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Athlete to Watch: McKenna Dahl


McKenna Dahl may not be a shooting name you know quite yet – but you will. The International Paralympic Committee even named her one of the “Top 10 Para-Athletes You Should Like Before 2016” noting “expect her to be huge come Rio 2016.” That’s tall billing for this gregarious high school senior who just last year she served as a Brownell Junior Ambassador as well as participated in the NRA’s Y.E.S. program and more recently in August, claimed her fi rst major gold medal of her budding Para- lympic Rifl e career at the IPC World Cup in Bangkok, Thailand. Dahl (Arlington, Wash.) got


her start in the sport in summer of 2009 while attending Camp Access, a summer camp for kids with disabilities in Washington. She had played basketball and other sports, but when the camp director took the 12-year-old campers to a shooting range, Dahl said she found something in shooting those other sports didn’t offer.


“I could be really competi-


tive (in shooting), but also com- petitive with myself,” she said. “I could challenge myself to be better versus trying to do better as a team.”


Dahl was hooked. After her


fi rst sectional – her very fi rst competition - Dahl was contact- ed by the NRA saying she had qualifi ed for a Paralympic camp at the Olympic Training Center based on her scores. “And that was pretty cool,” Dahl said. From there, Dahl has competed in nu- merous competitions from World Cups, to last year’s USA Shooting National Championships where she took silver in the Paralympic Air Rifl e Prone event.


Next summer, Dahl will once


again come to the Olympic Train- ing Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., but this time as a resident athlete with sights set on the 2016 Paralympic Games. Until then, Dahl has her own Megalink target system at home where she trains, fi tting in as much train- ing as possible between the de- mands of her senior year. “A lot of people see (people


with physical disabilities) and are surprised they can do some- thing like shooting,” Dahl said, who was born with amyoplasia, a rare, non–progressive muscle disorder characterized by overall lack of muscular development, loss of joint motion and defor- mity of most joints. “It’s two years until the Para- lympic Games which seems like a long time, but it’s going to fl y by and I have to do whatever I can to stay on top.”


In addition to tough training, she looks to the best for inspi- ration – closely following the careers of Jamie Beyerle Gray and Matt Emmons. “They’ve both just faced so


many challenges – even at the Olympic level,” Dahl said. “They just do their best to overcome them and challenge themselves to be better.”


And though she was just in- troduced to the sport a brief fi ve years ago, ironically the best ad- vice she’s received in shooting: “Slow down.” “You have to think of it as one


match, 60 times in a row,” she said. “If you try to think of it all as one match as a whole, you’ll get bogged down thinking about results when you just need to fo- cus on taking that one shot and making sure that it’s perfect.”


Year in Review 2013 | USA Shooting News 53


Photo by: Misty Klinck


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