Last weekend saw Gebben Miles win the FITASC World Championship at the Northbrook Club in Chicago, Illinois, with a score of 191ex200, ahead of Ben Husthwaite and Giuseppe Calo. We managed to grab some time with Gebben to find out about his performance, and to get the story of the man behind the scores.
ShootClay : Firstly, many congratulations on your excellent win at the FITASC World Championship at Northbrook – we were following the excitement from the UK. How does it feel to win a competition like this?
Gebben Miles : Matt, it feels great. It’s been a goal of mine since I attended my first World FITASC in San Antonio as a boy. To have the dream come true is an amazing feeling!
SC : Has the fact you are World Champion sunk in yet?
GM : It’s starting to sink in. I’m still pretty numb to it all but doing interviews is helping me sort through the emotions and realize the magnitude of the victory!
SC : Your honour roll is impressive – to what do you attribute your consistency and success?
GM : I work really hard at my game physically, mentally, and spiritually. I’ve made so many mistakes along the way but I’m reminded daily, win or lose, that God is perfect and His grace is sufficient. That helps my keep perspective and deal with adversity. I think that’s why I manage to stay consistent.
SC : Lets go back to the beginning – we understand that you picked up shooting after suffering a sports injury, can you tell us about that transition and how you really developed your skills in the early days?
GM : Trying to come back from injuries to golf and basketball was a bit frustrating in my teens and so I was able to release that frustration in shooting somewhat. When I was 18 some doors opened for me in shooting and I decided to see how good I could get. The work ethic I learned in golf and basketball helped me to be dedicated in training to be a champion in shooting. I always knew I could be great and with help from my coach Steve Schultz we started on that journey in 2004.
Over the last few years I’ve received some great encouragement from the likes of George Digweed, Ben Husthwaite, Richard Faulds, Wendell Cherry, Bill McGuire etc. and it has really helped me stay positive and believe I could be the best in the world at some point.
SC : We know that you spend a lot of time coaching shooters – what is your advice for developing and aspiring shooters?
GM : I love coaching people! I’ve recently launched an instructional DVD called Quiet Dust Shooting which shows people what I teach and I’ve heard many success stories already from people who’ve learned from it.
Some quick advice I would give people is let your athleticism come out in shooting and let your eyes stay focused on the prize (the target)! Working on the fundamentals should never be overlooked and developing a consistent and thorough pattern is key.
SC : Quiet Dust Shooting sounds like an excellent programme – we’re really looking forward to getting a copy and reviewing – how would you summarise the video and what it gives to the viewers?
GM : I teach people 10 different techniques I use, and when and where to shoot these techniques. I also have a section on the mental game. The way that we filmed and edited this video will hopefully raise the bar for instructional shooting videos.
SC : Do you still practice? How do you make sure that you are hungry and prepared for a big tournament like the World Championship?
GM : I practice as much as I feel I need to. Certain times of the year that looks different. Leading up to a big shoot like the World FITASC I will shoot quality practice every day. I will try not to burn out. I know how good I can be and knowing my identity in my relation with God and His love for me fuels my motivation to practice.
Having a coach like Steve Schultz isn’t bad either, he has believed in me since day one.
SC : Many of our readers are interested in your gun and your kit, what do you shoot with? And what is in your range bag?
GM : I shoot with a Krieghoff K-80 Pro-Sporter (UK Link), the engraving and stock work are custom and no gun company treats its shooters as well as Krieghoff! I shoot with Muller Chokes (UK Stockist here), Oakley Glasses and Remington shells at the moment. Promatic help me out with trap machines.
SC : What is your pre-shot routine? How do you stay fully focused for a full round of challenging stands?
GM : I cover my pre-shot routine in depth in my Quiet Dust Shooting video and how I stay focused. I basically visualize what I need to do on the set of targets and when I’m confident in my plan I then let my mind relax for a few seconds as I pray and remind myself who I’m competing for (Jesus), then I amp up and get focused. I do the last 2 steps every pair and all 3 steps for every target in FITASC which takes about 3-10 seconds depending on the difficulty of the shot.
I try to relax and be myself between stations and layouts. I like to chat it up with fellow shooters and when I have alone time on the course I pray and use that time to recite Bible verses that apply to focus and using my gifts to glorify God.
SC : Some lighter questions to finish with. You must travel a lot for your shooting, which are your favourite grounds and ranges to shoot at?
GM : I love shooting at home in Tucson, Arizona. We have phenomenal grounds to train and compete on. However, I’ve been fortunate to shoot at some exquisite grounds across the world and some of the finest are in the UK. I love going over there every time.
SC : A lot of top shooters seem to be superstitious, do you have anything we should watch out for when you are on the peg?
GM : No I’m not superstitious at all. I keep an open mind and adapt to circumstances. I don’t want my performance to be dictated on circumstances having to be a certain way. No matter what happens on the peg I need to be able to deal with it. That’s what marks consistency. For instance, I had an unfortunate run in with a referee who emotionally got involved on my 5th to last peg of the World this year and was very distracting. If things had to be just so I would have let that situation cost me the title but I kept my cool, prayed, regained my focus, and finished strong with 48/50 on the last day.
SC : Finally – one last question – if you could choose your ideal shooting squad (dead or alive), who would you choose to compete against and with?
GM : That is an interesting question. I would love to be squadded with George Digweed, Ben Husthwaite, Richard Faulds, and Stuart Clarke. I admire all of those guys and think that we all could learn so much from each other and really enjoy the competition. I don’t know how they would all feel about it, but I would love it. Maybe the 5 of us could do a Pro Shoot out at some point and put it on TV or something. That would be cool.
Gebben – once again congratulations for your success in the World Championship – it’s a great honour to speak to a World Champion in any sport, let alone the one we are so passionate about. Thanks for taking some time to talk to ShootClay.
Matt Rutherford – ShootClay