ROWVILLE marksman Brenton Irons had become sick of shooting.
The sport which he picked up at age 12 and had loved for almost a decade had begun to be laborious.
His passion was waning. So he gave up.
That was seven years ago.
Yesterday he became a national champion.
Irons is today soaking up the plaudits after shooting himself into Field and Game Federation of Australia folklore.
The softly-spoken 28-year-old hit a sublime 212 targets out of 225 across three days at the Laang range to clinch the open title by three shots.
A flawless 75 out of 75 on Friday’s day one handed him a three-shot lead.
He followed up with rounds of 68 on Saturday and 69 yesterday to claim a title he never thought would be his.
“I’ve been trying to win it for a few years. To finally win it, it’s pretty good,” said Irons, who also won the FGFA Victorian title last month.
“I’ve won most of the other shoots, but this one kept slipping by.”
Irons said he had good friend Brian Mortenson — a representative of ammunition company Winchester — to thank for restoring his love for shooting.
“About 21, 22 I gave shooting away. I just had no real interest in doing it,” he said.
“He (Brian) managed to get a job at Winchester and he said ‘you need to start shooting because I need to go to these events and you’re coming with me’.
“He’s basically looked after me ever since with the ammunition side of things.
“There are always certain things you need to improve on and this year I’ve got out and put the effort into improving the things I needed to improve on.
“The passion is there.”
Irons beat second-placed Robert Hall, while Adam DuRose — who won the Field and Game Australia national title a fortnight ago — was third.
They topped a record 360-shooter field which contested arguably the best FGFA national titles in history.
Irons praised the legion of volunteers who prepared the Laang range: “It’s probably the best range we’ve got in the country.”
He said shooting a perfect score on Friday was crucial to his triumph. “For myself and all the other guys, if you shoot a bad first day, sometimes it can be too hard to come back from that and it can be all over.
“Especially if the targets can remain easy and everyone else can punch out the really high scores.”
The FGFA national titles were also successful for south-west Victorians.
Warrnambool’s Vicki Johnstone placed third in the women’s section, finishing behind Renae Birgan and Kelly Norris — the trio which won gold for Australia at the world titles in August.
Colac’s Rod Brain won the super veterans, successfully defying balance issues caused by his prosthetic left leg he reauired after a logging accident in 1985.