Geoffrey Mervyn Ayling AM
Born 9 November 1939
Following the First World War, returned Australian servicemen helped establish local shooting clubs around the country where military issue .303 Lee Enfield rifles were used until well into the 1960s. These were gradually replaced from that time by purpose built target rifles.
Shooting, in Commonwealth countries in particular, became a very popular and successful sport. Tasmania played a significant role in the development of this pastime, producing many outstanding full bore shooters. Geoff Ayling was one of these first class sportsmen. His shooting record is unparalleled in Tasmania - in fact, he ranks in the top echelon of the all-time great Australian shooters.
Geoff started his career in 1953 as a 14-year-old and is still shooting today, having competed around the world both as an individual and as an Australian team member. His record of performances is quite amazing even when viewed as cold, hard statistics. On the local Tasmanian scene - at club championships and one day aggregates - he amassed a staggering 350 plus wins, including six Tasmania Queen's Prizes.
A Queen's Prize event is an annual competition conducted in every state and territory and is awarded only to the winner of that event. It is staged over 3 days with 10 targets at each of 10 distances ranging from 300 yards to 1,000 yards. It is a trial of both stamina and skill and requiring intense concentration.
At the Australian level, Geoff won four other Queen's Prizes and a National Queen's as well. Internationally, his successes include a 1980 Queen's in Barbados, a 1981 World Championship Gold medal at the 'home' of shooting at Bisley in England and in that same year, he won the coveted Queen's Prize at Bisley, where 1700 competitors vied for that honour.
He added a further Queen's to that already imposing list when he was successful in the Kenya event in 1990. In addition to these wonderful individual results he represented his country with distinction at two Commonwealth Games. He was selected for the Edmonton Games in 1978 and finished just out of medal contention. But in Brisbane in 1982 he shot superbly and won the Gold medal in the pairs with his NSW team mate, Stan Golinski.
His great shooting career was capped early when, in 1979, he became a Member of the Order of Australia which was awarded in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the sport of full bore target shooting.