The Mildura ISSF Grand Prix was held at the Mildura Clay Target Club over the weekend against a beautiful blue sky and an international standard green shot stop curtain. Due to competition and travel restrictions within Victoria this event was postponed from its September time slot and it was fortunate that not only could the event be rescheduled, but the new dates meant that competitors from South Australia and New South Wales could also attend and compete alongside the Victorians.
This Shooting Australia endorsed event offered both Trap and Skeet events and provided an opportunity for competitors to record a score towards their Average Performance Score. The proposed new finals format was also trialled as open finals with the top 8 qualifiers in each of the disciplines making it through to the semi finals (2 semi finals of four competitors) and the top four semi finalists (top two in each of the two semi-finals) making it through to the medal matches to determine 1st, 2nd and 3rd places.
In the trap, it was Mitch Iles that dominated competition. After day one, Victorian based Iles finished on 72/75 and tied with Luke Cassar (NSW). At the conclusion of the 125 qualifying targets on day two, Iles took the lead finishing on 121 and one target ahead of Milad Nasr (VIC). 114 was the cut off to make the open trap semi-final with Cassar and Junior competitor and Pathways Squad Athlete Gabriel Sensi (VIC) missing out on a position during a three way shoot off for the final spot with Norm Moroni. Tokyo Olympians Thomas Grice and Penny Smith finished qualifying on 116 and 115 respectively and both qualified for the semi-final. Into semi-final one and Iles shot an impressive 24 out of 25 targets single barrel to be the highest medal match qualifier and three targets ahead of Mildura local Nathan Argiro. Semi final two saw Nasr and Nidal Asmar equal 21 out of 25 targets and rounding out the top four for the medal match.
Iles continued a stellar performance barely faulting in the medal match and easily claimed the Gold medal with 34 out of 35 to take his collective single barrel semi-final and medal match total to 58 out of 60. Nasr finished the medal match three targets behind Iles on 31/35 taking silver and Nidal Asmar taking bronze with 22/25. Argiro finished in fourth place on 11/15.
Junior competitor and Pathways Squad Athlete Mark du Rose led skeet qualifying on day one finishing on 67/75 and three targets ahead of Brittany Melbourne. Du Rose retained a lead after the conclusion of 125 qualifying targets with 110 out of 125 and 1 target ahead of Joshua Bell. Du Rose continued his form progressing from the semi final to the medal match taking the gold medal ahead of Bell (silver) and Melbourne (Bronze).
It was great to see many entries from 2022 Shooting Australia squad athletes encompassing men, women, and juniors. Special mention to Pathways Squad trap junior athletes Georgia Pistone and Molly Bretag who both shot personal bests over the weekend with 111 and 109 respectively out of a possible 125. Newcomer to the sport Shannen Gallagher also competed over the weekend in what was only her third ISSF Trap competition. Shannen also smashed her personal best with a 99 out of 125 and shot a round best with a 22 out of 25 on day two.
An endorsed ISSF Trap and Skeet competition was also held at the Gold Coast Clay Target Club over the weekend. Paul Santarossa won the trap event with 36/50 in the open final and Shane Weeden one target behind won silver. Dan Johnson took the bronze medal with 27/40 in the final. Shooting Australia Pathway Squad athlete Breanna Collins finished in fifth place. Will Lawrie won the Skeet event, Paul Siede won silver and William Saheli took the bronze.
A big thank you must be extended to the Mildura Clay Target Club and Gold Coast Clay Target Club for hosting these events and the hospitality the clubs offered throughout the course of the weekend. Thank you also to all the competitors who travelled, their support networks and the volunteers who assisted in the delivery of two quality events.