I met Vera Koo in 2013 when I competed at the Bianchi Cup for the first time in Columbia, Missouri. During the awards ceremony, a few women handed out roses to all the female competitors, mentioning they were from Vera. How nice was that? Even though she rarely attended the evening’s festivities, she always sent roses, every year. 

My admiration of Vera began when I found out her shooting career didn’t start until she was in her 40s, the same as me at the time. She gave me hope and validation for my new career path; she became my inspiration. It wasn’t too late for me to try something new. 

Michelle Cerino and Vera Koo at the 2015 Bianchi Cup

Imagine my excitement when I started writing for The WON and learned Vera was also a columnist. I anxiously awaited each month to read her next article, learning bits and pieces about her life. 

Michelle and Vera 2016 Crawfish Cup

In January 2016, when I became managing editor at The WON, my relationship with Vera grew. I now had the opportunity to work with her on a monthly basis – since she sent me both her photos and copy. I enjoyed my sneak peek at her inspiring adventures. As I read the copy, I felt like Vera was telling me a secret, well … until I posted it online at The WON. 


For Christmas of 2017, Vera Koo sent me a signed copy of her book, The Most Unlikely Champion. Since I thought I knew everything about her, I simply glanced through it and then, set it aside for a few months. What a mistake … I couldn’t have been more wrong. Once I finally made the time to read her book, I didn’t want to put it down. The Vera I thought I knew was not only a world champion, but also a resilient, strong woman who deserves more respect than anyone I know.

Vera Koo The Most Unlikely Champion

The Most Unlikely Champion has many unexpected twists and turns that I never would have imagined. Each time I read one, I thought to myself, “This is Vera Koo. How did she get through this?” It’s extremely raw, yet matter-of-fact. She puts it all out there for the world to read, something not many people could do. At times, I wished she was sitting next to me so I could give her a hug. 

Jim O’Young Chris Cerino
Chris Cerino, Jim O’Young and Michelle

It also surprised me in Vera’s book when I read, “Jim O’Young ended up being the perfect mentor. His sense of professionalism was, and remains, unparalleled.” Ironically, competition shooter Jim O’Young is the first person I met in the firearms industry on my first trip to SHOT Show. It amazes me how many people’s lives in this firearms industry are intertwined and touching each other without anyone really knowing the full extent. 

Vera Koo The Most Unlikely Champion

Vera Koo’s book will resonate with any women, regardless of anyone’s feelings toward competition shooting or the Second Amendment. If you play any sport, try to succeed in a mostly male industry, are a mother or wife, were born in another country or just need a push to persevere, I highly recommend reading it. The Most Unlikely Champion makes a great gift for anyone who needs a little boost to grow stronger and conquer anything that comes her way. 

Review originally published at Women’s Outdoor News; read it here.


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