What is your sport?
I compete in trap shooting - specifically the Olympic Trap discipline.
How many hours per week do you spend training/playing?
I usually shoot between 2-5 practice rounds every Wednesday night. A single round is 25 targets which takes roughly 20 minutes to shoot, so I space out these rounds over the night. On weekends I often shoot competitions either in Canberra or out of Canberra, sometimes in Sydney, Perth, Brisbane or Newcastle.
What study are you undertaking at ANU? What year of study are you in?
I am currently in my first year of my Bachelor of Genetics degree.
How do you juggle the commitments of playing sport and studying?
It’s been difficult to work out a balance between pursuing my sporting goals and academic goals, but I have found that organisation is key. I spend a lot of time planning out my study goals for uni and allocate time each day to meet these goals. By doing so I’m able to ensure I have the time to practice every Wednesday night without the risk of not reaching my study goals. Trap shooting is very much a mental game so I need to make sure that when I’m competing I’m completely focused on the targets and I’m not thinking about uni. To do this I make sure I always give myself enough time to finish all my uni work before travelling for competition so that I don’t need to worry about it whilst I’m competing. Overall trying to balance sporting and academic commitments is challenging, but with a bit of planning it’s both doable and rewarding.
Does sport assist you in your academic pursuits?
Shooting clay targets is a very good form of stress relief! Shooting every Wednesday also breaks up the week a bit and gives me a break from studying which helps make uni more enjoyable and a bit less stressful.
Greatest sporting achievement.
My greatest sporting achievement so far has been winning the National Women’s Double Barrel championship at the 2015 Nationals. I shot 129/129 targets to beat a field of roughly 80 women from all over Australia. The previous year I was the runner up for this event so to finally win it was a very rewarding experience.
What is your long term sporting goal?
Ultimately, I hope to always remain competitive in shooting whilst pursuing a career in science. I hope to compete at open world cups and hopefully one day compete at the Commonwealth games or Olympics.
Who has had the greatest influence on your sporting career thus far?
My Dad has always had the greatest influence on my shooting career. He has been shooting for close to 20 years and was the person who introduced me to the sport. Aside from teaching me almost everything I know about shooting, he continuously encourages and supports me and has always fuelled my passion for the sport.
Who is your sporting idol & why?
My sporting idol is Catherine Skinner (despite the same last name we are not related), who won a gold medal for Australia in the Olympic Trap event at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. Catherine is my sporting idol because aside from being a humble and gracious winner (and a very skilled shooter), she managed to pursue her shooting career at the same time as her studies at university, and came out of it all with a gold medal for Australia.
Any superstitions or unusual game day preparations?
Perhaps my most unusual habit is always putting on my right shoe before the left. It’s something I’ve always done and now if I don’t I fear I might not shoot well!
Tell us something interesting or fascinating about yourself
Although I love my shotgun now, the first time I ever picked one up I was too scared to fire it! After 10 minutes of my dad trying to convince me to pull the trigger I finally did it and haven’t looked back since.
Favourite Music Artist:
Kasabian and Foals are my two favourite bands - their music never fails to get me hyped up for a competition.
If you found yourself on Masterchef and had to cook one dish to win it all, what would your specialty dish be:
Given my Greek background I would have to cook a Greek dish. I would probably choose moussaka – a dish containing delicious layers of meat and eggplant/potato.
Tanya Skinner – Athlete Post Competition Report
International Junior Grand Prix, Germany
After having recently returned from Germany where I competed at the International Junior Grand Prix for trapshooting, I can now reflect on what was an amazing experience. My team consisted of thirteen athletes under the age of 21 from all over Australia, two of which competed at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio. Our coach, Keith Ferguson, also represented Australia in Rio and now has his sight set on the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
The competition was held in Suhl, Germany and included all shooting disciplines, drawing competitors from 64 different countries. We spent a total of 10 days in Germany; the first 8 of which were devoted to training and getting used to the range, and the final two days which were official competition days. On the days that we trained we often woke up early to head out to the range and practice before returning to the town to do some sightseeing and exploring. Although our scores during training were quite up and down, by the last day of training most of the team had gotten used to the foreign range and were shooting some promising scores.
On comp day I competed in the junior women’s Olympic trap section, shooting three rounds of 25 targets in the one day. Disappointingly my performance wasn’t at the level I’d hoped and I didn’t make it into the final, nor did I achieve my personal goal of scoring above 20/25 targets in each round. As frustrating as it was to shoot so poorly, I couldn’t be too disappointed after fellow teammate Stephanie Pile qualified for the final which consisted of the top 6 highest scoring shooters. Although she didn’t place in the top three, it was great to watch her competing in the final for Australia. The following day the junior men’s trap competition drew to a close, where two of our teammates placed both first and second (Mitch Iles and Jack Wallace). This was an awesome result for our team and for Australia. Another great result for our team came from Aislin Jones who ended up winning gold in the junior women’s Olympic skeet. Spirits were definitely high after such a successful team effort as we headed back to the hotel for the last time.
Although I was disappointed with my scores, I undoubtedly learnt a lot from my first major international competition. I’ve now learnt how to deal with jet lag pre-comp, how to travel with a large group and work as one supportive unit, and most importantly how to deal with my nerves on comp day. Being the biggest competition I’ve competed at, knowing that I was representing my country added a lot of pressure. Looking back on the experience I know that I let the pressure get to me on comp day which had an impact on my performance, but I’m confident now that with the experience behind me my results will improve at future competitions.
Competition aside, the trip will be one that I will always remember. Germany is a beautiful country and it was great to experience another culture. By the end of our time together the team had become a close group of friends. We spent plenty of time exploring Suhl and trying different German foods (although I’m not very adventurous with food) as well as making friends with the other teams that were staying at our hotel. Every part of the trip was memorable, from attempting to order dinner as a team from a pub where the owner didn’t speak a word of English, to watching our teammates smash the final to win gold and silver in the pouring rain. I’m so grateful to have been given the opportunity to represent Australia alongside such a great team and experience such a fun, challenging and rewarding trip. I look forward to competing alongside my teammates in the future.