sport.
If you want to support Ruth in her bid to get to the Olympics in Paris in 2024 and Los Angeles in 2028 you can follow her on Facebook.