Corowa could have its next Olympic shooter in its midst if 15-year-old Ben Kuschert takes after young gun Corowa-born shooter James Willett.
After just two years of pursuing clay target shooting, Kuschert is already showing real potential after recently winning his first national competition in the handicap event at the 2017 Field and Game National Carnival.
The carnival is one of Australia’s biggest clay target shooting competitions, which was held in Wodonga on November 4 and 5 where more than 500 competitors took aim at 150 targets each over the course of the two days.
Kuschert also took part in the junior section of the competition where he placed 11 out of 27 shooters.
Kuschert, who is a C grade shooter at the moment, was up against double A shooters at the competition, which makes his win even more exceptional.
His mum, Carol, told the Free Press that he almost didn’t enter the competition.
“Someone said sign him up for the experience and so we did,” she said.
Kuschert credits his trainers Graeme Boyd and Brett Jory for his great form after just two years of practice.
Boyd has also coached Willett who now lives in Mulwala and took home fifth in the men’s double trap at the Rio Olympics last year.
Kuschert is a Corowa High School student and also started out the same way as Willett, electing clay target shooting for Wednesday’s school sport.
Kuschert also competes locally at weekends.
“I have always had an interest in hunting and wanted to try my hand at shooting for as long as I can remember,” Kuschert said.
Kuschert’s win at the nationals saw him presented with a medallion and he was also awarded a Browning B725 gun, which he will have to wait patiently for.
“If he lived in Wodonga he could have gone home with it, but the gun laws are different in NSW,” Carol said.
Kuschert described winning his own gun as “one of the best things that has ever happened”.
“I will use it a couple of times but it will probably become more of a memento of my win,” he said.
Corowa High School clay target teacher Bryon Adamson said Kuschert showed potential from day one.
“He has a natural gift for the sport and hasn’t been doing it for long so this will be the first of many wins if he keeps it up,” he said.
“For him to go to a national event like that and come home with that prize is fantastic.
“I think originally he was only going to go there to get some experience and weren’t expecting anything at all, just getting some experience shooting at that level.
“He surprised himself I think and it is absolutely fantastic.”
Corowa Clay Target President Royce Wojtawyez said winning at nationals was a top effort for a junior shooter.
“The Field and Game is one of the hardest shooting disciplines because you have a lot of crossing targets and the target itself could be 30 to 40 yards out, so you have to try and judge your lead to the target and it’s not travelling in a straight line,” he said.
“We wish him all the best with the sport.
“James Willett started out with high school shooting here in Corowa, so we could have another shooter go through to the world stage.”