INVERCARGILL man Les Hoffman has shot his way onto the international stage, representing New Zealand at two high-level international clay target shooting championships this year.
Hoffman is competing at the FITASC Oceania Championships in Queensland, Australia in April (Apr 20-22) and the FITASC 41st World Sporting Championship in England in July.
He is one of three repesenting New Zealand in the senior division, and the only Southlander among the New Zealand team.
“I’m not wearing out any shoe leather, as I am on cloud nine,” he said, of his selection.
“I feel marvellous, wonderful.”
The 61-year-old was selected after accummulating points at a series of qualifying events, including in NZCTA New Zealand Sporting Championships in Hamilton last week (Feb 16-17) and FITASC NZ Grand Prix in Whanganui two weeks ago. (Feb 12 and 13)
“I didn’t win either event, but I was the first Kiwi home…which put me in first position.
“I have never shot so well in recent times. I have had a pretty fantastic year of shooting.”
Hoffman started shooting at aged 12, having grown up in a “typical” Southland hunting and fishing family, he said.
Hoffman had been a competitive badminton player for about 30 years, but age and injury had forced him to retire.
“I had worn out body parts. I was limited in what I can do.. this [clay target shooting] is one of them.”
He took up the sport in 1989, and soon discovered he had a talent for it.
“I was reasonably successful at it.”
He attributed his success to his ability to stay calm and focussed under pressure, he said.
His focus for the Oceania and World championships was on bettering his average, he said.
“I want to put in a good score, and beat the Australians [at the Oceanias].
“I will concentrate on each stand and breaking each target one by one.”
The World Championships was an event which attracted about 25 countries from around the world.
“I will be dealing with a lot of professionals at the worlds. The goal is to shoot my average and do the very best I can for New Zealand.”
He would not treat the championships as a holiday, but rather as a “life-long mission”.
“This is the absolute pinnacle of the sport,” he said.
“Knowing you are representing your country…there is no higher honour than being able to shoot in the New Zealand colours.”