Shooting star

Last updated 05:00 21/10/2012

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Andy Peter is a vastly experienced skeet shooter and a very good one having represented New Zealand on several occasions, so he knows most things there are to know about the sport.

At least that's what he thought until a recent trip to the United States proved a real eye-opener.

Andy competed with four other New Zealanders as individuals in the 10-day world skeet shooting championships at San Antonio in Texas.

The number of people competing and the standard among the 800 competitors, many of them fulltime professionals, was amazing, he said.

"In one event I shot a maximum 100. If you did that in New Zealand maybe two or three might do the same. At San Antonio, 72 shot the maximum the same day I did."

The competition was tough both physically and especially mentally with extremely hot conditions adding to the challenge.

There were two skeet houses in operation for each shooter, throwing out two different targets into the air with angles and direction changing slightly throughout.

Each competitor shot four rounds of 25 targets which takes just over an hour and by the end of that you are pretty exhausted, Andy said.

He's always wanted to go and shoot in the US, having chased competitions all over New Zealand and Australia previously.

A friend wanted him to go several years ago but being involved setting up vineyards on the family farm in the Awatere Valley prevented him from doing so.

The same friend asked him again to go this year and he took up the offer.

"I just got back into shooting at the Marlborough Clay Target Club last year. I brought myself a flash new gun. It was a massive event in America. The biggest I've ever seen.

"The biggest facility in New Zealand has five skeet fields. The outfit in San Antonio had 50. It was an eye-opener.

"I've never seen guns like that before. High levels of engraving. Gold in them. There were a pair of Purdy side by side guns worth $178,000.

"Most of my representative shooting was done with a $2500 gun in the early days. You've still got to point it in the right direction, however much the gun costs."

Andy found his American hosts extremely hospitable and very patriotic, playing their national anthem every morning before competition.

The Texans love guns, Andy said and he had no trouble travelling with his $15,000 Perazzi weapon in the US because he had the correct documentation.

The competition at San Antonio was different from New Zealand. Here it's all 12-gauge but at San Antonio you shot 100 each with 12, 20, 28, 410 and double skeet and as the gauge narrowed, it obliviously became more difficult to hit the targets consistently.

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Andy is enjoying being back competing at the Marlborough Clay Target Club after a few years break to set up his vineyards on their 2000-acre Awatere Valley farm which also runs sheep and cattle.

Born and bred in the Awatere, Andy is a second generation farmer on the property. Andy and his wife Michelle have three adult children. Now the vineyards are established, he has more free time and is keen to return to San Antonio.

"I'd like to think I could do better next year. I know the format and conditions now."

Andy said anyone wanting more information about the Marlborough Clay Target Club can call him on 575 7514.

- The Marlborough Express

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