By Raychel Shaw
One of the most important lessons I try to instill in my children and students is to never stop learning! It doesn’t matter if it’s in the homeschool, Sunday school, or firearms training center classroom! As an instructor going into A Girl & A Gun 3-Gun University my goal wasn’t to act like “I’m an instructor and I don’t need anyone’s help” it was to soak up every morsel of knowledge all of the other instructors were willing to give! Sure some things I already knew and teach but some things were articulated in such a way that a light bulb came on! I learned new and extra ways to teach and do things! Having a humble attitude like that can sometimes be misconstrued as a weakness but in the end the knowledge you gain far outweighs the risk of seeming weak!
Gracie my 11-year-old daughter and I made a mother/daughter weekend out of 3GU and came back with so many amazing new friends, memories, and knowledge. Coming off the heels of that Gracie won the opportunity to go to 2A Heritage 3-Gun camp on scholarship provided by A Girl & A Gun Women’s Shooting League. She very enthusiastically accepted and started packing about 3 weeks early!
Just driving to South Carolina to the Clinton House Plantation for camp was an adventure and upon arrival we deemed to learn as much as possible yet again! This camp didn’t disappoint! One of mine and Gracie’s processes when learning is to understand the “why” and see it visually! We need to understand why we do certain things certain ways, why and how our guns work the way they do and why and how the gear functions certain ways. I can tell Gracie something a million times, but until she understands the “why” and possibly is told the same thing by someone other than dear old mom it’s not “gospel”! Then she has to see it in action! She started with Tommy Thacker on rifle on day 1 and learned why certain parts of her rifle are important for consistent recoil and grouping coupled with stable positions and on the second day was able to hit the 600 yard target 4 times under his tutelage with both Chad Francis and David Powers SCREAMING HIIIIIITTTT… don’t worry there is video!
Moving into pistol with Mike Sexton and Ashley Rhueark again she began to understand:
(A) The importance of practice, practice, practice, and fundamentals over speed!
(B) The different components of parts of her pistol working together to make her more efficient to combat things she was doing when shooting (as in her new ZEV trigger will be here tomorrow! And her sights she won at 3GU too!)
(C) Not being afraid to change it up a little! “If you want something you’ve never had you have to do something you’ve never done!”-Autumn Calabrese
Shotgun with Lena and Becky was truthfully a little on the intimidating side. She shot really strong shotgun at 3GU with my 12ga and maybe got a little over confident! She’s seen Lena shoot both in person and on TV and besides being a little star stuck was feeling like she was failing under the pressure of trying to impress. Still she regrouped and tried to maintain a positive attitude and learn as much as possible! One of our favorite songs is “Overcomer” by Mandisa and there may have been a small dance party and some loud singing to adjust our attitudes! On Day 2 Becky threw in a totally fun game of shotgun tic-tac-toe which Gracie was able to dominate against a fellow camper and started to regain some of her shotgun confidence!
On the last day of camp they shot 2 stages, one (a stage left from the 3-Gun regional the weekend before) that they had shot the first day in an effort to see how much they had improved and the other a completely blind stage where they didn’t get a walk through to see targets! We talk a lot about attitude in our household because its everything! Attitude greatly impacts (positively or negatively) performance! If you assign all the letters of the alphabet a number starting at A as 1 down through Z at 26 and add up the numbers you get when you spell the word attitude it’s 100! Coming into that first stage her head wasn’t where it needed to be and her performance showed it because she actually shot the stage better the first time only leaving one 45ish yard pistol target un-hit. Tommy recognized this immediately, he’d been with her when she shot it the first time. He pulled her to the side and literally spoke confidence into my child! I’m tearing up just thinking about it. He and Hunter Cayll pulled her aside and gave her the “why” and the visual and the light bulb came on! Arriving at the blind stage she was not 100% where she needed to be but she was better but between ROs Chad Francis and Tabor Bright she was going to laugh and OVERCOME! She ended up shooting CLEAN! What a huge boost of confidence to end on! Also it must be noted that we had two of the finest Chef’s at camp in Stefan Kadic and Jeff Hughes, we ate better than we do at home!
Following that we packed up and headed to the beach for the night with a bunch of the juniors and then to Warsport. While Gracie didn’t shoot Warsport this year she followed along behind everyone on our squad soaking up more info filming for squadmates and resetting targets. She was observant to watching what worked and what didn’t and at one point suggested that I really make a better shotgun plan and count my rounds so I didn’t load unnecessarily…ouch! She was right! I do lose count and take time I don’t need to reload sometimes! She has declared that she will be shooting Warsport next year….I’m thinking I need to lookout she’s come home determined with a fabulous attitude!
We’ve created more mother/daughter memories and made more friends who are now more like family through shooting sports than you could ever make getting your nails and hair done! The skills that are being developed empower her and give her the confidence to be who God is developing her to be. These skills will last through her lifetime, they will allow her to defend herself if necessary and put food on her table. We are so thankful to both A Girl and A Gun Women’s Shooting League and the shooting sports “village” for embracing us! They say it takes a village to raise a child….this is OUR village!