Matthew Clark has quickly established himself as the best young skeet shooter in Australasia.

He returned home from the Australian Clay Target Skeet Nationals, held at Wagga Wagga, NSW from May 16-29, laden down with medals after cleaning up in every division he entered.

Clark, 13, won seven separate titles at the Australian nationals in the sub-junior (aged 12-14) category and became the first New Zealander to win the Australian sub-junior title.

"The titles are all equal, but particularly I am very proud of the sub-junior High Gun title and the sub-junior 12 Gauge which is like the big deciding national event," Clark said.

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"I beat two others to win the overall title. It is a big deal for me. In New Zealand, I am the youngest person on the competition circuit, and there was one younger person at the [Australian] skeet nationals."

Clark did not set himself any clear goals to achieve in Australia.

"Whatever I got out if it was a bonus as I was mainly going there for experience which I could bring back and further develop.

"I am even prouder of myself now and a lot more self-confident. I know how much I can actually achieve and I can push myself to that level to make myself achieve."

Clark, a Year 9 student at Tauranga Boys' College, has been competing for three years in clay target shooting. He collected nine provincial titles in junior categories in the trap or down the line (DTL) discipline before deciding to switch to skeet a year ago.

Clay target shooting has different disciplines known as trap (DTL), skeet, ISSF and sporting clays which all have their challenges and intricacies.

Clark says there are major differences between the trap and skeet disciplines.

"DTL is where you are situated 15 metres behind the trap which flings the clay targets out. You have five stations in a slight arc, and you call pull. The trap is oscillating going left to right so when you call pull it flings the target at a different angle every time.

"Skeet is a bit different. You have what's called a high house and a low house. There are eight stations where you get a different sequence of targets from each station, and each station has its own little difficulties which I took a shining to."

Clark decided to change to skeet after he had realised it was a bigger challenge than DTL.

"I wanted to master each station when I go around as each station has its own difficulty level. The school circuit around here doesn't provide me with that challenge," he said.

After cleaning up the Australian nationals, Clark has his sights clearly focused on the New Zealand nationals to be held in Christchurch in November.


Matthew Clark's results at 2017 ACTA Skeet Nationals
1st Sub Junior 410 Bore score 41/50
1st Sub Junior 28 gauge score 44/50
1st Sub Junior Champion of Champions score 97/102
1st Sub Junior 20 gauge score 98/100 with a 50 and 75 target long run (75 targets before missing)
1st Sub Junior 12 gauge Australian National champion score 109/112
1st Sub Junior 12 gauge Doubles score 95/100
National Australian Sub Junior High Gun with a score of 527/550.