Imagine going from precision rifle shooting, which Karen Monez describes as “a perfect shot at 50 feet requires hitting a target the size of the period at the end of this sentence,” to Cowboy Action Shooting, which moves a lot faster at shorter distances—and winning at both.
Karen Monez has done just that—held titles in precision rifle shooting and Cowboy Action Shooting. She has won three world championship titles in Single Action Shooting and set 97 world and national records in rifle shooting. She certainly deserves her spot in the Who is Who of Women Shooters of the 20th Century.
A native of the Golden State, Karen started shooting at 14 years old, when her brother, who was a member of the junior rifle club at a California Optimist Club, introduced her to shooting.
“I just tagged along one day,” she said, adding that it took awhile for the sport to catch on, but,when it did, “it began a passion.” She started shooting with an Anschutz .22 standard rifle. In fact, she said, an Anschutz is still her favorite rifle to shoot for smallbore. She soon became the top female shooter in her area and joined the U.S. Army Reserve, competing on the USAR shooting team for 22 years. She was also a member of the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit at Fort Benning for three years. In 1979, she won gold in women’s air rifle at the world championship in Seoul, Korea. Then, in 1998, she slowed down from competing in Olympic-style shooting and started Cowboy Action Shooting, in which she shoots a .38-caliber Ruger Vaquero, .357 Uberti 1873 lever-action rifle and Stoeger double-barrel shotgun.
Karen and her husband raise quarter horses and beef cattle. “I have been fortunate to have a practice range set up on ranch property that has allowed me to train countless hours with the ‘cowboy’ guns (as well as countless hours in my reloading room),” she said. But now, Karen devotes most of her time to coaching the TCU women’s rifle team.
Karen has really brought the TCU (Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas) women’s rifle team up to speed. Three years into her coaching career, Karen brought the team to a tie for fifth in the nation. Karen said she focuses her practice sessions on “building skills that translate into improved performance and focusing on performance rather than scores. Improved performance will make for better scores.” The team practices each week, with 3 to 5 sessions and a competition or practice on Saturdays. And her practice philosophy works. During the 2008-2009 season, the TCU rifle team beat Nebraska, Mississippi, Nevada and the Air Force Falcons. In February, the team won first place at the Aloha Invitational. Then, in March, the team hosted the NCAA rifle championships, taking fifth place. At the 2008 NCAA championships, the TCU rifle team finished third in the nation. Way to go, TCU! TCU will host the championships again in 2010.
I asked Karen what we can do as a shooting community to encourage more girls and women to take up the sport.
“”Provide opportunities for women and girls to learn about and shoot firearms. There are many organizations and clubs that are providing such opportunities with ‘women only’ shooting clinics. I believe that many women and girls with a negative impression or attitude toward firearms have never had an opportunity to handle and shoot guns. Providing them with the opportunity to ‘pull the trigger’ in a safe and fun environment will go a long ways toward changing their attitude toward guns and the shooting sports. It takes a great work ethic and a great attitude to achieve success in any shooting discipline. With success in shooting, women can gain confidence that will spread into other areas of their lives,” she said.
I have to agree with her, and the winning TCU rifle team is a true testament. Good luck, Karen, in the 2009-2010 season, and we hope this year you can bring home that national championship title.
Have you seen Karen shooting or watched her TCU team compete? Are you a competitor, and if so, in what? Tell us your experiences and motivations in the comment section.