INVERELL resident Peter Holzigal is breaking down barriers for blind people after winning a gold medal in air rifle shooting.
The 52-year-old won the Vision Impaired Supported 10m Air Rifle in the NSW Small Bore and Air Rifle Association State Championships at Sydney International Shooting Centre.
Holzigal comes under the B1 classification for para athletes which means he is almost completely blind.
He recently returned to the sport after a 20-year break when his eyesight deteriorated.
"It used to be a big part of my life and to be able to do it again is great," Holzigal said.
"I use to shoot in competitions at Inverell and Warialda, but my vision got worse and worse and I couldn't be involved anymore."
Vision impaired shooters use a high-speed camera device on top of the rifle which sends noise back through headphones.
Peter and his partner Bronwyn Drew, discovered target shooting as a sport for vision-impaired people in 2019.
Bronwyn lives at Coolah and won a silver medal at the state championships.
The pair travel around together with their guide dogs Nora and Patsy.
Peter has struggled to find a club locally and is looking at going to Tamworth to compete regularly.
"We only get to shoot once every four weeks, so we probably do pretty well for the amount of practice we get," he said.
"We know about seven or eight vision impaired shooters in Australia at the moment and we would love to find more.
"Our dogs go with us everywhere, they get parked behind where we shoot, they just lay down and go to sleep.
"It doesn't bother them because the air rifles don't make much noise and we aren't loud at all.
"We have to shoot indoors because equipment doesn't work in sunlight."
Peter is aiming high and has set a goal of competing at the Commonwealth Games on home soil in 2026.
Para-shooting will appear for the first-time at the event while he also has dreams of competing at the Paralympic Games at Los Angeles in 2028 and Brisbane in 2032.
For now, he will shift his focus to European competition and a top eight finish in the Home Range Cup.
Competition in the cup involves shooting at your own range over the next few months and sending the results away to be registered.
Peter has been able to travel to Sydney with the support of the Ex Sight Tandems Illawarra group.
They are best known around Sydney and Wollongong, providing tandem cycling for riders with low vision or otherwise unable to ride a bicycle by themselves.
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