A shooting contest could be held alongside Birmingham’s Commonwealth Games , following the decision to exclude the sport from the games themselves.
Sports Minister Tracey Crouch told MPs that the Government would consider any bid for a shooting competition to run alongside the 2022 Games, after they complained about the failure to include the discipline.
A shooting ground in Bisley, Surrey, could be used for the contest. Although this is a long way from Birmingham, MPs pointed out that the same site was used when Manchester hosted the games in 2002.
Ms Crouch said: “We look at all bids from international sports and put them alongside other event strategy decisions. If there were a bid, we would pay attention to it.”
She was responding to Gavin Robinson, an MP from Northern Ireland, who asked her: “Would the Government welcome a bid from the shooting fraternity in the UK to organise an international competition that could run alongside, or coincide with the timetable of the Commonwealth games?”
Birmingham’s successful bid to host the games did not include plans for shooting, which is classed as an optional sport by the Commonwealth Games Federation.
This is partly because there are no suitable facilities in Birmingham or nearby, according to Ms Crouch, although some MPs suspect that organisers of the Birmingham bid are "ideologically opposed" to target shooting.
Instead, the optional sports and disciplines submitted as part of the bid included three-on-three basketball and three-on-three para-basketball; track cycling and para-track cycling; mountain biking; diving; rhythmic gymnastics; and para-triathlon.
But a number of MPs attempted to persuade the Government that shooting should be added.
Jim Shannon, a DUP MP representing Strangford in Northern Ireland, pointed out that the 2018 Commonwealth games in the Gold Coast, Australia, will include four shooting disciplines: full bore, pistol, rifle and shotgun.
And he said shooting was a popular sport in Northern Ireland and should not be associated with violence.
“Target shooting has a real place in our community, and the skills of those who play deserve recognition. This is a sport in which we are recognised.
“The connotations of gun violence must be removed from this discussion, because these are legitimate, law-abiding, licence-holding people who have the opportunity to shoot.”
Worcestershire MP Mark Garnier (Con Wyre Forest) said encouraging children to learn how to shoot could be good for them.
Many people found the idea “abhorrent”, he said, but he continued: “Actually, I was taught how to shoot at a very early age. One of the great things about teaching children how to shoot is that they learn an incredible amount of discipline and an incredible amount of respect for each other and for sport,
“We end up with very responsible young adults coming out as a result of all the discipline and camaraderie that we get around shooting sports.”
Ms Crouch told the House of Commons that the 2022 Commonwealth Games would showcase Birmingham to the world.
She said: “We all welcome the positive opportunities that hosting an event such as the games can bring to Birmingham and the UK as a whole.
“The games will showcase Britain to the rest of the world, providing new economic growth and trade opportunities to the West Midlands and beyond.
“In addition, the games will leave a legacy of new and refurbished sports facilities in Birmingham and the west midlands, including a fully refurbished Alexander athletics stadium and a brand new aquatics centre in Sandwell.”
She added: “The Government have been working closely with its partners, Birmingham City Council, Commonwealth Games England and the Commonwealth Games Federation to begin plans for delivering a unique and exciting games in 2022.
“The appointment process for the chair of the organising committee was launched last week, and plans to deliver an amazing handover ceremony at the end of the 2018 Gold Coast games are also under way.
“We hope that, with the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting around the corner, the handover ceremony will be a great opportunity to demonstrate our commitment to the Commonwealth movement and to show the world what Birmingham has to offer.”