It’s the thrill of clay target shooting.
“That instant result,” says Ben Tuck, long serving coach of the newly crowned Tauranga Boys College national clay target shooting champion team, and himself a double A-grade shooter.
“It’s an adrenalin sport to shoot and hit a flying target. And when you hit and hit well - I am talking smoking the target and turning it to dust - then it is exhilarating.”
And when the smoke and dust had cleared at the Hamilton clay target range recently, Hamish Williamson, Devin Holland, Shaun Gwillim, Brady Anderson and Joel Edmonds of Tauranga Boys College had shot 276 out of 300 points to become the best secondary school skeet shooting team in the country.
They also had to overcome appalling conditions in heavy wind and rain to win the title for the second time in three years.
They won from 42 other teams and 310 individuals shooters.
“They put pressure on themselves to succeed,” says coach Tuck. ”They wanted to excel. And while it’s an individual sport, it’s created around a team environment. TBC is very team oriented.”
And skeet shooting is not just going out on the range to blast targets. And it’s not like a rifle where you place the end of the barrel and the bead on a target. And it’s not just shooting holes in bits of paper.
“It’s like using a golf club or hitting a cricket or tennis ball. You don’t look at the club, bat or the racquet. Clay target is a hand-eye coordinated sport and it demands a process, discipline and skill.
“The process is the team getting out on the mark early, watching where the targets are flying, getting your head in the right space and deciding where you are going to hold your eye. Because you don’t hold your eye on the gun or trap, you hold your eye above that.”
The Tauranga Boys College clay target team invested time, passion and a will to win. They practiced every Wednesday night at the Bay of Plenty Clay Target Club’s range at TECT Park - a round trip of 70 kilometres. “And the sport, that discipline and the camaraderie develops them into fine young men by the time they are 17.”
To encourage young shooters, the club invested thousands of dollars in ten 12-gauge specialised target guns. The weapons are hired out at a nominal cost for the seven months of the inter-school shooting competition, making the sport affordable to the boys.
“Then some parents have outlaid six-to-nine thousand dollars for a gun when their boy’s shooting skills start developing. But the good thing is that in 10 years the weapon will have retained its value.”
Coach Tuck says there was also some fine individual shooting at the national secondary school championships. Brady Anderson was second in the NZ point score and Shaun Gwillim was second in the NZ single barrel.
In the North Island Championships, Hamish Williamson was second in the single barrel and the college finished a close second in the Super 8, a competition between the top eight boys’ colleges.
The team is coached by Ben and Tiggy Clayton.