At the age of 41, I picked up a gun for the first time with the intention of learning to defend myself and my children. I was the mother of 5, the youngest of whom was 2-years old. Little did I know that my journey in gun handling and self-defense was just getting started. Many classes, certifications, instruction and years later, I find myself in a strange zone. As a small, middle-aged, petite Asian woman, what place do I have in the gun world? No, I don’t match the profile of a shooter, but my heart can’t shake my passion and interest. With my role as an instructor and shooting club leader on hold, I’ve been questioning whether my season is fading. And then I read this memoir, The Most Unlikely Champion, by Vera Koo, and the embers reignite. 

When Vera Koo enrolled in a firearm safety course at a college in the 1980s, she could not have looked more out of place. She was a petite, middle-aged Chinese-American woman in a class mostly full of men. She had little experience with firearms and took the course to further her knowledge so she would no longer fear guns. Little did she know that safety course would set her on a path to becoming one of the world’s most accomplished professional women’s shooters.

What is going on? Is this my story? No, but could it be? Within a few pages of reading this book, I knew I was going to love this woman. “She hopes that people, especially women, will recognize aspects of their lives in hers.” Uh, yeah! Check that box, Vera!

I want to warn you that there are spoilers in this review because I can’t help but speak about some of her greatest strengths without mentioning her darkest struggles. So if you haven’t read the book and want no spoilers, come back to this review after you read the book, and tell me what you think. 

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The Review

It begins and ends with Vera’s shattering falling accident in 2013 while training for the Bianchi Cup. (The Bianchi Cup is the NRA National Action Pistol Championship, a huge and prestigious event held during 3 days that draws the best of the best.) She provides more insight and details into the accident and recovery throughout the story as she looks back on her life. When you realize how serious her injury is, and that she was in her mid-60s, the return to a highly rigorous and competitive event truly seems unlikely. But with characteristic determination and focus, she achieves that objective – not for the sake of winning, but for the goal of overcoming.

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


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