West Tacoma Thunderbird Lauren Phillips puts plans for rifle and future into action
Port Clinton, Ohio - Two years ago, Lauren Phillips didn't know anything about Camp Perry. She was just your average high school kid living in the outskirts of Tacoma, Washington. She spent lived her life just like any other 16 year-old; go to class, hanging out with friends, and head off to the football game on Friday night. But that wasn't good enough for her. No, Lauren wanted more. She was looking for new challenges and a foolproof plan to secure her future.
Her plan revolved around a rifle.
"I know it was going to be rough when I first started, but I wanted to go to a top school," she told us after shooting in the 2013 Drew Cup Match. "I was going to have to work every day, for a couple of hours a day, to make it work. So that's what I did."
What she was about to accomplish in those two years was receive an invite to the Olympic Training Center, pocket a partial scholarship to a Big Ten school and earn an Associates Degree.
"I can't even stop smiling."
A pair of boots, a rifle and a plan for the future
Phillips puts boots aside while shooting Drew Cup
Every summer, at the NRA National Smallbore Rifle Championships, the nation's top junior shooters are invited to take part in the Drew Cup
; an international postal match with the NSRA of England
. During this year's competition, a pair of red cowboy boots rested comfortably at the foot of one green-socked shooter. A sight that captures one attention.
"Yes, those are my lucky boots," she said a smile.
Whether it was the boots or the training, Lauren managed to rack up the 2nd highest score (580 out of 600) for the Drew Cup match. That's the highest between boys and girls … not bad for a shooter with less than two years of experience.
"All part of the plan."
The plan was twofold. Three if you count the boots.
First was her education. An accomplished student, Lauren was looking for more. More openings and opportunities than her high school allowed. That's when she discovered a dual enrollment program at a local community college. So, at the ripe old age of 16, Lauren was taking college level courses with college age students while her former classmates were still taking Home Ec and Algebra.
That means Lauren will be heading into college this fall with an Associates Degree under her belt.
Next was the squeeze. That something special to make a college recruiter (or in this case coach) stand up and remember. Something like being one of the top smallbore rifle shooters in the country.
Phillips on stage, with her boots, at NRA Awards Ceremony.
"This spring I signed with the University of Nebraska at Lincoln
. I'll have my Masters Degree by the time my eligibility runs out."
A summer spent on the rifle range
The summer of 2013 is the last summer of Lauren's youth. The last time before the real pressures of college and adulthood take hold. Instead of escaping for a month long siesta in a beachside cabana with friends, she's spending her time on the road.
"The summer started with the USA Shooting Nationals at Fort Benning - placed 10th in Women's Prone," said Lauren. "Not bad when you're shooting against olympians like Sarah Beard."
But that was just the beginning. What came next was a road trip from her home in Seabeck, Washington, to Anniston, Alabama, for a 3-Position Air Rifle Championship. From there it was back in the car for a trip Camp Perry, home of NRA's National Rifle & Pistol Championships. Three weeks on the road. And it just keeps going.
"I'll have two days after Camp Perry before I go to the American Legion Championship at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado."
It might sound like a lot for an eighteen year-old to juggle, but it's all part of the plan. All part of what why Lauren it headed to the University of Nebraska this fall with a scholarship, an Associates Degree, and a stunning pair of boots. A plan put into practice less than two years ago.
"It has been the best two years of my life."
For more on NRA's Competitive Shooting Programs, visit their website at compete.nra.org