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In three short years, ACG Parnell College’s Reuben Lawler has shot his way to the top as one of New Zealand’s best clay target shooters.
Winner of the New Zealand Nationals Under 21 title in both 2020 and 2021, the Year 13 student is at the peak of his game.
“My grandfather first introduced me to the sport, and it appealed instantly. I love that it is easy to learn but hard to master,” says Reuben, who was awarded the ACG Parnell College Excellence in Sport trophy at the 2020 prizegiving.
“The more effort you put into each shot, the harder it gets. The very nature of the sport means you’re trying to do things routinely but in a subconscious way – whenever you consciously tell yourself to change or adjust while making a shot, you’re only making it harder!”
Selected to represent New Zealand against Australia for the last two years running, Reuben has earned a string of awards in the discipline. But his success in the Under 21s – the pinnacle of clay target shooting in New Zealand – was a huge highlight.
“These wins were a culmination of many hours of training with my coach, and it was certainly gratifying for us both to achieve the title two years in a row.”
ACG Parnell College sports coordinator Steph Trowill says Reuben’s rapid progress in the sport shows he is clearly one to watch.
“Competing in an individual sport is not an easy thing to do – there is nothing to hide behind and no one to fall back on,” says Steph. “Athletes can often experience plateaus in performance that can be challenging to push through, so the fact that Reuben is consistently winning both national and regional events at an Under 21 level is a testament to the hard work he puts into his training.
“Reuben has had to foster a great level of mental toughness and personal mastery to be able to succeed in his sport of clay target shooting. It certainly takes a great level of focus, drive, passion and discipline.”
So, what’s next on the agenda for this gifted marksman? Global domination, perhaps, as Reuben has now set his sights on showcasing his skills internationally – although he may have to wait a while for the opportunity.
“I was planning to compete abroad for my first World Cup or ISSF (International Shooting Sport Federation) Junior World Championship this year, however with the current pandemic, this is unlikely.”
Despite this, he believes there will still be plenty to get excited about in 2021.
“I’m thoroughly looking forward to the year ahead, especially the added free time to pursue things both inside and outside of the school community. I was pretty active in archery for some years and won some Auckland junior events, but this year I’m getting back into playing club cricket, and I’m also thinking of taking tennis and golf back up as social sports.”