First Gold at Clay Target

The first gold medals of the 2016 Alice Springs Masters Games have been awarded already.

Clay target shooters Glenn O’Brien and Michelle Ball got in early to win gold in the 50 target skeet event yesterday.

O’Brien, from Geraldton Western Australia, shot a remarkable 48 out of 50 targets while Centralian Ball scored an impressive 40 targets.

The field for the clay target reached capacity early and there are 79 shooters coming from country New South Wales, country Victory, Adelaide and Western Australia.

The Wood Ducks from Victoria’s Woods Point Gun Club have been coming to the Games since 1992 and are one of several groups that keep returning year after year to enjoy Centralian hospitality at the Clay Target Club.

There are 20 shooters in their group.

In a boost for the popular sport this year, shooters at the Alice Springs Clay Target Club now have access to a better equipped facility at which to flex their trigger fingers.

The club received $5000 from the NT Government Grass Roots Grants Program for upgrades to equipment and to increase the club’s capacity to host more competitors.

The new equipment is of Olympic standard, and as well as providing a safer and more professional environment for competition, it allows members and visitors greater access to more layouts to participate in competitions and practise events.

Clay target shooters require a quick trigger finger and a high degree of accuracy, and only the quickest of these sharp shooters has secured a berth in the clay target competition at the Games.

Coordinator Marlene Niland has been involved in organising 13 Alice Springs Masters Games events, missing only two of the biennial events since the Games began in 1986.

“It is so popular because it is such an exhilarating sport, and it has such broad appeal,” Niland said.

“You can be 63 years old, a little bit unfit, and still go out and take up target shooting and have an amazing time and maybe even become quite good at it.”

Niland said the social but competitive atmosphere at clay target shooting really embodies what the Games are all about.

“It’s about getting out and enjoying yourself. It’s a great sport, even though years ago it wasn’t thought of as a woman’s sport I certainly feel like I’m treated well and belong, we all accept each other as equals and have a fantastic time,” she said.