She’s only 13 years old, but she’s one of the fastest shooters on the circuit. I first ran into “Millisecond Molly” at the annual Gun Blogger Rendezvous in Reno Nevada where we had a small Steel Challenge match. To say this young woman is fast would be an understatement: she blew us all away! When she finished shooting the first stage, “Smoke and Hope” I’m pretty sure every competitor there was speechless. We just couldn’t believe how fast she was! Molly Smith may be the youngest shooter on Team Smith & Wesson, but she’s no slouch. She easily holds her own in Ladies class competition against the likes of Julie Golob, Kay Miculek, and Annette Aysen.
After seeing her performance on the range, I had the chance to get to know Molly a little better and asked her if she’d let us do an interview with her to get some insights into competitive shooting from the perspective of a Junior shooter. Despite her busy schedule filled with school and competitions, she found the time to sit down with us and answer a few questions.
Cheaper Than Dirt: I know you’ve got a busy schedule, but I wanted to thank you for taking the time to answer some questions for us.
Molly: Yes, I have been out of school for two weeks and have already shot two major matches in that time, the Bianchi Cup and the IRC. Both were great! It promises to be a fun and exciting summer.
How did you get into shooting?
When I was a lot younger, I always wanted to play air soft guns with my brother and his friends; there were no girls on my street to play with so I worked really hard to keep up with the boys. About 2 years ago, I went the SLOSA range with my dad and brother. Honestly, I didn’t even want to be there, but I tagged along. We went to the rifle range, and there I met a really nice man who became my friend, Jeff. He was the RO at the time, and as a greeting, he teased me, saying that I would not be able to shoot. So I took his challenge and he let me borrow a rifle and I shot, and shot, and shot some more. I was hooked. I met other people at the range who wanted to teach me how to shoot better and I learned. Even now, I try hard to listen to what people want to teach me about shooting. Not everything works but I’m always interested in learning ways to improve my skill. Besides, I hear the funniest shooting stories!
What do your non-shooting friends think about you shooting competitively?
My non-shooting friends actually like that I shoot competitively. Many of their parents have asked me to show them how to shoot. My friends and even my principal and teachers are interested in my competitions; sometimes they come and watch me. I have been blessed to have so much support with this sport. I can honestly say that no one has ever been negative towards me about shooting competitively, and that is a really good thing. I think that any negative thoughts stopped in their mind when they realize that I am a young girl who’s doing what she loves.
Photo by Dave Wilson
Is there any one person in particular who you look up to as a shooter? Who are your shooting heroes?
Julie Golob is a role model for all women in this sport. She is always a lady. I like that. She always has a smile and a kind word for and about everyone. I met Vera Koo about a year ago and she is amazing; I think that she is a hero for all women shooters too. Hard to believe that as beautiful as she is, she’s a grandmother! 20 plus years ago, she started shooting. Her children were grown and she decided that she would like to learn how to shoot. Her perseverance in a sport that was, back then, not a typical sport for women, was incredible and she became a champion! Everyone admires her. She is so focused and exact when she shoots. And then there is Annette Aysen. I have known her nearly from the very first time I ever shot. She didn’t know me but I watched her shoot the 1st year she won the IRC, and I was so impressed, she seemed to float through the stages, she is an amazing shooter with a limited revolver (hmmmmm…guess what I shoot? A limited revolver!) And then there is Yamil Sued. He is a shooter and his also a photographer! He takes awesome pictures, he is not afraid to get dirty or sore muscles, (I’ve seen him in some pretty strange positions). He shoots really, really well and he has fun. I think, he has more fun than any shooter I have ever met. He just suggested this past weekend that I learn the “hand jive” dance from Grease… I guess my “happy dance” was getting old. Well, his enjoyment of the sport, the people and his art makes me happy every time I see him. That is a role model for sure.
What’s the best thing about shooting for Smith & Wesson?
Hmmmmm, lots of things, did you know if you turn the Smith & Wesson emblem upside down you have my initials? Ahhhh… serendipity! I like the history of S&W, they have been around since 1852, back then Mr. “Horace” (great name) Smith and Mr. Wesson started a company producing a lever action pistols they called their company the Volcanic Repeating Arms Company (another great name), a few years later they became Smith & Wesson. I personally feel great pride when I wear their shirt because of their long history, their superior product and their extremely generous support for all types of shooting events. Also, all the people from Smith & Wesson that I’ve met so far have been extremely nice and generous to me! It really makes me feel like I’ve been adopted by the Team S&W Family!
Is there a Steel Challenge stage that you really enjoy? What about one that you dislike, or that is particularly difficult?
“Outer Limits” is my favorite and most disliked stage of all. I am not very big and it takes me a lot of steps that are coordinated to get to the other box. My rhythm needs some work. Jim O’Young taught me how to do the “Moon walk” in his front yard no less and hoping I would get some rhythm. It helped, I have steadily seen my scores on “Outer Limits” get better and better.
As a young woman shooter, do you ever get hassled by the boys? (and what does it feel like to beat them all?!)
I don’t get hassled by the boys, all the boys that I have met have been really nice. I get hassled by the adults (in a good way) they laugh when I beat them, but it is all good hearted. The worst is when the adults think I’m a boy. With my big hat on and the glasses you really can’t see my face. I have been called “son” a few times!!! I don’t like that. But more than being mistaken for a boy, the boys and men treat me like their little sister! Even the few who do mistake me for a boy are still incredibly nice! I love it!
What’s your take on the shooting industry incorporating a lot of pink into their products to market towards women? Would you own a pink gun?
Yes! And I do own a pink gun…I have an incredible Tactical Solutions Big Pink X-ring! I think by making products in more appealing colors it will draw interest in the sport. Women and kids can see themselves holding the colorful “sporting implements” and realize it is not an all “Gun Metal Grey”-boring sport. Colorful guns for colorful people.
Besides shooting, what are your other hobbies?
I like to read, write stories, run cross country, and spend time with my friends…regular kid stuff.
In the future, where do you see yourself going in terms of a career and how do you see your involvement in the shooting sports affecting this?
Right now, I have such wonderful opportunities to meet people from all over, all types of professions and people that don’t shoot but are involved with the shooting industry and those that shoot too. I think it’s interesting to see such a variety in the shooter’s career choices. Did you know that my dentist frequently RO’s the matches I participate in? That was pretty weird at first. I know I want to go to college and have given my future a great deal of thought. Something in the shooting industry, maybe a journalist or a reporter. The medical field also seems pretty interesting, considering that I’m the “daughter of a nurse”. I would love to be able to talk to people and educate them about what they are seeing and feel that my enthusiasm for the sport would reflect the sport well. I think that would be a nice career!
How do you think we as a shooting community can encourage other young women (and men) to become involved in the shooting sports?
With any sport there is always the opportunity to convert those who have never had an interest in it prior. This is very true for shooting. I live in California, (where gun-fear seems to be really big) but I have always been around guns. I was not taught to be afraid of them, many people (men and women) are simply afraid of them. They are afraid to hold them, to pull the trigger. Wouldn’t it be fun to have a “Welcome To Shooting” class start out by giving them simple gun parts and have them build a gun? I know my mom would tell you that matches should cater more to the children. A cool break room with cookies and milk, nutritious snacks is what she would say. And that’s really important! We need the “soccer moms” in the shooting community, because if you think about it, with any sport with kids, there’s always the support of their parents behind the scenes.
You’re very inspiring to young women everywhere – if you could tell them one thing, what would it be?
I would stress that this sport is safe. It’s really safe! Holding a gun can be very intimidating at first, if you learn from the start about gun safety the fear goes away, and then you can be confident. Learn to safely handle a firearm, that’s the most important thing, then you can have fun!
This is what I do a lot of times when women and children come and watch me shoot. It seems that they always say how hard it would be to hold a gun because their hands are so small…that is an old excuse. I chuckle and hold my hand up to theirs, I have very tiny mitts! 3rd graders have bigger hands than mine and I do just fine holding my revolver. Once they see my hands they begin to make a connection that if I can do it, they can do it too!
Molly is a member of the Smith & Wesson shooting team. She lives in California with her parents who help her compete in major matches across the nation. Be sure to check out her blog, The Molly Minute, for more information, photos, and videos.
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