Rachel McLaren’s mum always dreamed of her daughter competing in an overseas shooting competition.
And though she passed away before she could see it happen, Rachel felt her mother watching over as she shot her way to a gold medal at the Oceania championships in Sydney last month.
Remarkably, Rachel and her team were considered the New Zealand ‘B’ team but defied its underdog status to outshoot both the New Zealand and Australian ‘A’ sides.
The 36-year-old ticked off a number of items on her bucket list, including travelling out of the country for the first time. Rachel, with her trusty weapon ‘Wally Walther,’ finished 6th overall with 610.2, just six points shy of New Zealand’s Sally Johnston.
Her efforts, combined with teammates Kirsten Birrell and Shania Harrison-Lee, saw the
trio finish first overall.
“When Kirsten told me we had won gold, I didn’t believe her,” Rachel says. “It wasn’t until I saw the final scores on the screen that I got quite emotional.”
Not only did the side claim the unlikely victory, they created history by setting a new Oceania Team Record.
“I had to try and not ball my eyes out during the medal ceremony, which wasn’t easy.”
The admin manager at Rzoska Electrical wrote “for Mum” on her hand so she would see it every time she fired a shot.
“Seeing that on my hand helped calm me and to not overthink it. It also reminded me who I was doing it all for.”
Rachel’s love affair with the sport began due to some unfortunate circumstances.
An active child, Rachel was struck down with toxoplasmosis at just 12-years-old.
This left her lethargic and unable to maintain her previous energy levels.
However, a nurse and family friend suggested she try shooting. Rachel went to the Wakefield Range where she fired a rifle for the first time.
She says there are still people at the Wakefield Range who were there when she had her first shoot and coached her through the years.
This range visit would be the start of a successful 20-year career.
“I’ve had a number of successes over the years, too many to list and mainly with indoor as I’ve been shooting that for longer.”
She says her trip to Sydney was made possible thanks to several donations.
“I had so much support, so expenses were one thing I didn’t have to fret over.”
Rachel is also the president of Target Shooting Nelson and is encouraging young and old to test their shooting skills at the club.
“Our season starts this April and I highly recommend coming and having a go, everything is supplied, and you’re coached through the whole process.” To register your interest contact firstname.lastname@example.org