OK I may have found my new sport.
I think it was that little thrill I got every time I hit the target that was the clincher.
It tapped into my competitive spirit and it was fun – plain and simple.
But as I learnt yesterday afternoon, to be good at this, required a lot of skill…
I was one of the up to 50 people who had made their way to Range Road yesterday afternoon where we experienced first hand what it was like to unload a rifle at a range.
To be honest I’d never associated gun handling with sport, but when I saw the invitation to try my hand, I couldn’t resist.
It’s silly of me I know. Goulburn’s own Michael Diamond was one of the best clay shooters in the world… but I’m happy to say I can now vouch for the skill required to be an accurate shot.
It’s hard… really hard.
Hitting a small target from 50 metres away is an achievement, but to be accurate… well that’s a different ball game.
It takes a lot of skill, precision, self control and patience to be good.
It makes sense then that shooting is an Olympic sport. People who can hit a bullseye from one hundred metres away, or better yet, a moving target like Michael Diamond, deserve their Olympic athlete title.
President of the Goulburn Shooters Club Ken Kenchinton did his best to get the most out the newcomers.
I overheard him explain to a young boy.
“Just control you breathing. Focus on the target. Now take a breathe - but not too big - then exhale slightly... Shoot!”
As I stepped up I tried to remember those words of advice.
But as you look down the range towards the tiniest of targets, you realise the motions of your body are swaying the barrel.
You then try to concentrate, shut out everything so your one focus is being as accurate as possible. Then bang!
It’s safe to say I wasn’t the best shot on the day. I’d fired a .22 calibre rifle before, but it had been a long time between drinks.
However others who attended seemed to be naturally gifted with the precise motor skills required.
Ashley Langham was one of them. The 26-year-old had grown up firing .22s with Goulburn’s Air force Cadets.
He told me he was there with the intention of joining the club and using the range as a weekend pastime.
On the other hand, Christine Norris and her two teenaged daughters have never even held a rifle before.
Like most of the people who signed up yesterday, they came out of curiosity.
The resounding consensus with everyone was their desire to try the sport in a controlled and safe environment.
But what struck me was the amount of young people, families in particular, who had come to check the day out.
It was a sight for sore eyes for Kenchinton.
He explained to me the need for young people to take over the mantle from the older generation. “Last year we would have only had about nine people come and try this out,” he said.
“We need younger people to come and continue the sport from us older guys, so it’s just fantastic to see so many curious people, and females too, who want to come check us out.”
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