Hot shot wins NZ shooting title at age of 14

BEN STRANG
Last updated 05:00 08/03/2014
Mitchell Isles
MARK TAYLOR/ Fairfax NZ
HOT SHOT: Mitchell Isles.

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Bill Iles is a legend on the trap shooting scene, but it’s his 14-year-old grandson who is making waves at the New Zealand nationals.

Mitchell Iles, from Melbourne, Australia, took out the Down-The-Line New Zealand Single Barrel Championship open title on Thursday at the Waikato Clay Target Club.

It is the first major open title the teenager has won in his three years of shooting, and he beat some of the best names in the business to do it.

Current world champion Australian Darren Nicholls, British shooter Paul Chaplow and NZ’s top shooter Jon Beddis were unable to beat the youngster, even when it came down to a sudden death shootoff.

In the single barrel event, shooters have only one chance to hit the clay, and shoot at 50 traps.

Iles and six other shooters went a perfect 50 for 50 in the event, and then the teenager outlasted his opponents in sudden death, shooting a perfect 61 of 61.

‘‘I knew I had a chance, but it could be anybody’s game’’, Iles said.

‘‘I feel really good. My pop, one thing he wanted me to do was win a national title. It’s something not many people get to do, and I was lucky enough to win it.’’

Luck wasn’t really a factor for Iles despite his modesty.

It was his concentration that proved the difference during the event.

He said that mental side of shooting is something he has worked hard on, and is the key to being a good shooter.

‘‘Shooting, it’s mainly just concentration. If you lose concentration, that’s normally where you win or lose.’’

Iles also claimed the national junior title at the event, and has plenty of junior titles back home in Australia to his name.

Grandfather Bill said his grandson is ‘‘15 times better than I was’’ at his age, even though he admits he didn’t start shooting more seriously until his 30s.

Iles knows all about his grandfather’s efforts in the sport, and hopes to emulate him in the future.

‘‘He’s won 29 national titles, he’s won the world championship, and he’s won plenty of other championships, I couldn’t name them all.

‘‘I’ve managed to beat him this week so far. Every now and again he comes and beats me, but he hasn’t gone so well this week so far.’’

The Down-The-Line World Championships start at the Waikato club on Monday, and Iles is hoping to be near the top of the field again when that starts.

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There will be 640 shooters from around the globe shooting at the Worlds, and event sponsorship co-ordinator Barry Williamson said Australians will be tough to beat.

When he said that Iles wasn’t in the equation, although he will simply add to the stellar Australian shooters taking part.

- Stuff

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