Aim­ing to en­thuse oth­ers

Central Leader - - NEWS - By JESS LEE

CON­CEN­TRA­TION, con­sis­tency and a can-do at­ti­tude.

It might take a bit more than that to win a gold medal but that’s all you need to try your hand at tar­get shoot­ing.

Al­most any­one can take a shot at the sport, Par­a­lympic gold medal­list Michael John­son says.

The 38-year-old is on the hunt for more mem­bers of all ages and abil­i­ties to join the Auck­land Parafed Shoot­ing Club in Mt Eden where he coaches both able-bod­ied and dis­abled shoot­ers.

‘‘It’s some­thing dif­fer­ent from the usual sports. There’s no real lim­i­ta­tions on your phys­i­cal abil­ity. You just need a can-do at­ti­tude.’’

Ta­bles and stands are used by shoot­ers who are un­able to sup­port the weight of the ri­fle them­selves.

It is as much a men­tal chal­lenge as it is a phys­i­cal one, he says.

‘‘You can win or lose by a quar­ter of a mil­lime­tre – you have to be pa­tient as well as want­ing to give it a good go.’’

The three-time Par­a­lympian took up the sport as a hobby 10 years ago and within a year was trav­el­ling to Korea for an in­ter­na­tional com­pe­ti­tion.

He went on to win gold with a world record per­fect score at the Athens Par­a­lympics in 2004 and has since taken home two bronze medals from Bei­jing and Lon­don in the 10m air ri­fle com­pe­ti­tion.

The sport cer­tainly takes you places, John­son says.

But the stigma sur­round­ing firearms can put many peo­ple off tak­ing up tar­get shoot­ing in the first place.

It is some­thing that peo­ple need to get past, he says.

‘‘If you learn some­thing the right way or you learn all the rules be­hind it, it’s only go­ing to help ben­e­fit and pro­mote safety and more aware­ness. Some peo­ple that I’ve met were a lit­tle bit ap­pre­hen­sive about it and it wasn’t un­til I said ‘look give it a go’ that they found that it wasn’t as scary as they first thought.’’

Mt Eden range shooter Julie Wills was hes­i­tant about tak­ing aim for the first time. ‘‘When I dis­cov­ered that things can be dealt with safely it puts a whole dif­fer­ent per­spec­tive on things.’’

Range man­ager Robert Berger says the club has al­ways aimed to in­cor­po­rate both able-bod­ied dis­abled shoot­ers.

The Mt Eden club is cur­rently the only per­ma­nent air range in Auck­land af­ter the re­gion’s tar­get shoot­ers lost their lease to the Ard­more Shoot­ing Range in 2008.

‘‘For a while air ri­fle shoot-

and ing sort of stag­nated so we’ve just res­ur­rected the sport our­selves really. We’re al­most right at the be­gin­ning again and I think once the word gets out it could be quite pop­u­lar.’’

Photo: HIN­ERANGI VAIMOSO

On the mark: Par­a­lympic gold medal­list Michael John­son and Mt Eden’s Auck­land Parafed Shoot­ing Club are res­ur­rect­ing the sport of air ri­fle shoot­ing.

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