By Vera Koo, Women’s Outdoor News, Published January 6, 2015

I did not grow up playing with toy guns. I grew up playing with dolls. In fact, as a child, I never had any interest in guns. I was raised in a very traditional Chinese family that valued women as nurturers and caretakers. My mother groomed me to be good wife, a good mother and a good daughter-in-law.

I never would have guessed I would later become a competitor in the male-dominated sport of Action Pistol Shooting, let alone a national and world women’s champion.

I am living proof of Albert Einstein’s mantra, that those who attempt the absurd can achieve what seems impossible.

Even well into adulthood, shooting seemed like an unlikely path for me. During the 1980s, my husband Carlos and I liked to go camping. My husband owned a couple small guns for protection. We figured they would be nice to have if we were ever approached by a bear. Little did we know my husband’s guns would not have been powerful enough to take down a bear.

My husband showed me how to load and unload the guns, but I could never remember how to perform the tasks he showed me, because I never handled the guns. The guns scared me.

Eventually, I decided the guns weren’t inherently dangerous. My lack of knowledge made them dangerous, and I needed to educate myself.

The first time I fired a gun came during the 1980s when my husband took me trap shooting. We rented a shotgun for me to use. I had never held a shotgun before. The range master showed me how to load, aim and pull the trigger. When it was time to fire the weapon, the range master told me to go ahead. I stood there for a long time, afraid. Finally, I pulled the trigger.

The range master had me shoot with 4 others, in rotation. He watched closely as I shot. My performance surprised everyone, including myself. I hit 8 of 25 pigeons. More importantly, I got my first taste of shooting.

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