Madam Hooters makes her mark

SHARP SHOOTER: Leah Costanzo is ranked amongst Australia’s top five female Down the Line clay target shooters.
SHARP SHOOTER: Leah Costanzo is ranked amongst Australia’s top five female Down the Line clay target shooters. Ewan Leighton

IT'S been a meteoric rise to the heights of clay target shooting for Leah Costanzo and she's not going to stop there.

The Summit-based sharp shooter started in the sport nine years ago when she joined the Ballandean Clay Target Club.

Since then she has been selected in several zone and state shooting teams, and even won a bronze at the nationals.

"I'm ranked in the top five in Australia for women and I'm a member of the Australian Down the Line team," Costanzo said.

"When I first started it was a sport I could do because I could no longer do anything high impact after an injury.

"My husband was a shooter ... he had been shooting for 10 years before I started."

There's no doubt most people would have watched some clay target shooting on television.

It seems a simple sport, you yell "pull" and then shoot the disk as it flies past.

But Costanzo said it was far more detailed than that, so much so some competitors put a patch over their weaker eye.

"You always try to hit a moving target - you shoot in front of it and catch it," she said.

"If it's windy you want to shoot quicker.

"It's a sport that you think would be easy, but when you become competitive you get exhausted after a day of competition because of the concentration."

Being a farmer's wife the sport doesn't come without its challenges.

Costanzo said it was often hard to get time away from the farm to compete.

But when she does she said she lined up next to some interesting people.

"I've been to shoots where you line up next to a bloke who's 96," she said.

"Not only do you line up next to someone who's 96, you line up next to Michael Diamond (Olympic and Commonwealth Games gold medallist).

"It's a close knit group the shooting community, we stick together."

In her nine years with shotgun in hand Costanzo has travelled around Australia and New Zealand to compete.

But perhaps her biggest achievement in the sport was the creation of 'Shooter With Hooters' six years ago.

"It's a promotion of women in the sport," she said.

"I sell them (t-shirts) on the internet but it's just to promote women in the sport.

"I came up with the idea six years ago. Now it's gone worldwide.

"A lot of people don't know my name, they just know me as Madam Hooters."

It's name that puts a lighter side on what many view as a serious sport.

But contrary to popular belief, apart from a few recoil wounds to the chin, Costanzo said the sport was safe.

"It's very, very safe. Safety is upmost," she said.

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