Once Upon A Time…

A girl met a guy. The guy is a competitive shooter, so he invites the girl to a competition shooting match. The girl observes a few matches, then decides to become a participant. The guy and the girl spend more and more time together. Then the guy and the girl fall in love. Now the guy and the girl are getting married — at a match — in October!

John & Mel, Carolina Cupp 2011

Ok, so there’s a little more to it than that, but that’s basically how I met John (revolver shooter extraordinaire and my own personal Superman), and how I became involved in competitive shooting.

I’d always had an interest in learning to shoot. Before I met John my only experience with a firearm was in summer camp when I was ten years old, and I shot a small rifle of some sort in a camp competition. In the many, many years that had since passed, I’d not handled any type of firearm. My desire to learn about shooting, however, had been growing for quite a while. But if you know nothing about guns, where do you go to learn, and who do you ask whom you can be confident is a truly knowledgeable source? I didn’t really know where to start.

Meeting John was a great blessing, in more ways than one! In addition to having years of experience with firearms of all different types, he has a long list of credentials and he’s a certified NRA Instructor. He began by teaching me the basics: first and foremost — GUN SAFETY!

1. Always treat every firearm as if it’s loaded.
2. Keep your finger off the trigger until your sight is on the target.
3. Never point a gun at something you aren’t prepared to destroy.
4. Know your target and what’s beyond it.

Then we progressed on to more of the fundamentals: how to draw, proper grip, proper stance, stay relaxed and breathe, get your sight picture and sight alignment, easy trigger pull, etc. It all sounds simple, but in the beginning it’s a lot to remember!

After attending two or three matches and observing, I was overwhelmed with the need to participate. The competition just looked like too much fun; I had to join in. But I had no gun, so what was I to do? Here comes John to the rescue! My first match I shot a Smith & Wesson 686 revolver with speed loaders…

Smith & Wesson 686


Revolver Speed Loaders

WOW, what an exhilarating experience that was! We were at an indoor range, and I’ll never forget how nervous I was the first time I stepped up to the line and the Safety Officer told me to “Load and make ready.” (Range commands will vary somewhat depending on the particular game you’re shooting.) When the timer beeped, I drew from the holster, engaged all the targets in the proper order and with the required number of rounds, then unloaded and showed clear, and reholstered. The range was called “Safe,” and the target scoring began. Honestly, I can’t remember how I did that first time, but from there on I was totally hooked. Spring loaded revolver speed loaders I began shooting with John at all the IDPA and USPSA matches in our area. I even shot a couple of ICORE matches. Two months passed and I knew I loved shooting but began to realize that perhaps shooting a revolver was not quite the best fit for me. After doing some research and handling various pistols, I bought a Glock 17 on February 14th of 2010. (Nothing says Happy Valentine’s Day like a 17 round magazine full of 9mm ammo!) Immediately I knew that a semi-automatic pistol was going to be an aide in improving my shooting and make competition more fun. I’ve now graduated to a Glock 21 which shoots .45 ammo; I like the extra weight of the ammo and the gun, and – .45’s make bigger holes in the targets! The visible difference between the model 17 and the model 21 is perhaps not quite immediately distinguishable in the pictures, but there is a noticeable difference when you handle and/or Glock 17 shoot each one.

Glock 17



Glock 21










Now after almost two years of shooting competition matches almost every weekend, I’ve learned that building skill and developing ability takes time. I’m a C class shooter in USPSA, and a Marksman in IDPA. And the confidence I’ve developed is well worth every single shot fired down range! John and I are certified Range Officers and Safety Officers. We shoot USPSA, IDPA, 3 Gun, and have attended numerous Appleseed events. We volunteer to assist with NRA Women on Target clinics. We have worked stages as R.O.’s at several state level USPSA matches, and were S.O.’s this year at the 2011 IDPA Carolina Cup. John and I have even started our own new shooter friendly competition: ZSA (Zombie Shooters Association), which has been hugely successful in drawing new people into the sport of competition shooting.

My next ambition (after the wedding, of course): become an NRA Instructor. What better way to increase my own knowledge, and at the same time have the opportunity to reach out to women and encourage them to learn about firearms? Whether a woman has an interest in competition or not, she will benefit from learning firearms safety, having at least the basic training, and possessing the confidence to know she could handle a firearm if it ever became necessary.

Ladies, I can promise you this: you will meet some of the best and most genuine people in the shooting community that you could ever hope to meet anywhere. You will make more friends than you could ever imagine possible. So I encourage you, if you are not a shooter — get involved! You may not be as lucky as I was and meet the love of your life, but you never know! And if you’ve already found your significant other, becoming a part of the shooting community will allow you to make lots of wonderful new friends!



Questions or comments? Please feel free to contact Mel at
[email protected]