By GREG WEBB
While the phrase “straight shooter” is most often a term of endearment relating to the particular character of a person, there are a couple of Parker County residents who are also straight shooters in the literal sense — and are about to be rewarded for their efforts with an adventure to Colorado.
Mindy Miles (16-years old) and Sydney Casey (13-years old), both received invites to compete at the National Junior Olympic Championships, hosted by USA Shooting. The event is set for April 8-12, and will be held at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs.
As members of the Parker County 4-H Rifle Team, the girls participated in the state-level Junior Olympic Trials in January. Sanctioned by USA Shooting and held at Texas Christian University, more than 60 junior competitors took aim, aspiring to advance to the national competition.
Both girls achieved the goal of, not only garnering an invitation, but won their respective age groups in the rifle shooting competition for small bore and air rifle. Miles also shot well enough, with the top score in both categories, to win the overall competition, and claim the title of state champion.
Casey, finishing a mere four points behind her teammate in the air rifle competition, placed second overall at the state level in the category.
“I do other sports and decided to try shooting,” Sydney said, when asked about how she got started. “My brother had already been shooting before I got involved.
“I went out several times, kept practicing and was getting better at it, and just really enjoyed it.”
Sydney feels like she had some natural talent for shooting, while acknowledging that there was a lot of work involved to get to the level she has reached.
Having reached national competition for the Junior Olympics, which can provide a segue to the USA Olympic squad, she has her long-term eyes set on Rio de Janeiro, site of the 2016 Summer Games.
Casey also enjoys volleyball, and competes virtually year-round in select leagues and also plays beach volleyball during the summer.
Miles, who has been shooting for about three years, fell in love with the sport right away, enjoying the particular rush of doing well.
“My dad took me to 4-H and thought I would like it,” Mindy said. “He used to compete when he was in college.
“Once I got a gun, I got hooked and wanted to shoot more 10’s. It was just a lot of fun, so I stayed with it.”
Though she has had other sports interest in previous years, to focus on her shooting, Mindy opted to forego basketball, this year. Already thinking of future plans, she would like to take the sport to the next step.
“I plan to go to college and be on a rifle team,” Mindy said. “There are only a couple [of universities] in Texas who have teams, TCU and UT-El Paso, but there are several others around the country, and I am working toward getting a scholarship.”
But first on the agenda, for both girls, is to ‘aim small, miss small’ or rather, not miss at all, at the Junior Olympics. Prompting notice now, and in future competitions could well put the plane on course for a straight shot to Rio.