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Andy picks up skeet trifecta

Like many Kiwis, Andy Peter decided to make the most of his time spent in lockdown early last year. In fact, the enforced stay-at-home period played a part in helping the Marlborough marksman achieve a long-held goal.

The Awatere-based clay target shooter had his sights set on a unique achievement - a trifecta of the nation’s top skeet titles in the same year.

So, when lockdown arrived he decided to utilise the time to ramp up his training. “Through Covid I built myself a skeet field at home and did a heap of practice out there,” Andy explained. And it paid off.

The 55-year-old had won the South Island skeet title once, taken out the North Island crown on two occasions and bagged the New Zealand title twice – but had never claimed all three titles in the same year.

“I won two of them [the North Island and NZ] the year before and tried to win the third but the pressure got to me … anyway, last year it was my goal to win all three and I managed to do it,” said Andy. “I don’t think it has been done before by a skeet shooter.”

In October he won the high gun overall title at the South Island champs in Alexandra, then picked up the North Island’s top prize in Tauranga.

So, it was on to the national champs in Hamilton during November and Andy admits he “felt the pressure”.

“That little spot at the top gets more and more uncomfortable the higher up you get,” he recalled.

In recent years Andy has flown to America to compete in a series of big shooting events across the States, against some of the world’s top marksmen. He suggests the fact he was unable to travel this year may have provided an added impetus to do well.

“Maybe not being able to go to America for my season’s competition gave me a lot of pent-up frustration and perhaps I took it out on the New Zealanders.”

In recent times, Andy has employed the help of two highly-experienced coaches and he puts a large part of his success down to their input.

Todd Bender, accepted as one of the world’s best skeet shooters, is his main coach, the pair having worked together for the past seven years. Five years ago he joined forces with Lanni Basham, a mental skills coach.

“It has been a long-term goal of mine to take the number one spot in New Zealand and I am living proof that it is possible.

“I was never the greatest shot in the world, but I have gone and got the good oil, the coaching, the good gun fit, the mental coach and I have stuck by what they said and worked hard at it.”

Andy said his time with mental skills coach Basham has paid big immediate dividends.

“You are strong now … you are probably not a better shot than the other fellas but you have more belief in what you are doing.”

Ever-cautious of sounding arrogant, Andy outlines his renewed mental approach prior to competition.

“I’m not scared anymore – I’m going to turn up there and make them scared. I show up [at the competitions] really believing I am going to win it, if I don’t deviate from what I have been coached and trained I might not win it, but I’ll be very close to the top.”

Coming off a two-month break, the most time he has had away from his shotgun for “a long, long time”, he can’t wait to get back on the range.

“Hell, I’ve missed it, I’m itching to get back at it. I don’t think I can take that long a break again, although I know I needed it to freshen up.”

And will he have another go at the trifecta in 2021? “Certainly, I’ll roll up and have another go … why not?”

Added to the prize pool at the nationals last year was a $5000 Beretta shotgun, the first time Andy has won a rifle over his long career.

“Man, that was a thrill,” he said, “I’ve now got the gun at home … it’s something I can give to the grandchildren.”

The new gun won’t be used in competition, but stray rabbits and pesky birds around the Peter family vineyard had better beware.