Living the life
Emma Cox joins Deb Meester and Ben Richards as a Field & Game Australia ambassador and tells us how a lifetime in the organisation has taught her the value of habitat.
Field & Game Australia brand ambassador Emma Cox doesn't remember a time when she wasn't a part of the organisation. Since she was a toddler, Emma has been a regular at Shepparton Field & Game where her parents Kerrie and David ran the kitchen. “Until the age of 12 I went to the conservation events with my dad before I started hunting ducks," she said. "It was fun, I learnt a lot about the bush and ducks. “I'm still mates with all the people from FGA that I started with, and their children." She remembers clearly her first duck: a crosser, which perhaps gave an early indication of her talent with a shotgun. "When I was 12, I would go up the Gunbower Creek with Dad and my cousins,” she said. “My first duck was a teal flying straight across the creek and I got it with a 410, I was too small for bigger shotgun. “My dog went and retrieved it. It was fun." Emma is still a Field & Game regular despite branching out with great success into the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) and Australian Clay Target Association (ACTA) shooting disciplines. At the time of writing, Emma was leading the qualification race for the ISSF World Cup Finals in Rome this October after taking gold in the Women's Trap at the recent World Cup Shotgun event in San Marino. While Emma won't be competing at the Rio Olympics, she will be watching closely because the competition results will count in the qualification race. She has set her sights on the 2020 Olympics and did not waste any time moving on from Rio. Having trained exclusively for Olympic Trap (trench), Emma displayed her versatility by switching to down-the-line and winning the DTL Nationals in Wagga Wagga. In July she was heading to the DTL World Titles in Ireland as captain of the Women's Mackintosh Team. "I dropped one single barrel to finish with 749 out of a possible 750 points," she said.
"No other person at the Nationals did that."
Emma's pursuit of success at an international level leaves little room for shooting Simulated Field but whenever it fits her schedule, you will find her on the range. "Simulated Field is a big part of my training. ISSF and ACTA are hard but you are shooting the same targets all the time," she said. "A month before a competition, I go back to Field & Game and get my gun swinging again."
Emma was 15 before she started shooting clay targets, mainly because of dry conditions, which restricted duck hunting. "I got into targets when it was quite dry and there weren't a lot of ducks," she said. “I needed to keep practicing and developing, so I shot Simulated Field and ACTA."
Emma believes her hunting experience gives her an edge in competition, especially if fickle winds are changing the flight of targets. "I'm quite a natural shot because I shoot a lot in the bush," she said.
"If it is windy and the targets are changing, I feel more comfortable."
Emma grew up participating in wetland clean-ups, pest-control activities such as fox drives, and conservation work, including erecting and maintaining nesting boxes.
These days her schedule is filled with training and competition (and a nearly completed university degree in teaching) but her love and respect of the bush is something that is ever present. "A lot of my conservation work isn't organised: I go out into the bush on my own a lot and I pick up rubbish wherever I see it,” she said. “Conservation is certainly something that draws me to Field & Game."
There is another aspect of Field & Game that remains an important release from the pressure cooker of individual competition. "It can get demanding, so to go back to Field & Game and just walk around in a squad with my mates, it's fun and it reminds you why you love the sport," Emma said.
"I like how we are also trying to get rid of the redneck stereotype that persists with hunting, I'm glad I can be involved in it."