A new collaboration between WAVE Magazine and student-led campus publications, including The Navigator and The Aquarian, WAVE+ features articles written by and about Jacksonville University students.
By D’Ayn Sayre, Editor in Chief of the AQUARIAN
Finally, I’ve made it to the most important moment of my shooting career. I’ve shot a 49 out of 50 in skeet and it’s time for me to battle for a spot on the national team. I approach station three, my double-barreled, mahogany stocked filigree action shotgun in my right hand, my left twitching with nerves.
I set my feet in the box, body facing the low house. Loading two Winchester double A shells into the barrels, I take the deepest breath I’ve ever taken in my life—shutting out the crowd, shutting out the competition, shutting out my conscious brain telling me not to screw this up. I close the action, swipe my eyes from the low house to the high house, identifying my break points and settling the barrel in that sweet spot in the now dusky sky, known to me as my hold point. I mount the stock into the pocket of my right shoulder, crush the comb into my cheek, and take another breath.
“You’ve got this. You have the skills. You have the confidence. You’ve got this.” With the barrel still set at my hold point, I settle my eyes in a soft haze towards the window of the high house.
Stillness. Eyes open. No breath.
The recoil of the shots discharging from the barrels doesn’t even register. I swing to the right, acquire the first target, watch it explode. I swing back to the left, identify the second target, watch it explode. This occurs in seconds, but it feels like minutes—the same feelings register as my opponent prepares the same demonstration for the spectators.
The crowd is silent as he calls, “Pull!” The first target powders, and my heartbeat picks up. As he moves to the second target in perfect sync, my stomach flipping must have altered his timing. BBs discharge, yet the orange disc floats to the ground, intact.
I won. I’m going to nationals. I’m going to travel with the top four shooters in the state to represent Florida at the 2016 4-H national shooting match this summer.
The crowd erupts. Teammates high-five me. Coaches pat my back. Parents hug me.
In truth, it’s all one big blur until I’m embracing my crying mother and a faceless form passes us and calls to me, “Not too bad, for a girl.”
It was a sobering moment in my victory hysteria. “Excuse me? What do you mean, not too bad, for a girl?”
“Not too bad, for a girl.”
This isn’t the first time I’ve dealt with something so demeaning in shooting sports.
“This gun case looks too heavy for you, let me take it.”
“Ma’am, it’s going to be 18 dollars extra for the women’s cut uniform.”
“Darlin’, go take a breather, you’re just having a rough day. That’s no excuse for you though, Jimmy, get your ass in the box.”
“Wow, feisty girl, come shoot with us when you’re off your period.”
“So, you’re shooting for a college next year, but did they recruit you or did you have to ask them to let you on?”
“You’re pretty and you shoot guns? Can you cook too?”
“So, I know all you boys can be in the advanced group, but can anyone tell me what she shoots like?”
“Oh, don’t worry about that missed target Sweetheart, you’re doing better than the rest of the girls here.”
“Hey, can I show you some tricks? My Dad’s taken me hunting a few times and if you just did this instead…”
After years of this, I’m “used to” males discounting my hard work, my blood, my sweat, my time, my focus, my ethics, my skills, my drive to win. But, the fact that I have become one of four to qualify for the national shooting match and am still disrespected for being a girl?
I have some words for those who don’t find my achievements speaking for themselves: my sex does not affect my shooting ability.
Surprisingly enough, I do, in fact, know how to load more than the washer and dryer. It’s damned time my talents are realized.
Jacksonville University’s Aquarian Literary Arts Magazine is a student-run publication designed to showcase the extraordinary work of JU students. The Aquarian accepts all forms of art, including poetry, fiction, non-fiction, drawing, painting, ceramics, photography, sculpture, and so much more. To submit student work, please visit the general submission portal.