HE had to endure windy and near pitch black conditions, but Bathurst shooter Michael Coles still managed to post the biggest win of his shooting career.
Coles and fellow Australia representative Laetisha Scanlan won the shotgun gold medal in the mixed team trap event at February's Qatar Open.
It was Coles' first win while representing Australia, he and Scanlan beating Iranian duo Seyed Babak Yeganeh Rohollani and Shiva Farahpour Bidgoli by one shot at Doha's Lusail Shooting Complex.
“I’d say it’s the highlight so far, definitely, international success was very nice," Coles said.
“It was the first time I’d ever shot a pairs event, so yeah, I had a nice first run with it,” he added with a laugh.
“It’s actually the third time I’ve been there [Doha] for different events, but yeah, it’s an amazing facility. It’s really world class, it’s as good as any other range in the world, that’s for sure."
Coles’ first assignment at the Qatar Open - which featured around 280 shooters from 38 countries - was the individual competition, which was contested over two days. He finished equal 14th.
Only the top six advanced to the final, but the Bathurst shooter was satisfied with his performance.
“I wasn’t disappointed, I feel as though I could have done a bit better and been closer to the final, but all-in-all it was a solid performance and I was happy enough," he said.
“Then I was able to shoot a bit better again for the pairs event."
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Attending as part of a four-person Shooting Australia team - split into two females and two males - Coles was also given the opportunity to make his pairs debut.
Though it was a new challenge, he and Scanlan were hopeful of featuring.
“It’s hard to say how we were expected to go, but we certainly believed we could have a good day and be in or around the final," he said.
“We were able to do that, which was nice. Once we got in there, everything went smoothly.”
Coles and Scanlan finished the preliminary rounds in the top six to book a place in the final. The Bathurst talent admitted it was challenging and tense as they survived each elimination which followed.
“The way they do finals now everyone shoots 25, then one person gets eliminated. You shoot another five and another gets eliminated," he said.
“That goes from 25 to 40 which only leaves you with the two teams, and then those last two teams go all the way to 50.
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“We were one target in front after the 50. Me and Laetisha were one target ahead going into that last five … we had some misses, but we both had some misses.
“They’d had some delays throughout the day, so the final was very late in the day and it was very windy all day. By the time we both shot that last five, it was nearly pitch black. You’ve just got to try and keep going in those conditions, you’ve just got to hope that everyone else is struggling as well.
“It was all a bit of a whirlwind, but it was a very exciting day.
“I’m certainly hoping to bring that form back to Australia and shoot well. Hopefully I can go on and earn the right to compete in a few more international events now."