Shooting for Sport

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It’s been a year of winning for Rachel Martin. The 18-year-old air-rifle competitor has traveled the world and brought home medals, plaques and even a glass goblet.

Martin is the youngest of three girls, all of whom vied in air-rifle competitions under the watchful eye of their father and coach, Joel Martin.

Submitted photo: RACHEL MARTIN, of Peralta, lines up her shot in the 3-position smallbore final at the 23rd Meeting of the Shooting Hopes air-rifle match held earlier this year in the Czech Republic. Martin earned a gold medal in the event.

And now that competition is paying off in scholarships to her college of choice, the University of Nebraska.

“I’ve been doing this for 10 years. I never thought it could pay for college,” Martin said.

At first, like her sisters, Kaitlyn and Sarah, Martin began shooting because her father wanted her to compete.

“I almost quit when I was 13. He moved me over into precision shooting and I started taking it a bit more seriously,” she said. “I’m very glad he did that.”

Some of the events Martin has recently competed in were the 23rd Meeting of the Shooting Hopes match in the Czech Republic, the Junior Olympics and the American Legion match.

In the Czech Republic, Martin brought home a team silver medal in the women’s smallbore prone event and an individual gold in the 3-position smallbore. It was in Europe that Martin received a large, glass goblet as a trophy.

“It was different. I wasn’t sure what to think when they brought out all these huge glasses,” she said.

When she traveled to the Olympic Training Facility in Colorado Springs, she took second place, earning her a spot on the National Junior Team.

The American Legion match brought out a deep field of competitors. Starting with 1,500, the field is narrowed to 30, then 15 and finally the top three.

When asked how she fared there, Martin seems mildly surprised at the inquiry.

“Oh, I got first,” she said, laughing.

But the big prize from that match was the $2,500 scholarship she received, to be used at the college of her choice.

And colleges have been taking notice of the home-school student. This past year, Martin was recruited by the likes of Texas Christian University, Ole’ Miss and Montana State University.

Ultimately, she decided to attend the University of Nebraska in Lincoln.

Martin received academic and athletic scholarships to the university, and will join the school’s air rifle team. She will travel around the country to compete with the team.

Julia M. Dendinger-News-Bulletin photo: HOLDING “FABIO,” the air rifle that earned her scholarships for college, Peralta resident Rachel Martin, 18, has headed off to the University of Nebraska to pursue a degree in fashion design. Martin earned a place on the university’s competitive shooting team and a scholarship, thanks to her shooting skills.

After comparing schools, Martin said she chose Nebraska because the school “felt right.” She plans to major in fashion design and minor in athletic coaching.

“I’ve always liked designing things,” she said. “I was always picking out outfits for my sisters when I was younger.” Martin said she even helps her dad out on fashion choices from time to time.

One of the first courses she will take when she starts classes will lay out all the possible career paths a fashion design major can follow.

Looking at her competition rifle, one sees immediately where the worlds of fashion and shooting intersect. The rifle’s magazine is wrapped in leopard-print duct tape and emblazoned with glittery silver letters that spell out the gun’s name — Fabio.

Being a competitor for most of her life has helped her develop patience, Martin said.

“When I am missing, it can be very frustrating. And I’ve had a lot of failures. You handle it in the moment and go on to be a good sportsman,” she said.

Air rifle is a competitive sport but it doesn’t cross the line into vicious, Martin says.

“If you are at a meet and someone is missing a piece of equipment, someone will lend it to them,” she said. “We’re a very tight-knit community. It’s competitive, but it’s not over the top.”


-- Email the author at jdendinger@news-bulletin.com.