Aislin Jones has certainly made an impression on the Australian shooting community in the past year. The Victorian teenager has excelled in state, national and international competition in Olympic skeet, and is now headed for the Rio for her first Olympic Games. I chat to her about her journey into shooting and the year ahead.
I believe you started shooting with your dad, who is a keen clay target shooter. Do you remember the first day you went to a shooting range? What was your first impression?
The first time I remember going to the gun club with Dad was an exciting experience. Clay target shooting was so different from anything I had seen before and it looked like so much fun. I got to push the buttons to release the targets and I collected empty cartridges as souvenirs. After following Dad around the club for a few competitions I had a go with my Dad’s 12 gauge shotgun. I didn’t shoot at a target but just got a feel for the gun. Initially I wasn’t so sure about it because of the recoil – I was only little at the time. After a couple of weeks, Dad managed to find a little second hand 20 gauge which had slightly less recoil. I loved it and shot with that for the first couple of years until I could handle a 12 gauge.
Have you tried other disciplines, or have you just focused on skeet?
I initially started off shooting simulated field. I still shoot a bit of that now. Then I had a go at American skeet for several years before transitioning to the international discipline of ISSF skeet (which is what I shoot now). There are a few differences between American and ISSF skeet. In ISSF Skeet the targets are about 5m/s faster, there is a random delay so I don’t get it straight away when I call for it and instead of being able to have the gun already mounted I can’t mount the gun until I see the target. In ISSF Skeet once you’ve seen the target you have about three quarters of a second to mount, aim, shoot, find the second target, aim and shoot that one. And there is lots more pairs than there is in American Skeet.
What appeals to you most about skeet shooting?
I enjoy shooting ISSF Skeet because its challenging and it’s an Olympic discipline.
You recently did very well in the Qatar Open. What was it like travelling to the Middle East to compete?
It was a different experience in terms of the culture over there. It makes you appreciate the many different cultures of the world and how different they all are. I liked the food, the range was incredible, the event was really well run and it was the shortest trip to another country I’d had yet.
You’ve certainly achieved many incredible feats in the past year, with your selection as the youngest ever member of the Australian Olympic shooting team being announced last month – congratulations! How long have you had the Olympics in your sights?
I met my coach Lauryn Mark after Dad promised me some coaching if I was enjoying the sport. I think it was at our second coaching session when we sat down and mapped out an 8 year plan to Tokyo in 2020 – thinking that Rio would be too soon. So I guess I’m ahead of schedule 🙂
What do you consider is the personal high point of your past year in competition, in the lead up to your Olympic selection?
It would have to be when I equaled the Oceania record in December with a new PB of 71/75, setting a new Junior Womens Skeet record at the same time. I then repeated that feat a week later at another event. Winning the nationals wasn’t bad either.
What is your weekly routine like, now that the Rio games are just around the corner?
When I am at home I am training 3-4 times a week on the range, shooting between 100 and 200 targets in a training session. On nights where I don’t shoot I either do gun mounts in the mirror or train on my DryFire Simulator. The DryFire is great because I can shoot 150 targets in the lounge room in front of the fireplace. On top of that I go to the gym, workout and try and fit some homework in.
Travelling to the heat and humidity of Brazil from Victoria will be a big change in climatic conditions for you. Do you have some strategies in place to manage the change and its impact on your body?
I’m not really worried about it. I’ve shot in the heat plenty of times in Australia and I arrive in Rio a week before my event so I will have plenty of time to acclimatise.
Do you feel that there are any major obstacles preventing young female shooters from getting into shooting in Australia in the present day?
No I don’t think there is anything standing in the way. It’s heaps safer than playing netball, if you want to have a go, you should go find your local clay target club and ask to have a go. In most states you can try it under supervision before you need to get a license and clubs are usually pretty friendly. Members should be happy to help out. I would run out of fingers on two hands thinking of girls my age from my area that shoot regularly.
If there was one thing you could change in the Australian sporting community, to help make lesser-known sports like shooting more accessible to young girls, what would it be?
In the leadup to these Olympics it’s been great to see the Australian Shooting Team, particularly the females in pistol and shotgun getting positive media attention. It’s great for the sport.
All the best for Rio, Aislin!
Support Aislin and follow her exploits by visiting teamaislin.com.