In the mid 1970’s, having been seconded to the Civil Engineering consulting firm of Hawkins, Hawkins and Osborne during the construction of Port Elizabeth’s Settlers freeway, I met with a Welshman, Peter Conolly and thus began a friendship that has endured till this day. We shared a common interest in hunting and fishing and pursued these pastimes together with relish. He often regaled me with tales of him shooting rabbits and duck with a shotgun back in Wales, but having grown up being exposed to rifles only, these stories of shotgunning held no glamour for me. Then, in the summer of 1982, he invited me to try my hand at clay target shooting at a local club. So there I was, at the ripe old age of 31, the first time ever with a shotgun in my hands, about to shoot moving targets on a Trap range! I remember the gun well – it was an old Spanish Laurona full choke side by side field gun with double triggers. Suffice to say, when the smoke had cleared, I had shot 18 of the 25 clays and my love affair with this sport was cemented!
My inherent competitive nature soon got the better of me and I engaged the shooting circuit with relish, trying my hand at everything but only successfully coming to terms with Trap (both ATA and DTL), U/Trench and O/Trap, as well as FITASC Sporting, in which disciplines I was simultaneously CTSASA classified in the Open class in the late 1980’s. The financial realities of the sport, however, made me concentrate competitively on the gun-up disciplines only.
Herewith a list of some of my achievements:
1988 – Obtained Springbok Colours – ATA Trap
Member of the South African team at the Grand American in Dayton, Ohio.
Shot a personal average of 97 over 800 targets
1991 – South African Trap Champion
1993 – South African Trap Champion
1996 – South African Universal Trench Champion
Awarded CTSASA Sportsman of the Year
1997 – Obtained national Protea Colours – Olympic Trap
Member of the South African team at the World championships in Lima, Peru
Awarded CTSASA Shooter of the Year
1998 – Obtained National Protea Colours – Olympic Trap –
Member of the South African team at the World championships in Barcelona, Spain
2002 – South African Universal Trench Champion
For the past 15 years I have not been shooting competitively on the national circuit, opting rather to only shoot the local trials within my province in an attempt to make the EC Chairman’s Cup team each year. I am indeed fortunate to have missed only one event since its inception in the 1980’s!
Administratively, I have also served the interests of the sport by being on the committee of the then Port Elizabeth Gun Club and now Port Elizabeth Clay Target Club for some 26 years in portfolios ranging from Club Captain, Secretary, Treasurer and Vice-Chairman respectively (currently as Vice-Chairman)
I am also currently the Chairman of the Eastern Province Clay Target Shooting Association, a position I have held for the past 19 years.
I have also served, as the Eastern Cape delegate, on the National Executive Committee of the Clay Target Shooting Association of South Africa for the past 20-odd years or so, during which time I have been privileged to have served under the last 5 presidents. I have seen the CTSASA grow from humble beginnings into a functional association, always moving with the ever changing requirements of our sport and the demands put on it by a diverse and growing membership base. It has indeed been a pleasure to have worked with those delegates and members that only had the best interests of our sport at heart.
As I reach the twilight of my shooting career and I reflect back on it, I consider myself very privileged to have rubbed shoulders with some of the great shooters, names and characters of our Sport, some sadly no longer with us. I have made some good friends, some of them having been my fiercest competitors! I have seen youngsters being introduced into the Sport by their fathers and watched them blossom into champions. I have witnessed and shared in the triumphs and despair of my fellow shooters, especially the anguish or joy when that ONE target hit or lost made the difference between success or failure. It has been a wonderful journey thus far and I hope to continue to be a part of it and serve the sport in whichever way I can, for as long as I can.