Natalie Rooney battling wind to find form

LOOKING FOR FORM: Natalie Rooney.
LOOKING FOR FORM: Natalie Rooney.

Finding form with the shotgun is hard enough without strong winds blowing the clay targets in odd directions.

That's the problem Natalie Rooney is facing this week, as she looks to peak at the New Zealand Clay Target Championships in Hamilton, ahead of the Down The Line World Championships next week.

The Timaru shooter isn't happy with her early performances at the national champs, but said the goal is to hit her straps, or her clay targets, but the end of this week.

"It's been a bit tough ... I did alright, but I'm not that happy. The targets are up and down and all over the place with the wind, so it's tough going out there.

"Nationals is our pinnacle event for New Zealand, obviously, so it's very important."

The 26-year-old is the defending DTL Trap Shooting World Champion, having won the last event in 2012. She also won the world title in 2008, and backed that up with a third place finish in 2010. This year she hopes to back up better, but admitted it's a tough ask in her chosen sport.

"I'm trying not to think about it, to be honest," she said.

"I've done it before and I didn't really shoot that well. It's challenging, especially if you're going to different countries and you don't know the conditions.

"I know these conditions, and they're going to be pretty tough. Hopefully I'll be able to pull it out."

More than 600 competitors from all across the globe have been arriving in town for the event this week.

Event sponsorship co-ordinator Barry Williamson said Rooney is one of the biggest Kiwi hopes for a world title, but several age graders were also a good chance.

It's the Australians who are expected to be hardest to beat, as notoriously strong trap shooters.

"The biggest contingent is from Australia. Nearly 150 shooters from Australia. They're very strong in Down The Line. Darren Nicholls is here, who won in 2010.

"There's six former World Champions competing from around the world. It's pretty strong."

The last time New Zealand hosted the World Championships was 2002, and this year the number of entries has had to be been capped at 640 entries due to a lack of space.

Meanwhile, Natalie won't be the only Rooney competing during the nationals and worlds next week, with two brothers and her father also taking aim.

The World Championships start on Monday, with New Zealand nationals finishing on Friday.

Pre-worlds events will be held this weekend.

Fairfax Media