Rotorua's Emily Hammond has taken her first step into the international sporting arena.

The 17-year-old Western Heights High School student has tried several sports in the past, but in smallbore rifle shooting she has found one she both loves and excels in.

Last month she travelled to Nelson to represent the North Island junior team in the annual Target Shooting New Zealand inter-island match.

While it was the South Island who were victorious, Emily performed well enough to be selected in the New Zealand Junior Women's team to face Great Britain the following day.


"It came as a bit of a shock to be honest, I didn't really know how the New Zealand selection worked at the north-south competition, which was on the Saturday.

"All of the scores in each division, from the North and South Islands, were put together and the top 12 scorers made it into the New Zealand team," Emily said.

The following day, the New Zealand representatives competed against Great Britain in a postal international. Both teams took their shots and the scores will be posted online to decide a winner.

"I think I went pretty well, I was happy with it. It didn't really hit me straight away, that I was representing New Zealand, it all happened pretty fast. When I got the silver fern for my jacket, that was pretty crazy. I think it's something I'll look back on."

Smallbore shooting comprises shooting at a paper or cardboard target from 20-25 metres with a .22 calibre rifle at 10 individual bullseyes. Each competitor's score is the total of each of those shots.

"I grew up on the farm and I used to go out hunting with dad a bit, so I had been around firearms. My brother's girlfriend's family did smallbore rifle shooting and in Year 10 I joined the school club, before joining the actual club (Target Shooting Rotorua)."

When shooting from such a distance, the slightest movement can result in a shot being completely off target. Learning to relax and focus has helped Emily in the sport as well as in every day life.

"It's a sport that doesn't require a lot of energy, they literally say your aim is to be as relaxed as possible. It requires quite a bit of focus, but I've found that actually quite helpful because of my anxiety.


"There's a specific breathing technique you have to do to slow everything down, so doing shooting I was doing that every week - having a bit of a break, breathing and calming down.

"I've been dealing with anxiety for a few years now, high school brought it on with exams and stuff. At shooting, the breathing and being able to slow down and really focus on something is quite good.

"The best thing is the people, it's great. You become good friends - even just going to Nelson for a couple of days, I became good friends with people from Southland, Mid Canterbury, Palmerston North, all over the place."

The sport also taught her to put mistakes behind her and move on.

"That's a big thing because you shoot once into each target. If you have a bad shot, the main thing is to think 'well I can't change that, move on and focus on the next one and try to fix it'.

"I suppose I'm a little bit competitive, I don't mind going out to competitions. If I win, it's great, if I don't, it doesn't really bother me, as long as I feel like I did my best.

"It's not a mainstream sport like rugby or football. I played all the different sports at school. I'd definitely encourage people to try it, try anything once really.

"It's a great community and it's good fun. You have to take it somewhat seriously, because you're around firearms, but that's great in terms of education purposes. Safety is the priority, but you also have a good time."