Last year, the American Shooting Journal featured a young lady named Moriah Katherine Combs in our July issue, introducing her as one of the new ambassadors of the shooting sports. Moriah is a charter member of Youth Shooters of America, former National 4-H Shooting Sports teen ambassador and competitor in rifle, shotgun and pistol classes. We asked her to contribute her own story in her own words. –The editor
THE 4-H CLUB IS A YOUTH-development program that teaches leadership, interviewing skills and responsibility. I spent eight years shooting with 4-H Shooting Sports, and it has taught me how to properly hold a gun, understand gun safety and responsibility, how to handle a misfire and how to clean a rifle and shotgun, among so much more. I took six years of rifle courses, which was mostly just shooting at bull’s-eyes on paper targets or eggs, golf balls on a wire, bowling pins and playing cards. I held the title of grand champion during all six years. Over the past two years, I started competing in clay shooting and am enjoying mastering my shotgun. We always shoot straight and occasionally play back-up.
I recently started shooting in Scholastic Pistol Program challenges, and I took first place, becoming an Ohio state champion in the senior rimfire division with my team. I have also started to enjoy trap shooting, and this spring I plan on shooting in multiple competitions.
Between 2014 and 2015, I had the privilege of being the National 4-H Shooting Sports Teen Ambassador, and traveled around the US. I was invited to attend the 2015 SHOT Show in Las Vegas and presented thank-you plaques to the companies that sponsored the Ohio Shooting Education Camp, and was honored to represent the 3,000 youth members of the 4-H shooting sports in Ohio. I went to Nashville, Tenn., for a photo shoot with Youth Shooters of America, attended the 4-H Shooting Sports National Championship in Grand Island, Neb., and I got to give out ribbons at the Ohio State Fair for Natural Resources Day.
I’VE MET A LOT of people who are an inspiration to me, folks such as Jarrad Markel, Tom Johnston, Staci Moore, Ryan Bronson, Bob Hodgkins, Troy Landry, Frank Steed, Bob Ladwick, Phil Hanes, Tina Howser and Larry Harris. All of these men and women have taught me so much, including how to run shows, teach others, network and collaborate. These people are a huge part of my life, and have helped me mature into the young lady I am today.
Many of these experiences have helped me grow. I am no longer afraid to talk in front of crowds with hundreds of people, and I now take a leadership roles in activities. I’ve gained so much thanks to shooting sports and have developed a special love for it all.
ALONG WITH MY shooting activities, involvement in 4-H and traveling, I own two businesses: photography and cake decorating. I am in a show choir, attend church and am currently a high school senior graduating this May at the age of 17.
That is my story! I love sharing with people and hope to inspire others. ASJ
Editor’s note: If you would like to know more about Moriah Combs, you can follow her Facebook page here!
Her first rifle was an S&W MP15-22, initially fired off the bench and later unsupported. Alexis is small for an 8-year-old, so gun weight has been a concern. Constant physical exercise and good technique have allowed her to run adult-size firearms effectively. After she attended several rimfire matches, Tandemkross, a New Hampshire company specializing in parts for customizing competition guns, sponsored her. In the summer of 2015, I was introduced to the Welch family, who live in Owensboro, Ky., which is along the Ohio River across from Indiana, and have been following Alexis’ progress ever since.
This girl’s main talent goes beyond pure shooting ability: she’s enthusiastic, effective and friendly. Articulate and unaffected, Alexis can work with adults, as well as play with kids. Picking up where Tryce started, firearm coaches Gary Welborn and Bob Sanders volunteered their time to train her, and during her first public shoot, Dani Bryan, a female firearms instructor and competitive shooter, took the time to coach her too. Alexis is very popular with teen marksmen as well, many of them treating her as an honorary little sister, and helping her learn more about the sport. She’s recently gained the affectionate nickname “Monkey,” and ran with it.
After Tandemkross, she was discovered by many sponsors to include Volquartsen Custom, Leupold Optics, Striplin Custom, Owensboro Rifle and Pistol Club, Sound Gear, Beck Defense, Gemtech, Weapon Shield and, unofficially, Trijicon. Besides institutional sponsors, Alexis has also been supported by the Bragg family, Richard and Carol Stokes and over 1,750 other fans who hail from as far away as Brazil and Russia. A custom rifle maker, Fighting Sheepdog, just joined in with a truly unique, pint-sized AR-15 that has a hydraulic-recoil compensator and other personalized features to make it just right for this diminutive shooter. Tryce supplies the chauffeuring and the ammunition.
My first photo shoot with Alexis was a pleasant surprise. There aren’t too many adults, much less preteen kids, who can keep focused and enthusiastic about work for over 10 hours with only a few short breaks. Alexis could, and she did it with good cheer. Her images proved to be marketing gold, equally for promoting shooting sports, the right to bear arms and her increasingly numerous sponsors. Her eagerness to surmount every available challenge energizes her fans and supporters.
Starting with Steel Challenge in May, Alexis has participated in NSSF Rimfire Challenge, USPSA and multi-gun competitions. She’s had a good start on her future titles by winning the Indiana State Steel Challenge Champion Ladies 12 and under open category. Most recently, she was a guest at an event organized by Hunter “Nubbs” Cayll, known for shooting competitively even though he does not have hands, and shot her first event with a full-sized AR-15. Just prior to that, she helped in the production of a video for a veteran fundraiser, competently running M249 and M60 machine guns, as well as firing a 7.62mm SVD sniper rifle that intimidated some of the adult participants. She’s a member of Ozark Mountain Lead Slingers youth group, USPSA Juniors and a noncompeting member of 4-H Shooting Sports. Not limiting her interests to gunfire, Alexis plays soccer and softball, sings, plays music and practices gymnastics. Proving wrong many who perceive kids who shoot as hillbillies, she’s also a straight-A student. She’s already giving back by helping her 5-year-old brother learn gun safety and marksmanship, and often helps instruct adult novices as well.
Alexis’ plan for the future is to excel in shooting sports, get a college education and serve in the military. She will probably do well with it, given a history of challenges such as being born deaf and having to do speech therapy after successive surgeries. She’s already an effective ambassador for gun rights and shooting sports. To expand on the saying that the mind is the weapon and everything else is just a tool, I would estimate that the personality and mind of Alexis Welch will play a large role in the next generation’s work to retain our firearms freedoms. ASJ
Editor’s Note: You can follow Alexis on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/alexisnicolefanclub.
The American Shooting Journal was proud to have Alexis Welch on the cover of our February 2016 issue.
Posted in Shooters Tagged with: 4-H Sports, Alexis Nicole, Alexis Welch, Beck Defense, Blackhawk Axxiom Stock, Bob Sanders, Carol Stokes, CMore Sight, Dani Bryan, Fighting Sheepdog, Gary Welborn, Gemtech, Hunter "Nubbs" Cayll, Leupold Optics, M249, M60, NSSF Rimfire Challenge, Oleg Volk, Owensboro RIfle and Pistol Club, Ozark Mountain Lead Slingers Youth Group, Richard Stokes, S&W MP15-22, Sound Gear, Striplin Custom, Tandemkross, Trijicon, Tryce Welch, USPSA, Volquartsen, Weapon Shield, Youth Shooter