Shooters at the sharp end of Olympic push

Rachael Oxborrow

Australia’s elite target shooters are in the final stages of securing quota places and qualifying for the Paris Olympics and Paralympics in July, August and September, following a tough competition schedule where their skills, stamina and mental strength have been put to the test. Teams for rifle, shotgun and pistol were announced in March with many familiar names on the list including Jack Rossiter, Dane Sampson, Dan Repacholi, Laura Coles, Brittany Melbourne, Laetisha Scanlan, Catherine Skinner, Thomas Grice and James Willett.

Athletes have so far secured 12 quota places across rifle, pistol and shotgun events and now team members are vying to qualify for the Games proper. The domestic component of competitions for Olympic hopefuls have now finished and teams will progress to the international phase of qualification. Five air rifle shooters and 10 pistol competitors started this campaign at the ISSF Final Olympic Qualification Championships in Rio di Janeiro last month. There’s no international phase for the 50m 3-Position event in accordance with the nomination criteria.

The 12 shotgunners in the running were due to compete in the ISSF Final Olympic Qualification Championship in Qatar in late April and ISSF World Cup in Azerbaijan later this month. These events make up the final component of the Olympic nomination process for those athletes. Shooting Australia Chief Executive Officer Adam Sachs travelled with the pistol and rifle teams to Rio and was excited to support the hopefuls on the international stage. “This is a significant component of the Olympic nomination and selection process for our athletes,” he said.

“At the conclusion of competition in Rio the athlete’s qualification scores, combined with their domestic performances, will tell us who’s at the top of the leaderboard in each event and will progress to Olympic nomination. There’s also an opportunity to secure additional quotas for the Australian team to add to the already secured four quotas in both rifle and pistol.”

Shooting Australia’s High-Performance Manager Kathryn Periac is supporting the shotgun team in Qatar and Azerbaijan. “Shotgun athletes are in the final stages of preparation in a three-day pre-departure training camp at Melbourne Gun Club before entering an intense period of competition against the best in the world,” she said. “The 11 competitors are all striving to finish on top of the nomination leaderboard in their events.

“Currently we have two quotas in women’s Trap, one in women’s Skeet and one in men’s Skeet to nominate athletes for. There’ll be additional quota opportunities in Qatar and we’re preparing to optimise the chances of securing one or more additional quotas, including a first in men’s Trap. Athletes are well prepared with a great team of coaches and performance staff around them. Our highly talented and focussed shooters are ready to rise and shine again on the international layouts.”

Due to a longer timeline and different selection processes to those for Olympic athletes, Paralympic qualifications are in the early stages. Natalie Smith is confirmed to compete in the 50m Rifle 3-Position, after she secured Australia’s first Paralympic quota place while competing in the 2024 New Delhi World Cup in March. Also hoping to secure a position is SSAA shooting ambassador Scottie Brydon and other well-known athletes including Anton Zapelli, Chris Pitt and Rohan Daw.

The Paris 2024 shooting events will be held at the National Shooting Centre in Chateauroux, about 300kms from the capital. The Olympic Games run from July 27 to August 5 with the Paralympics following between August 30 and September 5.

Our 2024 Paris Olympics top contenders as of March

Women 10m Air Pistol
Sascha Kroopin, Elena Galiabovitch, Katie Nicholls

Men 10m Air Pistol
Dan Repacholi, Bailey Groves, Matt Sydes

Men 25m Rapid Fire Pistol
Sergei Evglevski, Scott Anderson, Paul Eskaf

Women 25m Pistol
Elena Galiabovitch, Alison Heinrich, Ellie Rudder

Men 10m Air Rifle
Jack Rossiter, Dane Sampson, Alex Hoberg

Women 10m Air Rifle
Charlotte Bland, Elise Collier, Emily Cane

Men 50m Rile 3-Position
Jack Rossiter, Dane Sampson, James Cane

Women 50m Rifle 3-Position
Olivia Cartwright, Savanna Stey, Matilda Eylander

Women Skeet
Aislin Jones, Laura Coles, Brittany Melbourne

Men Skeet
Paul Adams, Joshua Bell, Keith Ferguson

Women Trap
Penny Smith, Catherine Skinner, Laetisha Scanlan

Men Trap
Mitchell Iles, James Willett, Thomas Grice

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