Cowra metallic silhouette pistol shooter Matt Seears has cemented his position as one of the sports elite athletes winning four medals at the 10th World Championships held in Cape Town, South Africa, recently.
Seears’ haul of one gold, one silver and two bronze medals brings his tally on the global stage to eight after a successful World Cup at Finland in July 2011.
With the range four kilometres from the beach, contenders had to deal with constant cross-winds reaching 35km/h, conditions Seears describes as the hardest in which he has had to compete.
“Most matches we were shooting with 9-10 clicks of windage in our guns, so that works out that the wind was turning the bullet about 300mm,” he said.
“The wind doesn’t really affect you until you get to about 75 metres. When I shot my standing match it was blowing a gale, so to shoot 29 out of 40 was pretty good going - I was really working hard. The trouble with the wind is that you can turn a 29 into a 22 very quickly.”
Shooting first thing in the morning gave competitors an advantage with the winds far less demanding, but Seears was only fortunate enough to get one 8.30am morning slot - on opening day - and everyone was there watching and waiting to get on line.
Seears handled the pressure.
It was a remarkable performance considering Seears changed his sight eye due to failing vision only weeks before the championships.
“I’m glad I changed to my left eye because, if I’d been shooting with my right, it was so windy you had to be so accurate on where you aimed so that if it did grab hold of the bullet it still had a bit of allowance to still hit the target,” he said.
“If you were a little bit off, you would definitely miss - there was no forgiving.”
The challenging conditions may have suited Seears with other ranges relatively sheltered from the variables.
“I went to Tasmania on a range where the targets weren’t very clear, the background was terrible and it wasn’t a very well set up range - I was the only one that shot any good on it,” he said.
“I have found that the conditions really don’t seem to affect me too much. I just don’t let it worry me because there is nothing really you can do about it.
“Overall I think the Australians coped with the conditions the best.”
Seears shot a 145/160 individual aggregate, securing himself the silver medal and helping his team achieve gold, defeating the French by seven points.
He was forced into a shoot-off for silver in the revolver after scoring 39/40 and, although losing, still ended up with the bronze.
The Australian team were a little disappointed with their field pistol aggregate bronze medal all shooting below their high standard.
Seears will take a break from competitive shooting this year citing the commitments as too taxing with family, work, training and competiting.
“It’s just a shame it’s not really something that can earn big money, but there aren’t many sports that do,” he said.
“It will put me out of qualification for Sweden next year, but then I will probably try again.”