IT was 37 years ago that Ben Emms continued a family tradition by taking up the sport of shooting and now, after countless hours spent at the range, he is set to represent Australia at the Commonwealth Games.
The fifth-generation shooter from Lyndhurst is one of two fullbore competitors who have been nominated by Shooting Australia to represent the country in both individual and pairs events.
As a member of the Games team he will put his skills to the test at the Belmont Shooting Centre in Brisbane in April – skills that he has worked hard to develop.
“I’ve been shooting since 1981. My family have owned the property where the Lyndhurst Rifle Club is since it’s been there, since 1913, so I got born into the sport you might say,” Emms said.
“My grandfather shot for New South Wales and captained New South Wales in the 60s and my father shot and I carried on from there.
“I’ve been shooting at a representative level for probably the last decade and I have been pretty keen to see how far I could take it. Winning the World Championship in 2015, that was a big highlight, I was the only Australian to ever have won it.
“I won the American title in 2014 and went to South Africa early last year with the Australian team, so I’ve been very lucky.
“This will certainly be a career highlight … it’s like any sport, you only get out of it what you put in.”
While representing Australia is nothing new for Emms, to earn a Commonwealth Games nomination he needed to impress in the Australia Cup series last year.
That he did, Emms very nearly winning the event well. He and Sydney shooter Jim Bailey were locked on an aggregate 662 points in the final selection trial shot over ranges from 300 to 1,000 yards.
“I shot in a series called the Australia Cup Series, which was an elimination thing to get through to the Commonwealth Games. I finished second,” Emms said.
“It was three rounds, the first two rounds were open to the full field and then you had to be in the top 10 to make it to the final round.
“It was real close, we were on the same actual points, but in fullbore shooting they have something called a centre bull, and they counted it out but he was a couple of centre bulls in front of me.”
Bailey claimed placed first on that centre bullseye countback, having recorded 70 to Emms’ 61.
But both earned a Shooting Australia nomination for the Games, which will run from April 4-15.
The shooting events commence on April 8, with fullbore one of four disciplines on the program, the other being pistol, rifle and shotgun.
The live stock auctioneer for Ray White Emms Mooney will have his skill, accuracy, concentration and speed put to the test against some of the best in the world.
Both Emms and Bailey have already proved they will be a combination to watch in the pairs event, having won silver at the 2017 Commonwealth Shooting Federation Championships in November.
Those titles served as a test event for the Commonwealth Games.
“I’m keen to have a crack, because these teams are bloody hard to get into, no doubt. The people at the top are all pretty hard to beat as well,” Emms said.