Australian shooters target Olympic Games berths

Steve Larkin |

Laetisha Scanlan is among Australian shooters eyeing an Olympic spot at the Oceania Championships.
Laetisha Scanlan is among Australian shooters eyeing an Olympic spot at the Oceania Championships.

The popularity of shooting console games could soon have an Olympic-sized benefit for Australia.

As Australia’s elite shooters target qualifying for next year’s Olympic Games in coming days, gaming is a factor in increasing numbers of young women taking up the sport.

Some 14 quota spots for next year’s Paris Olympics will be decided at the Oceania Championships in Brisbane starting Wednesday – and Australia want to claim the majority.

“To win a quota in every event is the goal,” Shooting Australia’s high performance manager Kathryn Periac told AAP on Tuesday.

“That is an achievable goal but it’s a wise person that doesn’t underestimate the opposition, especially when you’re talking about the opportunity to go to the Olympic Games.”

Australia’s 2016 Olympic women’s trap gold medallist Catherine Skinner has already secured her spot for the Paris Games after finishing fourth at last year’s world championships.

Penny Smith.
Penny Smith is one of 14 shooters hoping to book a spot at next year’s Paris Olympics.

Fellow trap shooting Olympians Laetisha Scanlan and Penny Smith, who placed fourth and sixth at the Tokyo Games of 2021, are expected to feature prominently at the Brisbane Gun Club.

But Periac said rifle and pistol competitions at the Brisbane International Shooting Centre were more open amid a batch of emerging talent, particularly in women’s events.

“We had this extraordinary increase in young women, not young men, but young women, being really attracted to the sport,” she said.

“That is really heartening.

“In our rifle events, I think we will only have one senior woman, as in over 21-years-old.”

Periac said gaming was among factors behind the surge.

“There’s several different things at play,” she said.

“One is that we do have a targeted development program for young rifle shooters, it’s run by two female coaches.

“The second component is probably societal.

“I am the mother of two teenage daughters and they’re funny about what they look like and what they wear. whereas in rifle shooting it’s not the same.

“It’s less confronting, you don’t have to wear skimpy clothes, it’s not about how fit you are and all that kind of stuff, which I think attracts women.

“And I also think the younger generation are very into gaming, and it has huge similarities.”

After the Oceania Championships, where Periac identified New Zealand as the major rivals to Australia, shooters have just one more chance to qualify for the Paris Olympics.

The last quota event for rifle and pistol will be held in Rio de Janeiro next April, with the shotgun equivalent staged in Qatar the same month.