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As this year’s Talent Pool competition draws to a close, we caught up with the 2017 winner, Neil Gaff to find out how his year as the Talent Pool winner has been.

So Neil, how would you sum up your year as the Talent Pool winner? 

“This year has been incredibly busy for me, both shooting wise and in my personal life. I can’t honestly remember a weekend where I haven’t got the gun out in some way or another!

Balancing all the shooting with work and my family life has been tricky at times, but I think I’ve managed it quite well. I’m not sure that my wife will agree with that though! I have enjoyed the experience as a whole; it’s enabled me to do a lot more shooting than I would have been able to do normally. I’ve tried to shoot a variety of grounds to see as many different targets as possible and try and keep my average as honest as possible. I think my shooting has improved well over the year, but I am a realist – I realise that there is a long way to go to get to where I want to be.

What has been the highlight of your shooting year? 

“I entered the English Open Sport Trap this year up at Bywell Shooting Ground so I could fit it in with a trip home to see my parents. I managed to come joint second in class there and I was really happy with that. My folks came to watch so it was nice for them to see me shoot clays for the first time. For me to shoot well with them watching was nice, I think they understand now how seriously I take my shooting. I finished 3rd in A class in this year’s CPSA Premier League which I was happy about, it’s a long slog with lots of travelling, which isn’t always conducive to good shooting, so to come in the top 3 in class is something I’m really happy about. I was chasing a score in the 90s this year – it was a real goal of mine and I’ve managed that too. I’ve come close on a number of other occasions as well.” 

What advice have you given this year’s Talent Pool finalists? 

“First and foremost, just be yourself. People want to see the ‘real you’, not a false front. Ideally get out and shoot different grounds, the year is a big commitment so to see that you’re already getting about, travelling and shooting a variety of places is a great start. Do research on the products that you’ll be representing, people will ask you questions so you should know the answers. Look smart and presentable, you’re representing brands, so no one wants to see someone that looks like they’ve been pulled through a hedge backwards representing them. And finally, enjoy the experience!”

How is the morale amongst the finalists? 

“From what I can gather it’s all good! I’ve got a WhatsApp group running with them all in so they can ask any questions that they might have. They all seem up for the final and they are all getting out shooting. I’m excited to see who’s going to win this years competition.”

The 2018 winner will be announced after the grand final on 6thOctober…we cant wait to see who comes out on top.