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Didn’t realize how into the deep end I was jumping – three separate matches on three days AND executing my regular work duties? What the heck was I think- ing? I took an hour off before each match to prepare and that just made the nerves worse. My hands were visi- bly shaking before each one. At the fi rst match, I most-


ly got confused looks from people as I walked in with them and up to my spot on the line. When I saw my name for the fi rst time on the computer, that’s when it became real. Holy crap, this was really happening. Dur- ing my fi rst shot in sighters, I shot the wall. I…shot…the… wall! My mind was in sheer panic mode. I’m sure the girl next to me thought I was giv- ing birth on the line with the deep breathing I was doing. Once I fi gured out how shaky I was and how to tweak my shot process for those nerves, it got better (heck, it couldn’t have gotten much worse). Cody Manning, a University of Kentucky rifl e shooter came to watch my fi rst match (as he had prom- ised), and was making faces at me on the line, mouth- ing at me to “relax” anytime he caught my gaze. I tried my darndest not to look at him, but it actually helped. Thanks, “Coach.” Next match – wasn’t so


bad. It was so funny that each night at awards, I’d have National Team and col- legiate athletes asking how my match went, offering support, advice and even the proverbial shoulder to cry/freak out on. Entering the fi nal day,


I had last place securely locked down, so I did the


best thing I could have done for my shooting - I stopped caring. Don’t get me wrong — I wasn’t getting sloppy or goofi ng off – I fi nally just turned the computer away and shot as I had every day at lunch and how I knew how to shoot. You know what? Beat my personal best by 16 points, thus lifting me to that coveted second-to-last posi- tion.


That night at awards,


even though I was way be- hind the pack, I was actually proud of my performance. Sure, my scores were no- where near competitive, but I put the best score up that I knew I could and the athletes assured me I had done the right thing that day – just shot like I know how to shoot. Will I shoot another


match? Maybe. I’ll work on the club-level matches fi rst,


My fi rst target, from when I learned to shoot in seated, supported position.


March 2015 | USA Shooting News 43


you know, not jump into another national match too quickly (because clearly, I have already done that!) This whole thing was to learn and un- derstand what my athletes do and I learned so much more – not only the intrica- cies of how a match works, but also about the support shown in this individual sport to one’s competitors, and even a lot about myself.


My target from the fi rst relay of my fi rst match EVER at Winter Air Gun Championships in December.


I admire and salute each of you and say “thank you” to all of my coaches – in all forms. I’ll see you on the line again soon, but for now, from behind a camera lens.


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