Now, if you don't know what the National Marksmanship Matches are, it's only about 1300 people from all over the country getting together to shoot guns in competition. For two and a half weeks. In 98 degrees and 80% humidity. Crazy? Yes. Rewarding? That as well.
|This is what happens when you get 11 teenagers together to shoot guns for 17 days.|
How did I get to this point? Here's my story.
I started shooting with my father at the tender age of eight. He would bribe me with a Dr. Pepper, and we go and shoot off about fifty rounds of .22 ammo at our local range for couple of hours. (Can you say "daddy-daughter bonding time"?) Anyhow, I fell in love with shooting, and Dad ended up signing me up for the NRA Smallbore Marksmanship Program when I was ten.
The smallbore program is basically the gateway to competitive shooting, though very few shooters actually go through it. We practice the four basic shooting positions and earn awards for it. Picture karate, but with a lot more hardware.
I earned my Distinguished Expert award when I was 12. Most kids finish up with six months to a year, but little miss drag-her-feet decided that procrastination would keep me in the program for two and a half years. I still smile in remembrance. Sort of.
However, after I finished the program, I had no definable shooting goal for the first time in three years. I drifted for a while, but then finally came to the realization that God had not have me come this far to be wasting the talent He'd given me. So this year, I finally buckled under and started competing in matches.
In NRA across the course matches, I shoot service rifle. We shoot eighty shots total, twenty in standing, twenty in sitting, and forty in prone (laying down). Across the course matches (RMC's) are one of the most physically and mentally challenging things I do. It requires vast amounts of mental focus and positivity, as well as raw skill. However, they are so worth it. In order to qualify for Camp Perry, you must attend at least four of these in a year beforehand. Also, the team I'm on requires that I attend at least once a month. So, obviously, I've gone to a few of them.
On July 20, I got on a red eye flight with my teammates and said goodbye to my home and family for 17 days. I traveled across eight states and ended up Ohio. I shot with some of the best shooters in the world. I had the "Perry experience". I won gold with my teammate in a two man team match. I came home on August 5 with a new understanding about stamina and determination and shooting.
Shooting has taught me so many things but here the key points: Never give up, even though it's hard. Breathe and squeeze. The last shot doesn't matter, this one does. Don't let anyone tell you you aren't good enough, especially yourself. God gave you a talent, so don't waste it.
I'd like to thank:
God, Dad, Mom, Bob, Jerry, Jeff, and everyone else who has helped me along in my journey with shooting. I will always be grateful for it.