Shooting competitively has been a generational mainstay in the Riddle family and Tauranga's Gavin Riddle is proud to see his daughters not only maintain the tradition, but succeed at a high level.

Gavin Riddle has been in Tauranga for seven years and moved to New Zealand from South Africa 12 years ago, where he says shooting has been in his family for generations. His daughters, 20-year-old Samantha and 17-year-old Jessica, have succeeded in various disciplines and Gavin has also achieved at a high level.

"It is a good bit of fun as we have all gone into different disciplines," Gavin says.

"We compete with each other and against each other and as a family, we have been shooting for around five years.


"When you are trying to compete at the level we are shooting at it is about being better than the last time you shot. There are a lot of internal competitions. All the shooters get on well, but we are fiercely competitive and we want to win. There are a mental games the guys try and play, but it is all friendly banter."

In 2017 both girls competed for and were selected for the New Zealand Junior Smallbore Shooting Team and Samantha also secured a spot in the New Zealand Ladies Smallbore Shooting Team and was the top junior in 2018. Jessica competed in the National Air Rifle Championships and won the National Ladies and Junior Ladies titles.

In March this year, Jessica shot in the National Air Rifle Championships and again took both titles and is now ranked first for the Oceania Championships to be held in Sydney in November this year.

The air rifle discipline, an Olympic sport, requires shooters to stand and fire freehand at a distance of 10m. The perfect shot involves using a 4.5mm diameter pellet to hit a centre point on a target that is no bigger than a full stop.

Samantha has taken to full bore shooting and in January this year was part of the New Zealand under-21 team who won gold at the World Long Range Shooting Champs, beating teams from the United Kingdom, United States and Australia. She went on to compete in the individual component of the competition and placed seventh out of 320 competitors in one of the 800-yard shoots.

Gavin is not immune to success having won the 50m prone event at the National 50m Outdoor Shooting Championships in Christchurch in February. He made it through the qualification round and the subsequent elimination round ranked second.

He says the conditions for the final were marginal with 65km/h winds blowing across the range. There he beat fellow Tauranga shooter Owen Bennett to claim the title.

Gavin says the sport has challenges aside from those on the range, including that it is largely self-funded.


"It is not hugely televised, and it is harder to generate sponsorship. From our perspective, firearms safety is also of critical importance. Our discipline is just punching holes in pieces of cardboard.

"It is a very mentally challenging sport, there is no margin for error. You have to maintain your focus and for a shooter like Jessica, you have to spend time in the gym as you spend a lot of time standing and shooting, so you need good core strength. It is also important to be fit as if you are cardiovascular fit, you can get your heart rate down."

All three of the Riddles have been members at the Tauranga Target Rifle Club and club president Alan Dickson says Samantha still shoots at the club.

"You get situations like the Riddle family and the two girls were school girls when they started. They learned to shoot at the Tauranga Rifle Club.

"We only do the prone shooting, as that is what our range is set up for. Target shooting used to be New Zealand's biggest sport and that was mainly full bore shooting. Smallbore is not as big as it used to be either, there is a lot more choice in how you can fill your leisure time.

"We have around 25 members and that is pretty stable. We get some young kids come in at school age, but then they go off to university. Traditionally when they got to 18 we lost them."

The club shoots once a week with club nights, which includes facilitating new shooters. Some members travel away on weekends to compete and this weekend is the Teams of 10 event in Masterton, which will include Tauranga members as part of the Waikato team.