As some of the world’s finest clay pigeon shooters gather in Dubai for a competition offering £500,000 in prize money, a University of Derby student among them is hoping he’ll be right on target.
First year BSc (Hons) Zoology degree student Ben McIlwaine is currently taking part in the first Nad Al Sheba Sporting Clays Championship, in Dubai; which began last Friday (February 28) and ends Wednesday. He is among 1,000 of the world’s best clay pigeon shots aiming to win a slice of a total prizes package worth £500,000.
Ben, 20, from Marlow, Buckinghamshire, has been competing in clay pigeon shooting since he was 13-years-old and is a member of the UK’s Gamebore Elite Clay Shooting Academy, which encourages and trains promising young shots. His technical mentor is multiple World Champion title-holder, Ben Husthwaite, and mental skills trainer, Phil Coley, Gamebore’s director and a sports psychologist. Ben is sponsored by Pro Shock Ear Technology, manufacturers of shooting ear defenders and of Gamebore cartridges.
Ben said: “I’ve been practising five or six times a week in preparation for this competition, on top of my normal degree studies, as well as working with my coaches on aspects such as mental skills, to keep my focus and concentration.
“The competition in Dubai involves heats held outdoors, with shooters trying to hit as many out of 200 clay targets as they are able, over three days of actual competition. The key to winning some of the prize money will be to get into the top 50 places.”
He added: “It is the first time I’ve competed internationally, never mind somewhere like the Middle-East, but I know many in the Great Britain squad, who are also taking part in the contest.”
Ben has been given special dispensation from his degree studies’ tutors to take part in this international sporting event.
Winners of the contest’s individual prizes and a prize-giving ceremony to end the event will be held on Wednesday.
The event has been organised under the patronage of the Crown Prince of Dubai, to raise the profile of sport shooting in the United Arab Emirates.