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A Women's Sports Alliance Production

Ruth is a British-Malawian international athlete in the sport of target shooting. She is currently on the British Olympic World Class Programme and a member of the Team England National Squad. She made history in 2018 by becoming the first black athlete to represent England and be crowned English Champion in the sport. As she is the only black shooter competing at an elite level within Britain, she has been campaigning for an increase in diversity within all shooting sports both in the UK and internationally.

Ruth Mwandumba | #TargetChange: A British Shooting Campaign | Women's Sports Alliance
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As part of the #TargetChange initiative, we worked with Ruth, British Shooting and ELEY on a campaign launch film. Ruth powerfully performed a spoken word piece, written by herself and the Women's Sports Alliance designed and produced the film concept. The film was featured on BBC News and BBC Sport.

Let's find out more about Ruth...

“Of course you’re good at shooting, you’re black.” This is just one example of the ignorant comments Ruth Mwandumba has heard after revealing she is a competitive, elite international rifle shooter. 

She aims to consign this and other stereotypes to history, although England’s first-ever black rifle shooting champion wishes she did not have to. 

“When I began stereotypes weren’t something I thought about, it was only when it started happening to me that I saw this could be an issue which is putting black people off as they worry about the negativity,” she states. “It needs to change.”  

Mwandumba was introduced to the sport as an activity during Army Cadets at school when she was 13, but at the time knew nothing about the discipline or where it could lead. 

It wasn’t until she began her undergraduate at 18 and discovered a local club in London that she realised there was a potential route to competitive shooting. It became a major focus when she was 22 and moved back to her home city – Liverpool. By then though she was well aware of the attitudes many would express after revealing her passion. 

“A lot of the time when people have made the comments to me they’ve always done it in a jokey way or as ‘banter’ without realising that it’s not something that you can joke about as it actually does affect our lives,” she tells the Women’s Sports Alliance (WSA). 


“People see me competing at an elite level and I don’t want to say it’s optics, it’s not, but I want people to see me and see it’s not like that, it is a genuine sport that should be taken seriously and you can compete in from all kinds of backgrounds.” 

In addition to her historic English title, several other domestic honours and gold at the 2018 Commonwealth Shooting Championships, last year Mwandumba was named as one of the inaugural athletes for BBC Sport’s ‘Generation Next’ series, as well as the Women’s Sport Trust’s ‘2021 Unlocked’ initiative. 

While delighted by the recognition the shooter has utilised these opportunities and others to create greater discussion about the challenges and ‘micro aggressions’ she has endured. 


She hopes this improves understanding and ultimately boosts diversity in her sport. 

“When I go to competitions and I’m the only black person there, it’s difficulty,” she reveals. “Obviously I’m there to do my job, compete, perform and then go home, but it’s hard. It’s almost like an extra thing in my pre-competition routine is to put those thoughts out of my head as I’m very aware I’m the only one that looks like me in the shooting hall. 

“It can affect me if I think about it too much and I need to be focusing on what I can do well, so there are lots of areas that I think need to be tackled.” 

Funding is another area of concern for the shooter who is seeking sponsors to help her bid for future Olympics – Paris 2024 and Los Angeles 2028. 

Mwandumba currently balances at packed schedule which consists of her training, her PhD studies and working overnights in compliance for a local supermarket. It’s a schedule she openly refers to as an “absolute killer” but one she must do to achieve her ambitions. 

“As well as ‘air rifle’ I’m now doing ‘3 position rifle’ so I’ve had to buy a new rifle for that and all the additional accessories you need for it,” she states. 

“So there’s new equipment, kit but also a lot of the competitions domestically and internationally are self-funded. If they’re local it’s not too bad, but the international ones can end up costing up to £800 and if you have four-five of those a year as a completely self-funded athlete then it really adds up. I’m looking for help in any of these areas.” 


Mwandumba is in the second year of her PhD, which focus on epidemiology and specifically the study of infectious complex wounds, with a case study focusing on Malawi. 

“My dad does research in infectious diseases and he’s a doctor as well so he spends most of his time in Malawi which is where a lot of my family originates from,” she says. 

“He does research out there and it’s part of the reason why for my PhD I decided to go down the route of Malawi; although it’s completely different kinds of infections that I’m interested in compared to what my dad does. 


“I wanted to feel like I could do something to give back to the country. I’m born and raised here (UK), but I’m still very much in touch with my family and my connections over there. I’d like to think that by the end of it (PhD) I’d take what I know and almost present suggestions about what we can do to make treatment pathways better.” 

Ruth admits her commitment to this cause could impact her preparations for the Paris 2024 Olympics, but while those Games are still an ambition, so is Los Angeles 2028. 

“I’ve always said Paris will hopefully be the first one, but I’m dreaming of competing at multiple Olympics,” says Mwandumba. 


“The pandemic has made things more difficult with competitions being cancelled and it means less opportunities to put in scores, but whether it’s Paris, LA or the next Commonwealths (2026) l don’t plan on stopping anytime soon.” 

Because while Mwandumba has her personal goals, those aspirations also include driving profound change in the sport of shooting. 

“When it became more apparent I was the only person who looked like me, I set out and made it a goal of mine to do what I can to change that,” she states. 


“I don’t really like to see myself as a role model, but I get messages from people all the time saying I’ve inspired them to get involved in the sport and that they like watching my journey and that I’m making change. 

“That motivates me even more and I’ll do what I can to make this sport more diverse.” 

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