Familiarity alone however was not enough for James Willett to turn an Olympic record into a medal when the Victorian was knocked out in the shoot out for a bronze medal to finish fifth in the double trap.
When 12-year-old James Willett showed he had an eye like a dead fish his dad built him a shooting range on the family’s farm.
It was almost identical to the one his now 20-year-old son was shooting at on the outskirts of Rio on Wednesday in a grimly desperate area of Deodoro where owning a gun and knowing how to shoot is not a sport, unless you count target practice at police blimps.
The only thing really likely to be missing from the range at the farm outside the Murray border town on the banks of the lake – without wishing to speak for the Willett musical taste – was the jaunty lounge music bing played throughout on big speakers. Guns are enough to scare the sheep.
The other thing drought prone Mulwala might have lacked was the drizzle and wind that buffeted the traps thought the day and worsened for the finals.
Willett qualified for the final with an Olympic record 140 from 150 shots. On the way he shot two straight clean sweeps of 30s. He could not miss. And that continued into the final. His first 13 shots and powdered the pink clay. Then he missed two from four.
It seemed to rattle his nerve. It was about now you remembered Willett is just 20, barely more than a kid.
From being in the gold medal hunt he was abruptly in a sudden death shootout for bronze. He hit one from two shots and was out. That was it. It was as undiscriminating as a gun sport should be.
“These finals systems we all start equal in the semi finals, that is just the way the sport is you only have to mss a couple and you end up missing out on the medals but that is the ay it is just deal with it and ope for the best next time,” Willett said.
With country pragmatism he looked to himself for blame; nothing else and in a very non-country way he was not cursing the weather.
“I just missed. There was nothing really to blame, just me,” he said.
“It was tough today, conditions were tough but [I] wasn’t [quite good] enough to get in the gold medal match so not much I could do about it.
“I’m pretty happy with my first Olympics – 20 years old – it was a great experience today, I missed out on the medals but I will take it home and work on it for Tokyo.”
Willett was the youngest in the field by a generation, he is routinely the youngest in any international field by a generation. That generation told in the learning and experience in a major competition.
“It’s a big mental side of the sport I will take from here. It was good to make the final I was pleased with the end result. There was a lot more pressure here than any other competitions I have been to.
“I still haven’t been competing for two years in this event so it gives me a lot of confidence going in to Tokyo and the next four years.”