Hawke's Bay clay target shooter James Fulford knows how to score ... with or without a gun in his hands.
Fulford, 17, started an aboriculture course at the Waikato Institute of Technology in Hamilton last month. Hamilton happens to be the venue for next year's world championships.
"Obviously the career was the main priority for moving up here but it's also a perfect opportunity to become familiar with the facilities and surroundings in the build-up to the world championships," Fulford explained.
Fulford finished 15th in the junior section of last year's world championships in Wales and was keen to improve on that finish on home soil. The Karamu High School product is eligible to shoot in the junior ranks for another four years.
If recent performances are an indication Fulford is on target to achieve his goal. At the March 3-8 nationals in Hamilton Fulford won three junior titles and an open title.
He scored 42 points out of a possible 50 in the junior double rise, 70 out of a possible 75 in the junior triples and a maximum 50 in the junior single rise. Fulford won the AA grade open single barrel title with 49 points out of a possible 50.
In addition Fulford won the High Gun Junior trophy for the highest aggregate overall by a junior competitor. In a 100 target shoot off for the overall champion of the nationals Fulford finished 11th.
Fulford was the top qualifier for the New Zealand Junior MacIntosh team which competed in a postal shoot with England, Australia and South Africa last weekend. He scored 289 points out of a possible 300.
"I chose to shoot in the open team instead of the junior one and we are still waiting for the results of the shoot," Fulford said after another training session in Hamilton this week.
There was more good news for Fulford at the end of the nationals. Both he and Waikato's John Beddis were selected to represent New Zealand in Tahiti later this month.
The Tahitian government is paying for the trip and Fulford will compete in the 100 target single rise, 100 target points score and 100 target single barrel divisions. Fulford is likely to compete against shooters he met during last September's Oceania championships in Auckland. At this event which involved seven countries he won four individual silver medals and three gold team medals.
While he attends his course commitments on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays he trains up to two hours on Thursdays and Fridays, shooting between 50 and 100 targets on each of those days.