You don’t have to spend much time at the Mildura Clay Target Gun Club to find out how appreciated and loved 90-year-old shooter Jim Vale is.
Mr Vale has been part of the club since he moved to the district in the early 1980s, starting up the yabby farm at Gol Gol.
He took up clay target shooting in the 1970s after enjoying bush shooting with his brother and father.
“I used to like going shooting rabbits and wildlife,” Mr Vale said.
“I guess you could say shooting is in my blood.”
Celebrating his 91st birthday in June, Mr Vale is still as sharp as a tack − both away from and during competition.
Not only is he a regular at the clay gun club, Mr Vale shared a cheeky smile as he admits he tap dances once a week, as well as enjoying a hit of table tennis weekly.
“When you are 90, you have to keep active to keep going, and if you don’t keep active you will rust,” Mr Vale said.
“Clay target shooting for me is so relieving.
“I can be full of tension, but I can go out there and shoot and it just relaxes all that.”
On Saturday in the Club’s 105 Target Medley Championship, Mr Vale scored 135 from a possible 155.
When I spoke to Mr Vale before presentations he declared cheekily: “I could win something today – with a bit of luck!”
Mr Vale did go on to receive an award – he claimed the honours in the B Grade competition.
While Mr Vale was visually pleased to receive the first place sash, you only had to look around to realise his fellow competitors were almost as happy at the achievement.
Most people at the club have a fond memory to share of Mr Vale, and everyone has something nice to say about him.
The feelings are reciprocated by Mr Vale, who said he has a lot of time for his fellow club-men and women, describing them as a “wonderful bunch of people.”
Mr Vale has plenty of great memories from clay target shooting, but he said one stands out from 2010.
“My favorite memory is going to the gun club in Horsham, the Central Wimmera Target Clay Club − I went there to shoot the North West Zone Single Barrel Championship,” Mr Vale said.
“And out of 92 shooters I was the only one to shoot the full possible.”
Now, despite his age, Mr Vale has no plans on putting the gun away anytime soon.
“At 90 years of age I suppose it is an achievement to still be doing this,” Mr Vale said.
“But my aim is definitely to go a bit higher than this.”