By HARRY CLARKE
IT TOOK only one squeeze of the trigger for Breanna Collins to become hooked on sharp shooting.
She was just 13 when her parents handed her a loaded shotgun at the Chinchilla Gun Club. She dutifully raised the weapon, called “pull”, and blasted that first clay pigeon to smithereens.
“My Mum and Dad had been shooting for years and they’d drag me and my older sister around to all the gun clubs every week,” Collins said.
“I thought, if I’m going to get dragged around, I may as well give it a go because it was boring just sitting there. I hit my first target and I instantly fell in love with it.”
Fast forward six years and Collins, who now devotes every moment of her spare time to honing her sharp shooting skills, has been chosen to represent Australia at the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) World Championships in Croatia this September.
Collins was the overall top qualifier for the Australian Junior Women’s team from three trap shooting competitions in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne.
She’ll spend two weeks in the city of Osijek, representing the green and gold against the world’s best.
“It’s surreal. I can’t believe it’s actually happening. I’ve worked very hard and it makes the reward very sweet,” she said.
“I can’t wait. I’ll be representing Australia with pride and respect and it’s going to be the best thing I’ve ever done.”
Collins’ preferred sharp shooting discipline is the less popular but more challenging and competitive ISSF format, which involves 15 traps launching clay targets at speeds of about 70km/hr.
The more popular Down The Line (DTL) shooting has just one trap, sending targets out at about a third of the speed of ISSF traps.
“I took on ISSF in 2018 and I fell in love it with,” Collins said.
“It was completely different, it was more of a challenge, and because it’s not as common I thought I’d try and be successful because you can get somewhere. It’s the shooting they do at the Olympics. You can make Australian teams.”
She said it had taken a great deal of commitment, including from her parents Malcolm and Brenda Collins, to reach the top of Australian ISSF trap shooting in her Under-21 age group.
The 19-year-old works full time as an administration trainee at the Kogan Creek Power Station, and every weekend travels to professional standard ISSF gun ranges in Brisbane and on the Gold Coast.
“If you don’t practice you lose it,” she said.
“Even the two weeks off that I’m currently having, I will notice a change and I’m going to have to work extra hard to get it back.
“It’s very hard to be consistent. That’s why you have to practice a lot, to get those consistent scores. One bad round can cost you a lot.
“It’s one of those sports that, even if I’m having a really bad round, I don’t care. I just want to keep going. I never come off going ‘ I just wanted it to finish’. I just want to keep shooting and keep getting better.”
Collins said her dream was to represent Australia at the Olympics Games, perhaps at Los Angeles in 2028 or Brisbane in 2032. But for the time being she’s relishing the honour of shooting for her country at junior level.
“Hitting a target just gives you a thrill, especially when you’re really ready and you smash one on your first shot and it turns into dust. You just get this feeling that’s amazing, you just want to go again and again and again.”
“I think if I was 100 percent committed to it (the Olympics), I might need to move to Brisbane, but at the moment I can’t with my job. It might be something to look forward to in the future.”