Year Inducted: 2019
I was born on the 11th June 1957 and raised on a rural property between Ayr and Townsville in North Queensland. We had no electricity or phone until I was about 12 years old and didn’t own a car so it was a very isolated existence. The benefit was that from a very young age I got to go off by myself shooting and fishing, I even raided a saltwater crocodile nest. I was also driving tractors and a truck on the farm by the time I was 11 years old.
During my teenage years after selling our property we managed and lived on a rice farm. My enduring memory of this time is the amount of snakes that were on this farm. We even caught a couple of very large king browns.
My grandfather who was a life member of the Burdekin Gun Club was the reason that I began clay target shooting. He was my first coach and paid for almost all my shooting costs until I left school. He drove countless kilometres in a Holden Kingswood station wagon over some very average roads to take me to shoots. My first competition was in November 1970 at the Ravenshoe Gun Club on the Atherton Tablelands. When I began, there were no grades and no juniors just open competition against all of the other competitors. Thinking back, I am eternally grateful that this was the case. I began on 12 yards and it took me about six months to have my first win.
Over the next couple of years I shot at lots of clubs around the north and beyond. I even shot an event in Charters Towers with my arm in plaster after breaking it playing soccer. In 1973 the state team shoot was held at my club and at 15 years of age I made my first open state postal team. More wins followed and by 1976, at 18 years of age, I reached the maximum handicap of 25 metres.
I was apparently a natural sportsperson representing Queensland at underage level soccer and being selected in the North Queensland schoolboys rugby league team after playing a total of 140 minutes of rugby league in my entire life.
My first Australian team was an ISSF trap team in Melbourne in 1979. Newton Thomas was the coach and the other team members were Jim Ellis, Terry Rumbel and Pud Burgess. I was just a bit awe struck being this country kid from way up north. My two memories of the experience were me shooting rather average scores and Terry Rumbel having to shoot with a different gun because the airline seemed to have misplaced his.
From 1980 through to the mid 1990’s shooting took a back seat to my career although I still shot reasonably regularly. In 1995 I decided to see just how good I could be at this sport and began to attend the Nationals on a regular basis. It is difficult to pick the best moment I have had. Forced to nominate one I would say my first national title in 2002. The most emotional moment I have had was my third place in the DTL World Championship at Bywell in England in 2004 after my mum had passed away not long before. My worst moment was losing the ANZ pointscore shoot off in 2000. I began to question if I was ever going to win a national title as it was the sixth time I had run a place.
Being a Queenslander obviously Doug Smith was a bit of an inspiration although he was a long way from where I lived so I very rarely saw him. In the very early days I very much admired a few of North Queensland’s best shots, Doug Murray from Richmond, Bill Carrington from Charters Towers and Joe Casalegno from the Burdekin because they made it look so natural and easy.
I have no doubt that the person that has helped me most in my shooting career has been Carol Betteridge. She has been through all sorts of ups and downs offering bits of advice or just doing little supportive things over a very long time.
My most interesting travel story occurred in 2012 when the DTL World Championships in Wales coincided with the London Olympics. On arriving at Heathrow we picked our luggage up off the carousel and then noticed our guns sitting on the floor close by with some other oversize items etc. and nobody watching them. We picked them up and then proceeded to walk to customs past several English bobbies with sub machine guns slung over their shoulders. The lady at customs almost had a heart attack when she realised what they were. So much for heightened Olympic security. In fact Heathrow has a poor record in my experience. The other two times I have been there the guns came out on the baggage carousel.