Tapawera students set sights on greater shooting skill
Story by: WAYNE MARTIN - Nelson Mail - Photo by: Gavin Hadfield
At the moment, enthusiasm is outstripping ability, but for a group of Tapawera Area School students, air pistol shooting is the new sporting focus.
A group of seven year 9-12 Tapawera students headed to Ashburton College recently for their first competitive shoot, and while the significantly more experienced Ashburton shooters dominated the competition, Tapawera team coach Kirsty Griffith said it was an invaluable experience for the rookie marskmen.
Ashburton College's students began competitive shooting three years ago, compared to just several weeks for some of the Tapawera shooters.
Griffith has been a member of the Nelson Pistol Club for the past eight years and earlier this year encouraged a group of interested students along to the club's Golden Downs range as part of the school's sports programme.
Some have since moved on to other interests, although a core group have remained and, according to Griffith, are thoroughly enjoying the new sporting discipline.
"They're really keen, and as long as the kids are keen, I'm keen to keep them going," said Griffith. "And the club's very supportive of us too."
While in Ashburton, the seven team members all took advantage of two hours of post-competition tuition and some firsthand experience of state of the art Morini pistols, worth $1500 each.
Griffith said that at this stage of their fledgling careers, the competition was secondary to the experience of simply travelling away as a team. "It was about the fact they wore the school tracksuits and went away as a team and did some fundraising. That was more my thinking behind it."
The experience wasn't wasted on year 11 student Blair Anglesey.
"It was a good experience for the whole team to be in a competition against other schools," he said.
"Also, the lessons were very good afterwards as we learnt some invaluable new skills. These lessons were given by some New Zealand international representatives who had some 68 years experience between them."
Team-mate Dean Ball (year 11) enjoyed "getting the best score out of the Tapawera kids", while for Casey Scott (year 12) "the cooking was good and the accommodation was great".
Laura Eyles (year 12) said that "coming second out of the Tapawera crew was pretty cool", while Shanna Russell (year 11) appreciated "having the coaching with the pistols".
For Tyler Russell (year 11), "scoring 47 out of 400" was reward enough, although David Badcock (year 9) revealed his competitive streak by "scoring lots more than Tyler".
And Griffith's evaluation of her young team?
"They've got potential."