Boys winners with moving targets

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A Gore High School pupil shot to victory in a national competition late last month.

Hugh Sprenger (16) won the senior skeet shooting at the New Zealand Clay Target Association Secondary School Championships during the recent school holidays.

Other members of the Gore High team also did well.

Patrick Johnston (16) came third in senior skeet shooting.

Caleb Crawford (15) and Hugh also placed second in the two-person skeet competition.

Keeping a clear mind was important in order to shoot well, Hugh said.

“It’s a mental game; it’s not just a physical game.

“Even an itty-bitty thing in the back of your head can psych you out. You’ve got to focus on your next target, don’t worry about your last one.”

The team also competed in Down The Line shooting during the championships.

However the Waimumu teenager preferred skeet shooting.

“It’s a bit more of a challenge because the targets are going all different angles.”

It was his first time competing at nationals, Hugh said. However the championship did not appear different from other competitions because it was held as several smaller events throughout the country to err on the safe side of social distancing.

The Gore High team was one of a dozen squads that travelled to Christchurch to compete.

“There’s usually 60 squads.”

His grandfather bought him a gun of his own and introduced him to shooting.

In his early years the pair would go rabbit shooting together.

His grandfather later took him to the shooting range where he was a member.

“He got me to shoot a couple of targets.

“I was better than he thought I was going to be.”

However he did not believe natural talent was to credit for his victory.

The secret to his success was practice and “really good coaches”.

DTL coach Scott Wilson and skeet coach Kelvin Gutsell had both represented New Zealand.

“I’m thrilled for them,” Mr Gutsell said.

“I knew they were capable. It’s whether they can put it together on the day.”