Shotgun spells success for local woman

Solvang native Ashley Carroll credits her father, Charlie Carroll, with instilling in her the love of shooting clays and a sense of responsibility and safety around firearms.

Ashley Carroll is traveling the world to compete in trap shooting

By Raiza Giorgi

Ashley Carroll does everything she can keep her concentration between rounds by wearing dark glasses and listening to music as she pushes through each trap-shooting match.

Santa Ynez Valley native Ashley Carroll won her first World Cup gold medal in Acapulco on March 19.

Her process is definitely working, because the 22-year-old from Solvang won her first World Cup gold medal in Acapulco on March 19.

“I keep my pre-shooting routine going and I’ve met with sports psychologists to help me with my mental focus and staying calm. It can be hard when you have people talking to you between matches, and I really try to pick a song and focus on it,” Carroll said.

Carroll has been trap shooting since she was in second grade. It was an activity that she and her father, Charlie Carroll, did together. He is now the coach for the Santa Ynez Valley Sportsman Association’s Scholastic Clay Target Program, in which hundreds of kids from all around the Central Coast participate.

“He wouldn’t let me shoot until I could hold the gun up on my own for a good amount of time. We would set up boxes in the living room and I would practice for hours until I was ready,” Carroll said.

She she believes that more kids should take lessons and learn their way around a gun.

“Guns actually kept me out of trouble, because every Friday night and most weekends my dad and I were at the trap range practicing or participating in league events. My friends would want me to go to a party with them and I knew if I did I wouldn’t get enough rest or get in trouble and not be allowed to shoot,” Carroll said.

Trap shooting has also allowed her to participate in a sport and travel all around the world for competitions. Recently she went to Azerbaijan, a former Soviet republic east of Turkey.

“It was a beautiful country and one of the cleanest places I’ve been to. The streets were impeccable and the people were beyond hospitable,” she said.

Carroll also won bronze in the HH Sheikha Fatia Bint Mubarak Women’s International Shooting Championship in the United Arab Emirates on April 13.

Since graduating from Santa Ynez Valley Union High School Carroll has been attending the University of Colorado and working on her general education. She believes this will be a big year for her shooting. She moved to Colorado Springs to be close to the Olympic Training Center, which is also the headquarters for USA Shooting. She placed second for the 2016 Olympic team trials and is still deciding if she wants to go for the next Olympic tryouts.

“A highlight for me was meeting Kim Rhode, who has been an inspiration to women in shooting. After talking to her it became really clear to me that I can achieve this as well,” Carroll said.

Rhode became the first athlete to win an individual medal during six consecutive summer Olympics.  She was also the youngest Olympic shooter to win, at 17 in the Atlanta games.

Now Carroll is focusing on the World Cup finals in October. Until then she will keep practicing here in the valley and in Colorado, studying at college and, during her down time, working in the gun department at Bass Pro Shop.