Timing is everything. Bailey Groves can tell anyone that.
The Launceston precision shooter hauled in four gold from four – including a new national record – at the 2016 Pistol Australia national championships in Perth.
He called the performance his “best day” of shooting ever, which also ensured the 18-year-old had booked an Australian spot for the International Shooting Sport Federation junior World Cup in Germany from April 29.
“I was a bit surprised a couple of times but as virtually all of my events fell on the one day, I just had a really, really good day,” Groves said on his clean sweep of gold.
“I was hoping for at least a medal finish, but getting gold medals in all of them was a nice surprise and a nice reassurance of my skills.”
The West Australian capital bore witness to Groves’s golden swag of wins in the junior national 10m air, 25m rapid, 25m sports and 50m categories to earn the Pistol Australia nationals junior aggregate perpetual trophy.
Groves also set a new national mark for the 25m rapid pistol following his record 562 points score.
An additional bronze in the men’s 10m air and a fourth in the men’s 25m rapid had the teenager wondering what might have been.
A neck strain and a head cold just after his university exams affected his shooting in obtaining Olympic quotas, resigning Groves to watch the 2016 Rio games from his family’s Launceston home.
“If I competed like that this weekend at the Oceanias (Olympic quota event) last year, I think I would’ve won the quotas for Australia,” Groves said.
“I could tell being the start of the year and not having a lot of study on, just coming off a summer break, it is just a completely different attitude.
“A completely different headspace that helps.”
Groves felt he thrived on pressure in Perth for the four-day championships over Easter.
Last year at the nationals, he was satisfied to walk away with two gold medals and standing alongside on the podium in two other events.
The Tasmanian Institute of Sport Scholarship holder now feels like he has a mentally stronger edge.
“It’s a completely different feeling because my main competition at the nationals are the same people at smaller competitions across the year,” Groves said.
“But the nationals have two or three times more competitors and you never know who could come out of nowhere.
“So you just go in wanting to do your absolute best and there’s a lot more pressure, but it’s exciting to have a lot more pressure.”