Fleming flying the flag

WILLUNG farmer Daryl Fleming has proven himself among the world’s best shooters with impressive results at recent events in New Zealand and Dubai.

Results at FITASC shooting events around Australia qualified Fleming for the national championships in Mudgee, New South Wales. A top four finish there saw Fleming chosen to represent his country at the Oceania championships between Australia, New Zealand and New Caledonia, held in Rotorua, NZ, last month.

Selection to the national team was an enormously proud achievement for the father of three, who began shooting locally as a youngster.

“I had always shot since I was 15 locally and it’s probably only the last four or five years I’ve chased it competitively and jumped into the FITASC version which is on the world stage,” Fleming said.

“It’s very, very tough. You’re competing with other guys who are shooting all over the world quite often. I don’t always get the time to do that, so I’m very happy with the achievement to get to that level.”

The FITASC style of shooting originated in France and attempts to use clay targets and fake animal targets to simulate the shooting of live game. Despite not quite having the same popularity as clay target shooting, which is done regularly at field and game clubs across Australia, competition among FITASC shooters around the world is vastly stronger.

“It’s a little bit more of a competitive version of sporting clays,” Fleming said. “This is probably the next level, a few more challenging targets, longer events and definitely more competition with the cream of the crop competing.

“We do sporting targets coming from everywhere, rabbit targets rolling along the ground, stuff shooting out of blackberry bushes. Whereas at the Olympics they shoot what is called down the line, where they stand there and basically shoot the one target.”

Mixing family life, the farming of 350 cattle and a number of other contracting projects understandably makes it hard for Fleming to dedicate the same amount of time to shooting that some of his competitors can.

However, his results against a quality field at the national championships – where he shot an impressive 204 of a possible 225 targets – show he’s among the best shooters Australia has to offer.

“It was some achievement to get into the top four … it’s a fairly tough sport to crack with 300 or 400 competitors,” he said.

“They take the top four shots out of those national titles, which basically is the best four shots in the country, and they represent Australia in the Oceania competition.”

The trip to NZ was his second journey overseas this year to compete, following a visit to the FITASC world championships in Dubai earlier in 2015. The contrasts between that and the NZ event were plentiful, however one thing that didn’t change was Fleming’s strong results, finishing among the top 15 per cent in the world in Dubai.

While many parents may be hesitant about their children taking up shooting, Fleming believes introducing youngsters to local shooting clubs can greatly improve their respect and understanding of firearms.

“There’s four local clubs in Traralgon, Sale, Moe and Morwell and basically the sky’s the limit for anyone, a lot of the Olympic shooters originate through the ranks from local clubs,” he said.

After an incredibly successful start to 2015, Fleming hopes to continue his good individual form to give him the best chance to once again represent Australia.

“I’ll keep competing in the FITASC line of events, there’s competitions all over Australia and the national titles are in Geelong again this year,” he said. “From there it’s all about trying to get in that top four again and representing the country.”