For Frank Haigh selection for the GB shooting team was a dream realised - so imagine how he feels now after bagging a European gold medal.
The 66-year-old from Baythorne End, near Haverhill, won gold at the European Compak Shooting Championship in Rio Salso, Italy as part of the three-man GB team in the Super Vets Category - for competitors aged 65 onwards.
When Frank earned a place in the GB clay shooting team via qualifying at Barbury Shooting Ground in Wiltshire it was the first time he had done so.
But joined by team-mates, five-time individual world champion John Bidwell and Trevor Stanton, he returned a European champion at the first attempt following four days of shooting that saw each marksman shoot 50 clays per day - a total of 200 targets each.
He said: “It was the first time I had shot abroad. It was tremendous.
“It was up and down every day. It was very close right up until the end. It was very nerve wracking.
“This is all about the Team GB and not letting them down.”
Going into the final day of the competition, which had 32 nations represented, GB were in a strong position, but Frank admitted he focused solely on the targets and not the scoreboard.
“I didn’t look at the scoreboard. We knew we were close when we finished on Saturday night. There were three shots between us and the French.”
In the end, in temperatures of up to 38 degrees, Frank and Bidwell were in the last round of shooters and they managed to get the team’s overall score up to 540 out of 600 targets, five clear of the Italians and a further four clays ahead of the third-placed French.
Frank, who is originally from Sudbury, said: “We went out there to win. GB has got some of the best shooters in the world and we have done for some time.
“We knew from day one that we were near the top and it continued like that. We were probably within two to three targets of winning, sometimes dropping below, but we knew we had a good chance.”
The good news continues for Frank, who next week heads to Spain with the GB FITASC (French International Federation For Clay Target Shooting) Sporting Super Vets Team for the World FITASC Championships.
He qualified for the team at the FITASC British Grand Prix Selection Shoot in Gloucestershire in mid June.