Sports teach you a lot of things – winning, losing, teamwork, responsibility…. the list can go on and on. The shooting sports, like any other sport, is no different.
Young shooters go through the same learning and training as any other athlete. From gun safety to the fundamentals of firearms, they spend countless hours at the range continuously trying to perfect their shot. While we don’t often hear about it in the mainstream media, competitive shooting is a highly recognized sport.
The Olympics, the world's oldest and most acclaimed tradition as sports are recognized, includes the shooting sports. Offering three disciplines, five events for each discipline, nine events for men, and six events for women. High schools and colleges often have competitive shooting teams as well that travel all around the world.
A young competitive shooter not only has to physically train, but must mentally train too. It's a sport which requires a lot of discipline where athletes must learn to balance their daily lives alongside their training schedules.
We’ve taken a look at a lot of competitive shooters who have changed the shooting sports industry, so now let’s take a look at the future of our industry. These up and coming athletes are quickly making a name for themselves and will make an impact for future generations to come.
Born and raised in California, Molly's father taught her how to shoot at the young age of 10. A year later Smith entered her first competition, the Steel Challenge. Now at 19, Molly attends several matches a year while also writing about them at Millisecond Molly or on her personal blog The Molly Minute.
At 16 years old Jonah Avenell has been competitively shooting for less then a year but has already picked up some major recognition. Avenell grabbed top junior at the regional championship in the Texas Mover. He has also received an honorary medal from the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit. Jonah is coached by his Australian born father and competitive shooter, James Avenell.
Mark and Becky Yackley have three boys who, just like their parents, are all into competitive shooting. Andrew 12, Sean 16, and Tim 18 were born and raised on the family farm in Wisconsin. They are the largest family unit competing in shooting today and are all part of Team Stoeger. Tim as the eldest has been a High Junior in 17 matches over the last 2 years, with his brother Sean right on his tail, placing second to him at the USA Midway NRA Bianchi Cup in 2015. Andrew, the youngest, still has something on at least one member of his family - he often hits more A's then his mom.
New Zealand born Kiwi, Tiffany Piper won the Midway USA & NRA Bianchi Cup this year as the Women's Champion. Coached by her father, international and competitive shooter Karl Piper, Tiffany has been practicing on the range since she was just 10 years old.
Lucas didn't start his shooting career until he was a freshmen in high school. The following year he was heading to the USA Shooting's National Junior Olympic Shooting Championships. After attending, he was inspired to continue shooting in college where he is now a Junior at NC State. This past summer Lucas was a 2016 Olympian competing in the Men's 10m Air Rifle, but now it's back to school.
This young sibling duo are none other then Landon and Claudia from Ammo Alley loyal sponsors at the Midway USA & NRA Bianchi Cup. Doug Alley (dad) and his son, Landon, have been competing in the Cup since 2009. Claudia, joined the competing circle with her dad and brother in 2012.
Welcomed into the Trijicon Pro Staff Team this year with his father and mother beside him is Colton Cerino. Not only are they competitive shooters but all three are dedicated firearms instructors. Colton started competitive shooting when he was only 12. Now a student at University of Akron, he continues to compete in national and international shooting competitions.
Kayle started shooting with her dad when she was just 8 years old. Starting with sporting clays she made the All-American Team 4 years later at 12 years old. In 2007, Kayle was selected to the Shotgun Junior Olympic Team and later that year won the bronze medal in the National Junior Olympic Championships. Her most recent win in 2015 with a Silver Medal in the National Championships.
Competitive shooter John Wellman introduced his son Tre to pistol shooting well before the father son pair participated in the 2012 Midway USA & NRA Bianchi Cup. Tre continues to shoot and represent team USA in the Junior Division at the 2014 NRA World Action Pistol Championship.
Christopher Dixon entered the world of competitive shooting following in the footsteps of his older brother Tre and their father. Gaining valuable coaching from their father, Tre also strives to make a name for himself. The pair can be followed on their Facebook page, Chasing the X.
Vanessa Aguilar is the youngest member of the San Antonio Sure Shots Pistol League at just 10 years old. Aguilar shoots rimfire and pistol. Despite having a hearing impediment, she does extensive training as she prepares for IDPA and Steel Challenge competitions.
Despite being born with no hands, Hunter AKA Nubbs has become an amateur 3 gun shooter and USPSA shooter. To learn more about Hunter's incredible journey to competitive shooting, check out his appearance on NRA All Access.
Most people wouldn't have known about Thrasher until the Olympics this past summer in Rio where the West Virginia University Sophomore grabbed a Gold Medal in the Women's 10m Air Rifle. Even before grabbing gold, Thrasher has an extensive list of shooting accomplishments which she attributed to her grandfather who passed on his passion for shooting through their hunting trips together.
Emmy Robinson, 16, is a competitive pistol shooter. She started shooting when she was 5 years old and began with .22 rifles. She was hooked after that and started participating in GSSF events the following year. Since that time, Emmy has participated in 8 or 9 GSSF events per year and on the advice of a family friend, Emmy started participating in USPSA matches. In 2015, she earned “High Lady, Production Class” at the Alabama USPSA Sectional and most recently at the North Carolina USPSA Sectional.
Trevor Koenig remembers picking up his first firearm at just 9 years old and two years later, at 11, he shot his first match. After that his Dad, World Champion Shooter and Hunter, Doug Koenig started seriously coaching his son. Trevor competes in IPSC or 3-Gun matches. He recently joined his father at the Sportsman’s Challenge and if Trevor has an eye like his father then the shooting world better watch out.
Alex Larche, 17, grew up in Bastrop, LA competing in rifle competitions with his dad and frequently watching Shooting USA. From there, he began shooting in pistol competitions Alex spent time watching shooting programs on television with his father, placing in the top ranks of several local, regional, and national matches. He skyrocketed through USPSA ranks, achieving Grand Master the age of 14. He also recently became the first member of Taurus’ Junior Team, Young Guns.
Matt Chezem, 24, first learned about high power rifle shooting when he was 16 by by shooting the same type of rifle his grandfather used in World War II, an M1 Garand. He then moved up to more modern rifles and and became a member of the California youth rifle team, the California Grizzly’s. In 2012, Matt won the Gold for prone in the Junior Olympics in 2012 and became a member of the Junior Olympic Rifle team. Currently, he attends University of Akron and competes on the school's rifle team.
Olympic skeet shooter Morgan Craft, 23, actually grew up shooting rifles in 4H. When she was 14, she began shooting international skeet. She has earned many titles since then including 2014 USA Shooting National Championships Gold Medalist, 2015 World Champion, and most recently 2016 Olympian.
Shyanne Roberts began target shooting when she was only 5 years old with the help of her father. At age seven, she began competing in sanctioned matches throughout the Southern New Jersey area. In, 2013 she placed 2nd in the Women’s Division of the NJ State Ruger Rimfire Challenge, beating numerous adult women in the process. Shyanne has competed in a wide variety of disciplines including IDPA, Three Gun, Action Rifle, Steel Silhouette, and USPSA.
Tori Nonaka, 20, is a member of Team Glock. She grew up around firearms beginning at age 3 when her father began teaching her firearms safety and the fundamentals of marksmanship. Tori began her competitive shooting career at 12 years old and immediately began to gain attention. She has won several titles including 2009 Steel Challenge Junior World Champion, 2010 USPSA National Single Stack Juniors Champion,and the 2010, 2011, and 2012 IDPA National Juniors Champion.