Still at the top of her game

TOP LEVEL: Liz Rymill is on top of her game, with another national crown to add to her resume. Picture: SUBMITTED

By Trevor Jackson

IT has been “a good year” according to Limestone Coast shooter Liz Rymill.

For the second time in her decade-long career Rymill has claimed a national title at the Australian National Skeet Championships.

With work commitments and children to juggle, Rymill was not at the top of her game, but it mattered not as she claimed the title after shooting 98/100.

“I had taken the foot off the pedal a bit with shooting, with three young children and other commitments on the farm and haven’t really focused on it as I have in years gone by,” she said.

“I did make the state team back in November at the state championships for the fourth consecutive year, so I thought I would go and shoot that event at the nationals, plus shoot another individual event and was fortunate enough to snag a national title.”

To add to her achievement, Rymill also made the Australian Women’s Skeet Team, which shot an event at the carnival to compete against New Zealand when their team competes and is selected later in the year.

To “snag” a national title was reward for hard work, as Rymill has attended the national ground in Wagga Wagga for the past 10 years, showing a real commitment to her sport.

“It was probably one of their bigger years … they had about 150 shooters from across the country, New Zealand and America compete,” she said.

“The competition has been getting tougher in the 10 or so years I have been shooting.

“The level has risen a lot and people are putting in a lot of work.

“A lot is concentrated on the eastern states, but for South Australia, even though we don’t have that many shooters, we still manage to do pretty well.”

Rymill was also on target in the women’s event, shooting 49/50 to avoid being the lowest score of the team.

In fact, it was the second-highest score of the day.

The score gets tallied up and then New Zealand shoots at the end of the year to decide the victor.

The skills Rymill has developed over the years were somewhat natural, after chance introduction.

“I only came into the sport about 10 years ago … tennis was my earlier sport,” she said.

“I didn’t know clay shooting was a thing until I met my husband.

“He let me have a go and I managed to hit them all, so I thought maybe I should give it a try.”

But her introduction to guns goes further back to when she was a child.

“I remember when my dad would give me a shot with the 12-gauge growing up and it would boot you in the shoulder and you wouldn’t want to do that again,” she said.

“These days the gun fit is really important.

“The gun is customised to fit you and it is basically like an extension of your arm.

“It is all very harmonious, it doesn’t boot me around, so I can shoot 100s of targets a day and pick it up and do it again the next day.”

However, more words of wisdom from her father helped Rymill continue in the sport.

“Originally it was the men in the family who did shooting,” she said.

“But dad encouraged me to do things the same as the blokes.

“I have two older brothers and he wanted me to get in there and play at the same level, to be the same as them.

“Shooting is one sport where you don’t need a physical advantage – there is no physical advantage of being a male over a female.

“It is really a hand/eye coordination sport, so as long as you can work on your own mindset, that is the appeal for me.”

Rymill likened the sport to golf, where the harder you try on the day, the worse the game can pan out.

“Just by hoping it goes well or praying for a bit of luck, it really doesn’t make it happen,” she said.

“You have to be very present, relaxed and focused.

“That I find quite calming when you look at the busyness of the rest of life.

“Most people wouldn’t think blasting away with a shot gun is a calming meditative kind of thing, but when you shoot intentionally in a sport like skeet, it can be.”

The bycatch of competing at the top level in the country is the commitment washes down through the family, with Rymill’s children well drilled in those commitments.

“They are getting to the age where they are more focused in sport, so my joy comes from watching them play sport,” she said.

“I want to keep pursuing my own goals because I think it is important they see mum and dad have their own goals.

“I don’t know if anyone else will take up shooting in the family, but I think it does encourage them with their own sport when they see some wins, but also some losses when things don’t go so well.”

With the nationals heading to Perth next year, Rymill said her goal would be to compete in the whole carnival and see how it all pans out.

“I would like to compete in the whole carnival over there and try to add a few more national titles to my bow,” she said.

“I would like to make an All-Australian team within in the next five years, but it is difficult to set a goal like that because I have young children.

“That is a six-person team and only one other woman has made it.

“I think I need to do it while I still have good eyesight and reflexes, so I might start working away at that goal next.”

If that is not enough, to add to her busy schedule, Rymill also coaches shooters, with her next session for the South East Field and Game Association on July 7.

Of course along the way the joy overthrows the pressure, which itself adds to that feeling of achievement.

For Rymill it all combines in a country environment on a farm near Penola to simply add to the overall package.

“I remember when the kids were at kindergarten, I invited the kindy kids to come out and I shot some clays that puff up into pink puffs,” she said.

“The kindy kids loved that.

“You probably can’t do that in the city.”