Mohamad Irwan Abdul Rahman's eagle eye may have earned him a new national record but the Singapore shooter is aiming at a bigger target - to lock down a SEA Games berth.
The 17-year-old tallied 624.4 points in the men's 10m air rifle event yesterday at the International Shooting Sport Federation World Cup held in Munich. He finished 36th out of 129 competitors and missed a top-eight finish to reach the final. However, his effort eclipsed the previous national record of 624.1 set by Sean Tay at the IWK International Air Gun Competition in Munich in 2014.
In a day of joy for the Singapore team, Sng Jian Hui (624.0) and Junadie Izzat (620.7) both hit new personal bests.
Irwan, who is studying for a diploma in sports and leisure management under the Singapore Sports School-Republic Polytechnic through-train programme, did not set out to smash the national record in Germany.
He told The Straits Times last night: "Honestly, I wasn't thinking much about breaking the national record as this competition is used as one of the qualifiers for the SEA Games. My priority is to get selected for the SEA Games.
"Based on past experience, I have shot around this range before. During an earlier competition in January (the IWK International Air Gun Competition in Munich), I finished with 619.9. So it was a matter of calming myself down and keeping my focus."
His coach Lim Chea Rong was delighted with the new national mark, saying: "During training, Irwan had been shooting consistently and it's only a matter of time before he broke the record. He had been shooting scores of 626 and 627 during training."
She believes "he is definitely a SEA Games prospect".
She said: "He is more mature now, he can handle competitions better.
"There's still work to do on his sighting control. He needs more mental ability to sustain his scores as they can fluctuate sometimes but he is on track to make another breakthrough."
The SEA Games selection process concludes next month. Irwan has two more overseas meets and another local competition to go before learning if he has made the cut as one of the two men's representatives in the 10m air rifle event.
The marksman, who will celebrate his 18th birthday in Kuala Lumpur during the Games if selected, chanced upon the sport in his childhood.
Then, he tried out shooting under the Sports School's Learn To Shoot programme and was in its inaugural intake alongside 2015 SEA Games gold medallist Martina Lindsay Veloso.
He recalled with a laugh: "I wasn't a sporty person before my secondary school days but I became interested in shooting after joining the Learn To Shoot Programme.
"I guess I was just like most kids who thought that shooting would be like a video game even though the reality is very different."