Thu, Nov 9, 2023 9:36 AM

Issy takes aim at Oceania’s best


Peter Jones

Isabella Adams adds new meaning to the phrase ‘just shooting off to Aussie for a few days’.

The 21-year-old air rifle exponent recently hooped over the ditch, competing at the week-long Oceania Shooting Championships in Brisbane, her first trip out of the country.

She was part of a 26-strong New Zealand team who competed across a variety of shooting disciplines, and one of three women’s air rifle competitors.

Issy left for Brisbane unsure of who she would be up against and light on expectation.

“I just know that the opposition will be really, really, really good,” she said with a rueful smile, “I have no expectations. I am just going over there to get experience and enjoy doing it.”

She has certainly done that, and produced some outstanding results along the way - finishing fourth in the women's air rifle, third in the women’s teams’ competition and second in the mixed pairs.

Issy on the range. Photo Jason Henry

Issy first picked up a rifle competitively during year nine, as part of the MGC smallbore team under the watchful eye of local stalwart Val Wadsworth.

She continued with the college side through to year 13, then started shooting at RSA club nights and discovered she enjoyed it.

“I came from a farming family,” she explained. “My sister and brother were really keen hunters but I hated [hunting]. I don’t exactly know why, but I did.

“My sister is a year older than me and when she started college she did smallbore and I told myself, ‘right, you are no good at hunting but that’s OK, you are going to try this other thing and see if you are any good at it.

“I certainly wasn’t that good at [smallbore] at the start but I really enjoyed it. I am a bit of a perfectionist so it suited my personality. There is nothing more satisfying than getting the dot in the middle [of the target]. I love it.”

During her final year at MGC Issy competed at the national school champs and shot her first 100 (10 bullseyes out of 10 shots). She finished tied for first place in the teams shoot with two other girls who, ironically, are now her NZ team mates.

She added outdoor shooting summer to her repertoire after leaving MGC, enjoying the added factor of having to judge wind direction and strength while lining up a target.

Around the same time, she decided to try air rifle competition, once again bringing different skills to bear.

“Air rifle is shot inside on a standing 10m range, which presents new challenges,” she said. “Standing makes it harder … you have got to be really balanced. Prone [shooting] just seemed a bit easier after that”.

It didn’t take long for success to come, finding herself consistently in the top two placings during regional air rifle championships this year.

Then, at the New Zealand air rifle championships in Auckland earlier this year, she broke through, consistent accuracy earning her victory, her first national title and a place in the NZ team for Brisbane.

“It was pretty neat,” suggested Issy. “It was a surprise … I was pretty chuffed.”

In outdoor smallbore, she has also thrived, representing her country on two occasions.

Issy was a key member of the Marlborough team that won the coveted Mortar Trophy in an annual match with Nelson and smallbore heavyweights Canterbury. Following that, she was selected for the NZ women’s Randle Cup team, which shot a 100m postal shoot against the USA and UK), and the NZ Open Slazenger Team, who took part in a 50m postal shoot against Australia.

Three international assignments add up to a big year for the gardener at Welton House and she was keen to thank her employer, Wendy Palmer, Pauline Wallace and the Inspire Foundation Marlborough for their help.

Her late grandmother, Shena Adams, contributed to the cost of her air rifle, prompting Issy to add, “it’s kinda neat that she is still helping … she’s still here in a way.”

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