It’s funny how familiarity works. When you see someone nearly every spring for more than a decade, you think you know them. From the smiles on the range and the casual quick catch ups, in truth, these interactions just skim the surface. I’ve been shooting with Vera Koo for many years. We’ve competed against one another in steel shooting competitions and at Bianchi Cup. We’ve even shared a podium as teammates representing the Unites States in World Championships. I thought I knew a lot about her, that was until I sat down and learned her story by reading The Most Unlikely Champion, her own memoir.

Some backstory, Vera and I are both passionate action pistol shooters. In fact, we both started our pilgrimage to Green Valley Rifle and Pistol Club for the Bianchi Cup at almost the same time. Where I was a rosy-cheeked private on the US Army Shooting Team, Vera was nearing her 50’s. A beautiful and poised Asian woman, she and I were both far from the typical participants in this male-dominated sport.

As a young competitor, I respected Vera. If I could use only one word to describe her, it would have been tenacious. An early riser, she’d start her training days like I did, often among the first to open the range gate and hang her targets. I admired her intensity and her dedication to her own routine. I respected her work ethic and drive. I even studied her shooting style with open-minded consideration to see if it might work for me.

Reading through the pages of The Most Unlikely Champion, I wasn’t at all surprised to read about her views on work, mastery of skill or goal setting.

“Goals are important to me. I think of them as seeds. When I decide to plant one, it’s going to branch out and germinate in my mind until I see it to completion.”

Vera’s dedication to be the best shooter she could be was something she could never hide. Tucked away beyond all the hits in the 10-ring, there is so much more to her life and her story.

Continue reading this review at Women’s Outdoor News here.