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Like father, like son: Shooting for glory

Antony Perry

15 December 2017: Like so many athletes before him, Tom Ashmore is the product of his father. The 21-year-old pistol shooter’s enthusiasm for the sport he thrives at was born out of his dad’s love for the activity.

James Ashmore was in high school when he first picked up a rifle and fired it at a target, igniting the passion the pair now shares.

Tom became eligible to apply for a shooting licence when he turned 12 and he did so speedily. But while his father’s involvement in the sport has been largely recreational in the years since, Tom has fired on all cylinders.

Last month, the University of Canberra student capped a meteoric rise by placing second in the men’s 25 metre rapid fire pistol event at the Oceania Shooting Federation Championships in Brisbane. The result elevated him to second in the Oceania rankings – a career high.

As of July this year, he is also ranked second in Australia in the same discipline.

“It was the culmination of a lot of hard work,” Tom said of his silver medal-winning performance at the Belmont Shooting Complex. “I trained for two months leading into the event and it was nice to see the hard work pay off.”

It was an all-Australian affair in Brisbane as Tom was joined on the podium by fellow countrymen Sergei Evglevski, who won gold, and Bruce Quick, the bronze medal winner.

With the clean sweep in the final, the trio condemned its three New Zealand opponents to the ultimate humiliation, while fuelling the Australian team’s confidence ahead of the Commonwealth Games next year.

Tom hopes to represent his country at the event, which is being staged on the Gold Coast in April. Should he qualify (he is widely expected to), it will complete a whirlwind 12 months of competition for the 21-year-old.

This year he competed in events in Germany, Austria and India as he looked to build on the bronze medal he won in 2016 at the Junior World Cup in Azerbaijan. He reached that goal in Brisbane and hopes to continue his ascension at the University World Championships in Kuala Lumpur early next year.

Like many young athletes, however, Tom has one eye on life beyond the sport he loves. He is currently studying a double degree in business administration and management at the University.

Tom admits juggling a double degree and a rigorous training and competition schedule can be gruelling.

“It’s difficult at times,” he said. “Between training and travelling for competitions, you can easily fall behind and there have been times when I’ve had to lighten my study load to stay afloat.”

The juggling act won’t get any easier anytime soon. Tom is not yet world ranked, but he harbours an ambition of entering the global spotlight sooner rather than later, which means competing in more international events.

The University has a team dedicated to supporting elite athletes like Tom in their sporting endeavours. From providing financial assistance to organising flexible study arrangements, the University enables aspiring and established sportsmen and woman to play and study.

Tom said the University’s support services were a lifeline when you needed it, but he’s got another way of coping with it all.

“I love knowing that Dad enjoys the sport just as much as I do and when I need to relax and unwind, we can always go shooting at the range together,” he said. “It’s like my own secret weapon.”