Shooting great Eric Miles retires from sport at 85

They talk about legends very lightly these days, but Eric Miles is truly one of Parkes' treasures.

Eric has been shooting since he was a young lad, reaching the pinnacle of his sport, and contributing considerably to its success and longevity in Parkes.

And all the time after ironically, losing a hand in a shooting accident when he was just 21.

He never considered it a disability and shot in open competition - against the very best - for more than 60 years.

Now, at the age of 85, Eric is reluctantly considering stepping away from the sport he has loved and nurtured for most of his life.

The Parkes Gun Club has been his passion during all this time. He was a founding member, has held almost every position on the committee, is a Life Member and perhaps its most successful shooter.

It all started way back in 1952 at a Forbes Picnic Shoot with a borrowed gun and cartridges - aged just 17.

He enjoyed some success at a few district shoots until the decision was made to form a Parkes Gun Club.

"I joined with (the late) Garry Wilson and seven others and we purchased an old school house which is still home of the Parkes shooting complex," Eric said when reflecting on his career.

"In the early days, Hay, Deniliquin (in NSW) and Shepparton and Alexandria (Victoria) held big money shoots, often with cars as prizes.

"We followed these shoots quite keenly."

In the early 1960s, inter-club shield team shoots became popular. They were very competitive and extremely prestigious.

"The Parkes team really started to stand out," Eric said.

"Our first team in those early days comprised Garry Wilson, Robert Ellison, Bruce Wenban, Jim Watts and myself.

"The team, followed by other younger members, dominated team events all over NSW for the next 20 years or so."

Eric wouldn't say so, but he captained these teams to 39 wins at four Sydney clubs, as well as Bathurst, Dubbo, Cowra, Canberra, Wagga, Griffith and Cobar, among others.

Eric's shooting ability caught the attention of state selectors, especially after winning the High Gun at the state elimination shoots, and he was drafted into the state teams several times during the 1960s.

He also won the NSW State Mixed Target Championships in 1976.

His wins in major individual and team shooting events state-wide (too many to list) continued while all the time ensuring the Parkes club continued to develop.

Eric's interest later started to turn to tower shooting and he followed that circuit with more success.

Among them the Riverina Tower Championships in 2012 and the following year, victory at Junee.

These were his last major wins - at the age of 80!

Not many top sportspeople seem to find time to put something back into their sport.

But that was something Eric was determined to do.

As well as starting the Parkes Gun Club, he has been a member for some 63 years.

During that time, he has served on the committee virtually non-stop, was Club Captain for 25 years, President for several terms, Life Member since 1990, and Publicity Officer.

And just for good measure, he was recognised by the local community for his success and service to his sport with induction into the local Sporting Roll of Excellence (now on display at the Parkes Leagues Club).

At a local level, Eric won most of the club's major shoots at one time or another - but sadly, just the one has alluded him.

"I've enjoyed success at some time or other in all the local events, but I couldn't get the Double Championships. It always escaped me, even though I took part many times," he laughed.

Eric celebrated his 85th birthday in February this year and still has an interest at the club.

"I've enjoyed every minute of it but I guess, there comes a time when you finally have to let go," he said.

Eric now enjoys heading off in the caravan with his wife Colleen.