2016 – James Willett

About 2016 – James Willett

MOST 20-year-olds could be reasonably expected to let their hair down on Australia Day.

Heading to the river, esky in hand, most of us anticipate the public holiday weeks in advance. Not James Willett though.

The Corowa sharpshooter spent his day off on his family’s property, honing his craft for hours on end.

This is just a week after Willett won the ACTA ISSF National Championships in Brisbane, which was a selection event for the Rio Olympics.

It’s been a massive 12 months for Willett, who went from relative obscurity to the number nine-ranked double trap shooter in the world.

At the time of writing, he is also the number one ranked shooter in Australia.

The young gun rattled off a series of tournament podiums and victories in 2015, both at home and overseas.

He set a double trap world record in one of his final outings as a junior, shooting 142/150 at the Australian Junior Championships in March last year.

A hectic travelling schedule saw him visit Cyprus, Italy and Turkey throughout the year, and is currently training for the Qatar Grand Prix.

Willett said learning to handle the pressure of overseas competition had been an important facet of his breakthrough year.

“I’ve had a pretty good year,” he said.

“I think having a bit more experience on my side has been the big difference.

“I don’t think there has been anything too specific that I have needed to work on in the last year.

“Being able to get overseas regularly and experience the conditions over there has been key.

“You can’t give in to the pressure once you’re over there, you have to treat it like any normal shoot, make sure you do the things you’ve trained yourself to do.”

The team for the Rio Olympics will be announced in the coming months, leaving Willett to wait and hope that his efforts had been enough.

“I’m fairly confident I’ve done enough to be considered, but there’s a long way to go yet,” he said.

“My coach Graeme Boyd has been a huge help, he’s followed me to every shoot.

“To make the team in my first year out of juniors would be incredible.

“I’m still hoping to improve my shooting and my ranking.

“I want to be in this sport for as long as I can be, it’s my passion.”

Twice nominated for the Young Achiever of the Year Award, Willett said he was hoping to do the Border proud if he makes the cut.

“I want to go as far as I can, and just do my best,” he said.