Jess Burgess-Smith: Eyes fixed on the target

Jessica Burgess-Smith 1

Pictured: Jess receiving her 2019 Massey University Blue award for Target Shooting, presented by Associate Professor Dennis Slade.

With her 2019 performances earning her qualification for the 2020 World Series and a place on the long list for Olympic selection, target shooter Jess Burgess-Smith wasn’t going to let her lockdown be free of competition.

Combining with her shooting community across the country, Jess is now participating in an at-home competition designed to keep athlete’s motivation high and their competitive spirits fed.

“The competition was an idea a few of us air rifle shooters had been throwing around for a while,” Jess said. “Because we are all quite spread out over the country, finding ways and time to train together has always been difficult. The competition is based on your average match score over your last three matches. The higher the score the better. And once you shoot a new match score, the oldest one is taken out.”

Not only has the initiative increased motivation among the distanced shooters, Jess says it has also led to increased online coaching and more sharing of training ideas. She says this communication with other athletes and writing out daily plans is helping her find momentum through the lockdown.  

“I would recommend creating your own competitions or challenges. Whether they be fitness challenges you can do at home and share with team mates or other competitions that you can share online. Still having that competitiveness and something to work towards has helped me stay positive, and it might be the same for others.”

Closed borders and lockdown restrictions means many events Jess planned to attend in Australia this year, including the Australian Nationals this month, are now cancelled or in serious jeopardy. All of her national target shooting events are cancelled up until November including the North Island vs South Island competition (an international qualifier) and the inter-regional competition.

As a student athlete facing such an uncertain future, Jess has had times when she has sensed her motivation waver. Instead of watching her training come to fruition, Jess is now looking ahead to months of training at home with no ranges, no coaches and no training partners.

Luckily, Jess has access to her own target changer, meaning that despite utilising the opportunity to hone into more specific skill and strength/ balance work, she can also shoot from her family shed.

“While dry firing and position training is great and definitely helps, actually shooting has been so beneficial and I’ve managed to pinpoint some areas that need more training because of it.”

Although she considers herself extremely lucky with her family’s support amidst such a strange time, Jess admits she has a new-found appreciation for proper shooting ranges. She says being at home can provide all kinds of distractions.

“It’s not like a lot of sports where you can work out and others can operate around you - shooting requires a lot of concentration.”

“At home it can be quite easy just to say that you will train later and put it off – you don’t have coaches or other people waiting for you to show up.”

A full-time internal Bachelor of Science student, Jess is also using this time to work towards achieving her academic goals, specifically gaining entry into the postgraduate programme for Natural History Filmmaking.

We look forward to supporting Jess with her sporting and academic journey throughout lockdown and are excited to follow her success once competitions start back up.