By Vera Koo, Women’s Outdoor News, Published October 16, 2014
Once in a while, when I am practicing shooting at the Green Valley Rifle & Pistol Club near Columbia, Mo., I still get the question. Someone who does not know me will ask if I’m any good at shooting.
What they do not know is I’m a veteran shooter of 25 years. To them, I’m a woman, I’m Chinese, I’m petite and I’m approaching 70 years old. To them, I seem like a most unlikely pistol champion.
My family moved from mainland China to Hong Kong when I was about 3-years old. The way I understand it, we were aboard one of the last boats to leave China before it became a Communist country in 1949. Seeking better educational opportunities for his children, my father moved the family from Hong Kong to the United States when I was 11.
My mother never strayed from her traditional Chinese values. She taught me to be a wife and a mother who served her family and her in-laws. She taught me that I should stay home and cook and clean for my husband and take care of our children and my in-laws. For a hobby, my mother suggested knitting. An aunt suggested I take up embroidery. A friend suggested I consider doing flower arrangements.
Yet, I enjoyed hobbies that took me outside the home for a while. Sports offered that opportunity. First, I had to ace my life at home. I made sure to take care of all the household duties my mother and our culture would indicate I should handle. After I did that, I could spend time on my sport.
My husband, Carlos, prepared me for competitive shooting by coaching me in windsurfing, equestrian, downhill skiing, backpacking and camping. Throughout the years, I spent a lot of time practicing to hone my skills at those activities. They taught me the value of gaining physical strength and stamina, which I now utilize in shooting. Carlos has offered me unyielding support throughout my competitive shooting career.
My mother and I share a very important quality. It took my daughter pointing this out for me to recognize it. My daughter once told me that on the outside, my mother and I might look fragile and helpless, but on the inside, we are tough cookies. We can take a lot of adversity in life and come out stronger on the other side.