Top Shot favorite stops by Brownells/NRA luncheon to meet young shooters
Las Vegas, Nevada - Gabriela “Gabby” Franco has been in high demand as of late. Not only is she a sought after NRA Certified Instructor in the Miami area, but she's also making personal appearances, serving as pistol instructor for local police departments and competing in a variety of tournaments. Probably not what she was expecting after finishing in the top six of History Channel's Top Shot competition … probably a lot more.
That is why we were so grateful to have her speak at the 2013 Brownells/NRA Youth Shooting Sports Ambassadors luncheon at this year's SHOT Show. With parents, chaperons and industry representatives gathered round, Gabby took to the podium and explained how shooting helped focus the truly important aspects of life.
"There is one course of training, even after thirteen years, that I will never forget.
"My training went on for hours and hours in those days. Trying to become the best. At the end of one session, the coach handed me forty pellets. Forty pellets to make forty perfect shots. All I had to do was call each shot correctly. He said if you make the shot then you move on. But if you miss ... if you miss then you have to give me five perfect pushups."
Undaunted by the challenge, she started off hotter than the Miami Heat. Pellet after pellet landing perfectly in place. But, just like the Heat last night against the Chicago Bulls, her luck ran out. It was pushup time.
"When he said perfect he meant perfect. Start with your nose to the ground, no knees on the floor, perfect. After finishing the first set, my arms were shaking, I was out of breath and really disappointed in myself. Never a good thing to be.
"I finished my training four hours later. Shoulders swollen, tears in my eyes and very tired."
Making her way out of the facility, her coach appeared with a smile. It was better than he expected.
"He said he knew that at some point that I was going to do pushups. He was waiting for me to say I couldn't do any more. That I couldn't go on through the pain. But I didn't. He was proud of me. It was a lesson in perseverance."
A month later, at the Pan American Games in Canada, Gabby qualified for the Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia with a silver medal.
"I had mixed feelings," she explained. "I was happy to win an important medal, but I was going for the gold. Then I found out that I was going to be the first female shooter to represent Venezuela at the Olympic Games.
"All the knowledge and all the wisdom that was passed on from my coaches, is what made me what I am today. A successful competitor, an NRA Instructor, and a thriving businesswoman. All the loses, being humble when I won, that's what made me the shooter I am today.
"The best reward, beyond all the recognition, the medals and awards, is that today I am a proud citizen of the United States.
"Now more than ever, I truly understand, what Winston Churchill meant when he said 'Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.'"
Wiping tears from her eyes, she made her way to the ambassadors ... some of whom were crying as well. They talked of similar experiences, past competitions, and where they hoped to be in the near future.
Gabby, ever so comfortable in her new role as the veteran adviser, stayed until the last one gave her a hug and walked away. Happy to pass on the lessons she learned so long ago.