After what can only be described as an outstanding summer, Aislin Jones, from Lakes Entrance at just 15 has earned a place in the record books as Australia’s Open Womens ISSF Skeet Champion for 2016, and the youngest woman to ever claim the title.
In warm conditions at Brisbane Gun Club on Monday and Tuesday, the year 10 student from Nagle College contested the two premiere skeet events on the Australian ISSF Clay Target Calendar; the 2016 Commonwealth ISSF Womens Skeet Championship on Monday, followed by the 2016 National Womens ISSF Skeet Championship on Tuesday. She emerged victorious in both.
She claimed the gold in both events after going into both semifinals in 2nd place. Shooting 15/16 in the semifinal to lead Jacki Richards (Qld) into the gold medal match on Monday, Jones shot 14/16 in the gold medal match for a comprehensive victory in the Commonwealth Championship. Richards took silver and Laura Coles (WA) finished with the bronze medal.
Progressing through the semifinals in Tuesdays National Championship event added the challenge of beating Cherie Ryan (Qld) in a sudden death shoot off, after both finished the semifinal on 11/16. Winning the shoot off, she challenged
Commonwealth Gold Medalist, Laura Coles of Western Australia for the gold medal. The first 8 targets of the final had the pair neck and neck before Jones pulled away from Coles in the final half, taking the title for her own with a final score of 14/16 to Coles 11/16.
The gold medal matches were tension packed but Aislin maintained her composure and shot well both days. Shooting 14/16 each day to win demonstrates her capability for performance under immense pressure. As she demonstrated in Germany in 2015, she is capable of success on the international stage.
She is now by far the youngest National Women’s ISSF Skeet Champion in the history of the sport in Australia.
Aislin said of her performance, “I wasn’t as happy with the way I shot in the qualification rounds as I wanted to be, but I knew I had to work hard in the semi’s and medal matches if I wanted to win.”
“In the back of my mind I knew I wanted to win, but you keep that there and manage the pressure that way. I just knew I had to work hard and rely on all the preparation and training I’d done. I was in regular contact with Lauryn throughout the event and we just kept to the plan. I’m really pleased with the result.”
The win caps off an amazing summer. After gaining a VIS Scholarship and a second year in the Shooting Australia team for 2016, at the Oceania Continental Championships in early December Aislin shot 71/75 in qualifying in the ISSF Womens Skeet event. In the process she set a new Oceania Region Junior Record, and equalled the Oceania Region Open Womens record held by Laura Coles (set earlier in the year at a World Cup in Al Ain, UAE.)
Her results in the Oceania Championship, and the Shooting Australia Junior Championship the following weekend, where she again scored 71/75 in qualifying, raised her to the number one ranking in the discipline in Australia.
In comments on social media following the win, Australian Olympic Gold Medalist, and two time World Champion Russell Mark said of the result, “Well done Aislin. Not too many 15 year olds can claim a National Championship. To win both events with great scores in the gold medal matches is a great achievement.”
His wife Lauryn, also an internationally successfully shooter for Australia at Olympic and Commonwealth Games level and Aislin’s personal coach stated.
“Her progress in such a short time continues to astound me. I am confident this is just the start of a very successful shooting career. I am pleased to be part of her team but her commitment and other supporters are integral to her success.”
In her usual modest fashion, Aislin wasn’t making a big deal of the wins. Her mind is set on goals such as the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games and Tokyo 2020 Olympics, and her impending trip to Doha for the Qatar Open in February, then several other international events later in the year.
At this point Australia has no place for a competitor to contest the ISSF Womens Skeet at Rio later this year, but whatever happens one thing is certain. It’s going to be a busy and exciting year for her.