Woolwich Barracks is being vigorously tested as a London 2012 Olympic venue this week as it hosts the International Shooting Sport Federation World Cup.
The controversial temporary pod-like ranges built within the historic home of the Royal Artillery will be the site for the first medals of the Olympics.
The International Shooting Sport Federation World Cup competition, part of the official Olympic sports testing programme, the London Prepares Series, is therefore a vital test event for the Games, and for the military personnel involved in organising the event.
Shooting Competition Manager for the London Olympics, Major Peter Underhill, said:
There are nearly 850 competitors from 97 countries here at this competition, which is more than double the number who will be taking part in the Olympics. So if we can manage this, we know we can do anything.
“This is an actual world cup competition taking place, but it is also a test event for the Olympics in this venue. > > For the Olympians, most of whom are taking part in this competition, it is important that they get used to the field of play here and the dynamics within the venue. While for the organising staff this kind of robust test is vital.
Major Underhill, from The Rifles, has been involved in organising the shooting ranges and events for the last seven years in the run-up to the Games. He is one of just four serving Army personnel involved in the process:
It is a huge event, and there are a lot of challenges to make sure it meets all the technical specifications and standards,” he explains. “As an Army officer it is an honour to have this event within such an iconic Army venue.
When you see the façade of the Royal Artillery barracks, which dates back to the 18th century, you can see all this history and tradition alongside a modern Olympic sport. The site combines these two vital elements, and for the Army to be a part of that is an honour.
The Woolwich Barracks venue will be home to 390 Olympians during the Games, competing in 15 shooting events.