[su_heading size=”30″ margin=”0″]Tiny Packages Pack Firepower[/su_heading]
Why Industry Big Guns Have Faith In This Tiny Shooter
Story and photographs by Oleg Volk
Meet 8-year-old Shooting Phenom Alexis Welch
[su_dropcap style=”light” size=”7″]S[/su_dropcap]ome people are larger than life. They are rare. Even more rare are children whose accomplishments would make any adult proud. Alexis Welch of western Kentucky is one such kid. If a writer used Alexis as a book character, most of the readers would have accused them of being unrealistic – nobody is that multitalented, at least in the mundane world where most people live. And yet, Alexis is quite real and keeps getting more impressive by the day.lexis started shooting at age five. Her grandfather Tryce “PaPa” Welch had already raised one competitor, his daughter Stephanie who became a professional motorcycle racer. Her career was cut short by an injury after a very promising start. Unlike her mother, Alexis had little interest in riding dirt bikes, but a keen desire to shoot guns. The competitive aspects of marksmanship were a mystery to Tryce, so he educated himself and started training Alexis.
Having mentored his own daughter, Alexis’ mother, in dirt-bike motorcycle racing, Tryce Welch started over with Alexis and supported her passion for shooting sports.
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.
Alexis has attracted the attention of shooting competitor superstar Dani Bryan (right), who has worked with Alexis to prep for matches. In this training moment, Alexis is focusing in on the CMore sight topping her Volquartsen Scorpion .22 match pistol, which features a personalized and custom mount by Bill Striplin.
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.
Alexis makes a great student, according to her coaches, but she is always ready share what she has learned with others.
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 can handle full-sized firearms, but most of her arsenal is specially designed to be very lightweight, like this Volquartsen Ultralite .22 match rifle in Blackhawk Axxiom stock and with a CMore sight on a personalized custom mount by Bill Striplin.
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.
Alexis Welch, seen here aiming a 7.62x54R Tiger rifle customized to SVD configuration and topped with a 6x PSOP scope, is only 8 years old, yet she competes in numerous shooting competitions, is sponsored by known industry names, plays soccer and softball, sings and is a straight-A student.
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