Aislin Jones sets Junior World Record in Mexico
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Young Lakes Entrance shooter, Aislin Jones added to her passport stamp collection again over the last week. This time heading to Guadalajara, Mexico for the first ISSF World Cup for 2018. Travelling with the Australian Comm Games shooting team in preparation for the Gold Coast games in a few weeks time, this event is Jones first international event for what will be a busy year.
Having recently turned eighteen Jones shoots as a junior in open competition against the cream of the worlds female ISSF skeet shooters. She is the only athlete under 20 years of age, and the youngest in a field where the eldest athlete was 43.
The first day of the event was well timed with official practice taking place on the 9th of March - International Women’s Day. The significance being that at the start of January a rule change now sees women competing in shotgun sports at Olympic level competition shooting the same number of targets in their event as the men, as another sport achieves equality.
The move to 125 targets from 75 targets means the event is now contested over two days, something which Jones was looking forward to.
Speaking from Mexico after the event Jones said, “125 targets is a really important change in our sport. Shooting more targets rewards the consistent shooter. Everyone is in the same situation. But a round you’re not happy with in three rounds of 25 is a killer. At least in 5 rounds you can maybe get away with one dropped target without it being disastrous like it is in a 75 target event.”
The range in Guadalajara is at about 1500 metres above sea level, significantly higher than any international venue in Australia. The background for the range is also very different, something Jones found quite challenging.
“You don’t get long to adjust. We arrive, have one day to recover from the flight, a warm up day where you might get 3 or 4 rounds, official practice and then it’s on. At home if you have trouble on a target you can shoot it over and over again, here you get each target in sequence and move on to the next range.”
“I didn’t adapt as well as I had to on this background and that was expensive on my first day of competition. I’m disappointed with my score because I know I can do a lot better.”
Aislin’s Father and coach, Dave Jones, doesn’t travel with the team and said coaching from afar adds to the challenge of the sport, “Aislin’s still only very young in this sport. At 18 she is by far the youngest there. Others have had years to develop their process for adjusting to new grounds, Aislin’s still learning hers - and some of them have their coach travelling with them.
"So getting feedback by phone, or maybe a short video, on how it’s going you have to make some assumptions. This time we worked out too late that her background perception was an issue, she fixed it for day 2 but it was a day late.”
“Everyone is dealing with the same issues though, and some favour different sorts of grounds more than others. Many of the Europeans like the big earth banks covered in lots of shade cloth or grass for a uniform colour. This layout wouldn’t have appealed to them, and looking at the scoresheets a lot of shooters struggled in stations 2 to 4, particularly as every ground was a bit different.”
An 18th place at her fourth World Cup, just 8 targets off qualifying for the final, might not have been the result Aislin hoped for this trip, but she has gained a place in history setting the Qualifying Junior World Record for the new 125 target event format at 106/125. Scores aside, not many ever get the privilege to hold a World Record and Jones is very pleased to be able to say that she has.
“I’m a bit conflicted. I may not be happy with the score - my PB over 125 is 119/125 at the moment but domestic events don’t count for records. I don't have to be happy with the score, and I know I'm better than that, but it's really exciting to be in the record books even if it's only just for a little while. My goal now is to beat it at my next event and keep it for just a bit longer.”
Jones team mate for the Commonwealth Games, defending her Glasgow 2014 Gold Medal, Laura Coles was also in Guadalajara, and shooting 107/125 placed 16th.
Jones flies back into Melbourne on Wednesday but won’t be around for long. A training camp in Brisbane a week after she gets home will see the Australian team get some time on the new range built for the Commonwealth Games. She then flies to Sydney for the ISSF Junior World Cup at Sydney International Shooting Centre, and the back to the Gold Coast to move into theCommonwealth Games Village at the end of the month.
Unfortunately due to schedules and ticket sales being finalised prior to the rule change the Commonwealth Games will be the last event that Women will shoot 75 targets on one day under the previous rules, with the top six going through to the 60 target final which is expected to be televised.
Aislin’s event will be held on Sunday 8th April, and a group of about 30 eager family, friends and sponsors will be cheering her on from the stands, while others back home will be hoping more of the shooting sports are televised from the Commonwealth Games than we saw from Rio.
Aislin Jones is sponsored by Gippsland's Gold 98.3 FM & 1242 AM and TRFM