BATHURST shooter Michael Coles knows a place on the Australian Olympic team for the Tokyo Games is more than likely beyond his reach, but that just means he won't be feeling under pressure when contests the final qualifying event.
And that lack of pressure, combined with his current good form, is something which could see him provide a real challenge to Australia's finest male trap shooters.
In order to claim one of two men's trap team spots for Tokyo, Coles firstly had to post a qualifying score. That saw him as one of 11 hopefuls who advanced to the four selection events.
At the first two of those in Newcastle - the Commonwealth Titles and National Titles - Coles did not perform as he would have liked. But event number three, the Yarra Valley Open at the Melbourne Gun Club, was a different story.
Coles qualified for the final in equal third with a score of 120 from a possible maximum of 125 and ended up placing fifth.
"It was a massive improvement, it was nice to be back and shooting as well as I should be, competing with everyone in Australia at the highest level. So that was nice," Coles said.
"Newcastle was tough for its own reasons, I don't think it was particularly down to nerves or pressure or anything like that.
"I got a really good start to the first round in Melbourne, in Newcastle I had bad starts to the events and it's pretty hard to recover after a bad start.
"Obviously Newcastle was disappointing, but if I continue to shoot in Sydney how I did in Melbourne, I'll feel a lot better about the whole thing."
Coles' performance in Melbourne lifted him into fifth on the current Olympic selection ranking on 333 points.
While one of the Tokyo spots has already been secured by James Willett (376) and either Thomas Grice (366) or Mitchell Iles (362) seemed destined to take the other, the Bathurst talent still plans to keep pushing his claims.
The final qualification event will the Shooting Australia Open, to be conducted at Sydney's Cecil Park range from March 18-22.
It is a venue where Coles has spent countless hours practising, a factor which weighs in his favour along with his good form and confidence.
"It's nothing to lose, the pressure is on the guys in second and third who are all but guaranteed a spot. But we'll go in there fighting and try and do another really good performance like Melbourne and see what happens," he said.
"If I do well it will also open up other opportunities apart from the Olympics.
"Having confidence certainly helps. When guys are down on confidence it obviously doesn't help given the sport is very technical, but at the same time a lot of it is a mental aspect.
"If your confidence takes a dent during an event, sometimes it is hard to bounce back. It's much better if your confidence stays high throughout an event ... if it goes down your scores often do too."