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Shooting is in Natalie Smith’s blood.  

The Paralympic bronze medallist’s late grandfather reached national level in the sport, though he passed away before Smith picked up a rifle.  

“After I had my accident, I went to a Paralympics Australia ‘Come and Try’ day and I just found that it really fit,” Smith said.   

“My Dad and his siblings weren’t involved in shooting at all and it devastated my grandfather. 

“Dad said that if my grandfather had been alive today, he would’ve been ecstatic that somebody was actually passionate about his passion too. I think it was always destined to be.” 

Smith is now set to become a four-time Paralympian after earning a Paris 2024 quota spot competing at the World Shooting Para Sports World Cup in India recently.   

The London 2012 medallist competed in two women’s rifle events, across 10 metre and 50 metre distances. She secured the quota in her second event, the Women’s 50m Rifle 3 Positions. 

Smith said she was surprised by the result. 

“I didn’t think that I had a good shoot,” she said. 

“Things leading up to the event were going well and so I was disappointed in myself because I hadn’t made the final. 

“I thought ‘There go my chances’, so then to find out that I had the quota, I think I was just in shock. It really took a couple of days to sink in.” 

Smith said there’s still a lot of work to be done before the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games. 

“There’s a lot of preparation, my preparation changes a little bit now to be geared towards European times, being weather acclimatised,” she said. 

Smith’s next competition is the Changwon 2024 WSPS World Cup in Korea next month. 

“This competition is just to consolidate and really give us a chance to get back out there,” Smith said.   

“I haven’t had a lot of international competitions this round. So I’m just getting back into the swing of things.”  

In the meantime, Smith will spend time on the range, making sure her equipment is ready to go and working on her confidence.  

“I always seem to do better the bigger the competition is or the more pressure that I have on myself,” Smith said.  

“I don’t like to be ahead; I always find if I’m if I’m winning in the finals I’ll make a mess of it.   

“But if I’m not, then I can usually do better. I fight really hard.”  

The Paralympic shooting events will be held at the National Shooting Centre in Châteauroux between August 30 and September 5.  

By Natalie McGarry, Paralympics Australia 

Published: 25 March 2024