Taking time off and concentrating on F-Class rifle shooting refocuses 4-time champ
Port Clinton, Ohio - You could say shooting is in her blood. Raised in a home where national titles were about as regular as Johnny Carson on late night, it was only a matter of time until Michelle Gallagher won a National NRA Rifle title of her own. Or, as is the case this year, a fourth National NRA Long Range Rifle Championship.
“I started shooting when I was about 7,” Gallagher explained. “Mom was taking me and Sherri (her sister) to the range ever since we were little kids. “
As with most shooters, it all started with smallbore. Working on stance, trigger control, and reading the wind, the light rifle fulfilled every shooting desire until an international match in New Zealand for the Palma World Championships.
Her mother a competitor and her stepfather the captain, Gallagher was merely a spectator. But what she saw from the stand sent her heart all a flutter.
“I saw those Palma team jackets and that was it. I wanted one of those jackets. So we went home and Mid (her stepfather Middleton Tompkins) built me a Palma gun.”
Though the desire for a jacket was strong, the switch from smallbore to high power didn’t come without complications. In fact, Gallagher admits to shooting with her eyes closed for the first six months.
“It was such a big kick.”
Soon the kick wasn’t so big. Using the skills she acquired in smallbore, Gallagher rose through the ranks until winning her first NRA Long Range High Power Rifle title three years later. With two more championships under her belt, she ultimately achieved her initial high power goal in 2007 with a spot on the United States International Palma team.
Jacket and all.
Preparing for the NRA Rifle Championships
Gallagher doesn’t shoot much of the sling rifle these days. In fact, the last time she wrapped said sling around her left arm and sent a few shots 1,000 yards down range was the 2013 NRA Long Range High Power Championships. Which begs the question – how did she manage to win without any practice?
“I’ve been shooting F-Class.”
Now how does shooting on a bi-pod make you a better sling rifle shooter?
“You have to take the targets into consideration,” she began. “F-Class targets their 10 ring is our X ring. So the wind calls have to be spot on, there’s not as big a cushion as you get with sling rifles. And I think that helps a lot.”
Another part of Gallagher’s preparation that helps a lot is her relationship with her parents. World class shooters on their own, their status has changed from mentors to peers. An odd situation at first, the family eventually found a way to make it work.
“They still help me a lot, but they ask for my advice as well. They taught me a great deal and I’ve tweaked that with my own experience. Now we’re building off of each other rather than just me asking for advice.”
Rediscovering her NRA Long Range stride 13 years after her last win means Sherri’s sister is likely to stick around the sling rifle arena for a little while longer. Though her work organizing a second Creedmoor Cup in 140 years means F-Class will hold most of her attention, the thrill of the NRA Championships still puts a twinkle in her eye.
“There’s just something about shooting here at Camp Perry,” she said taking a deep breath. “It’s just special.”
For more on NRA's Competitive Shooting Programs, visit their website at compete.nra.org