Belfast Telegraph

Ryan Farquhar gunning for new target as clay pigeon shooter

By Ivan Little

Northern Ireland marksmen have out-gunned their opponents to win a series of major honours in Britain - cheered on by an Ulster motorcycle star who was critically injured at the North West 200 last year.

Ryan Farquhar, who has set his sights on becoming a member of the international clay pigeon shooting team, hailed the victories at the down-the-line tournaments in Scotland as a magnificent boost for Northern Ireland.

The shooting stars of the seniors' side won the 83rd Home International tournament in Falkirk, beating England to the title. It is the first time in nine years that they have emerged victorious.

Northern Ireland finished runners up in the super-veteran section to Scotland, but there was more glory to come.

Fermanagh shooter Wayne Balfour was crowned British Open champion, while Timothy McCauley from Rathfriland won the junior title.

"They all did brilliantly. It's been a wonderful achievement," said 41-year-old Ryan. "Everyone was delighted to see all our competitors shooting so well."

Ryan, who has more than 200 motorcycle victories under his belt, wasn't in Scotland just as a spectator and competed in the individual competitions, although he didn't win.

The Dungannon man had narrowly missed out on a place on the international team.

Selection depends on performances throughout the season and though Ryan's average scores were good enough to suggest he might make the squad, he fell just short of his target because he wasn't able to compete in two of the compulsory qualifiers due to motorcycling commitments.

For even though Ryan has retired from riding he still runs the KMR Kawasaki team which he set up in 2009 and owns.

"A lot of the dates clashed and the motorbikes took priority," he said.

"But I would love to represent my country at more sports than just motorcycling.

"Hopefully the timings won't overlap next time around."

Ryan actually took up clay pigeon shooting a couple of years before his NW200 high-speed crash in 2016.

A collision with another racer, Dan Cooper, during the Vauxhall Supertwin race ended his career on two wheels.

Ryan had made a comeback to racing two years earlier after retiring once before - when his uncle Trevor Ferguson was killed in an accident at the Manx GP on the Isle of Man - but the North West spill ensured Ryan would hang up his leathers for good.

He said: "Because of my injuries I'm not able to get on a bike but I can take a few painkillers and go shooting. And that suits me just fine.

"You couldn't have two sports which are further apart.

"Getting on a bike and going at 200mph is one thing," Ryan added.

"In shooting we have to walk a maximum of about 15 yards and move the gun a maximum of 22 degrees.

"But even so there's still an adrenalin rush if you're doing well."

Ryan said that he still gets a buzz of motorcycling racing too and he didn't completely rule out the possibility of another return to the road.

"You never know," he admitted.

"Down the line I might think I want to be back out doing it.

"But for the moment I am not fit for it," he said, admitting that going back to the North West in May for the 2017 series wasn't easy.

"It was emotional because of all that I'd been through over the previous 12 months," he said.

Despite the painful memories of 12 months ago, Englishman Michael Rutter made his day when he won the Supertwin race on a bike that Ryan had prepared for his KMR Kawasaki team.

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