STORY BY EMILY ROBINSON * PHOTOGRAPHS BY RODNEY ROBINSONI have always been a pistol shooter. Even the first time I was out on the range, I loved everything about shooting, from the smell of the gunpowder to the sound the steel makes when it is hit by a bullet. I think that’s what got me hooked on competitive shooting. I was 9 years old when I attended and watched my first Glock Sport Shooting Foundation (GSSF) match in Columbia, S.C., and my whole family attended to see what it was all about.
The second match I attended was the GSSF annual shoot in Conyers, Ga., and although I did not shoot in that match, I was allowed to borrow a Glock with a .22 conversion and shoot the plate rack. Right after this event, my parents bought my brother and me a Glock 17 and I actually competed in my first match two months later. I loved how everyone was so friendly, supportive and helpful. Since I was so small, people gave me advice on how to hold the gun, my stance and other tips. Some of the people who helped me that day have become longtime friends and are now like a second family. After several years of shooting GSSF matches all over the Southeast, it was a natural progression to move to United States Practical Shooting Association (USPSA).
MY FIRST USPSA MATCH was the North Carolina Sectional in 2012. I had never even been to a USPSA match, nor had I ever practiced for anything like it. It was all new, and I was even a little intimidated. It was so much fun watching everyone on my squad shoot during their round, but when it was my time to shoot, I felt like a deer in the headlights. After I completed the first stage, I was a little surprised at how well I had done. I was really slow, but the accuracy was there and that was most important to me at that time. Just as I had been taught in GSSF, accuracy was first on the priority and speed would eventually come, and that’s exactly what happened. To date, I have won three state-level titles in USPSA.
After three and a half years of USPSA and even longer in GSSF, I got the itch to try 3-Gun. I had met so many people who shot 3-Gun that I really wanted to give it a try. Since I had not worked with shotguns or rifles very much, there was definitely a learning curve. When it was time to get started, I had to gather equipment and get it ready. For Christmas I received a Mossberg JM930, which can be used for 3-Gun right out of the box, so that was a great surprise. Then I had the amazing experience of attending the SHOT Show for the first time in 2016. I set up appointments with several potential sponsors, one of which was NightForce, which turned out to be huge for me. Coincidentally, my interviewer had been a range officer and fellow production shooter at the Georgia State USPSA Championship, so he had heard of me. He gave me a chance and supplied me with an awesome NightForce NXS 1-4×24 optic and mount even though I hadn’t yet shot a 3-Gun match.
Similar to my first USPSA match, I had never attended a 3-Gun match. The closest I had come to seeing one was on TV, and I was really excited but nervous. I had enough time to shoot about 100 rounds through my shotgun and get my rifle zeroed from the 100-yard line with my new NightForce optic. I was dead-on within 10 rounds. Awesome optic! I also shot a few rounds on the move to try to get comfortable. My Glock 34 would round out my 3-Gun trio. Items such as shotgun-shell carriers and rifle-magazine pouches were borrowed from friends, but I felt just about ready.
THE DAY HAD ARRIVED and it was time for my first 3-Gun match. I arrived at the range and everything was new. I’d never been to this facility, didn’t know very many people there and the stages looked longer and more complicated than pistol stages. My nervousness subsided as I watched a few people walk the stages. I realized that the stage prep is pretty much the same as in pistol matches. You have to understand the layout of the stage and the stage brief, then develop a plan that works for you. I talked to a few people about their stage plans, and once I broke the stages down between the three weapons, everything seemed to fall into place. I wasn’t worried about the pistol stages, and I knew I would just have to slow down a little on the rifle and shotgun.
I knew the rifle and shotgun were going to be obstacles due to my lack of trigger time. The match started off a little rocky. My shotgun magazine spring created a problem that stopped my rounds from feeding into the chamber. One of the match directors had an extra spring that I borrowed and fixed the problem – another example of how great people are in the shooting sports! By the second stage I started to feel more comfortable, and overall felt that I did pretty well.
The last stage was probably my best. It started with three pepper poppers that threw clays into the air. These are reactive steel targets that fall to the ground when you shoot them, and as soon as they hit the ground they throw a clay pigeon into the air as a secondary moving target. I’d never shot clays like that before, but I hit them all. I even had to do a pick-up shot on one of them and still got it in the air! The next string was a pistol stage, which I shot on the move to make up some time. After that, there were four long-range rifle targets at 55, 110, 160 and 210 yards. It was time to really test that rifle zero. I set up for the shots, took a long breath and exhaled and fired the first shot. Hit! The next two shots were both hits. My confidence was pretty high. I fired at the 210-yard target and missed. I remembered to adjust for distance using my optic and fired again. Hit! I was so proud of myself. I was pretty happy with how I did on that stage especially. There were several things I had never encountered but I worked through them. In the end, I had no misses and no penalties. My time wasn’t the greatest because I wanted to make sure I was safe and my hits were all good, but I was pretty happy with my results.
IF I COULD HAVE CHANGED anything about my first match, I would have paid more attention to other competitor’s stage plans and applied what I observed to my own. It was a lot different than I had expected, but overall I expected to make mistakes since this was my first 3-Gun. I got a little aggravated with myself over simple mistakes, but I will learn from them!
One of the similarities between 3-Gun, USPSA and GSSF are the people. These are some of the friendliest, supportive and helpful people you will find anywhere. The people on my squad offered help throughout the entire day, and I really appreciated that.
MY ADVICE for anyone looking into 3-Gun or any shooting sport is to be confident when you go out there. If you need help or equipment, just ask. Ninety-nine percent of the time someone will be there to help, whether you know them or not. Even if it’s your first match, match directors and range officers will walk you through it to get you started. One thing I’ve learned about the shooting world is that someone will always be there to lend a helping hand.
Everyone is new at some point and no one started out as a pro. All you have to do is apply hard work and dedication, and have fun. You can learn something from everyone on the range, whether it’s your first match or you’ve been doing it for 20 years. It’s all in the way you look at things. ASJ
The media is singularly transfixed on youth issues that present a very disappointing and negative impression of kids today. The truth is that well-raised and properly focused youth produce much less interesting TV, movies and articles, compared to dysfunctional families, parental relationships in crisis and troubled adolescents that have been presented as the new norm. However, since that is what America is usually exposed to, it is almost surprising to find terrific, moral and hard-working kids. What is even more surprising is how many of those outstanding youths are in the shooting sports. One of those well-nurtured young shooters is Emily Robinson, a daughter of Rodney and Belinda Robinson, who are both active-duty officers on the Cramerton, N.C., police department.
I asked Robinson how she started shooting competitively, and she said, “I was raised shooting .22 rifles, but the first competition I attended was a Glock Sport Shooting Foundation (GSSF) match in Columbia, S.C., in 2009. Both of my parents were competing; I only watched that day. Later that year, I shot in my first GSSF match and was completely hooked!” She continued, “My older brother also started competing, and together with my parents, helped teach me to grow in the sport. The following year, my parents gave me a Glock 34 for my birthday, and in 2012 I got into USPSA action shooting and really loved it.”
Robinson clearly enjoys competing, and we talked about what intrigues her. She said, “I shoot at several clubs (Robinson shoots two or three matches per month between USPSA and GSSF) and enjoy the personal challenge, but it also gives me the opportunity to shoot a variety of courses designed by different people, as well as shooting against other competitors. I have a lot of friends in this sport and enjoy going up against different shooters.” As a result of her commitment to the shooting sports, Robinson is a lifetime member of the USPSA, GSSF and the NRA. She is a Glock-certified advanced armorer and a certified range officer for the National Range Officers Institute.
“I try very hard to live and compete in a way that I can be a role model for other girls.”
Robinson’s favorite pistol is the one that she wins with, her Glock G34. “In competition, I use a G34 because it fits my hand perfectly and has a natural point of aim for me. I’ve had it for five years now and it’s been reliable, accurate and a very controllable pistol,” she said. When asked about other types of shooting Robinson noted, “I love to shoot a variety of other pistols, revolvers, rifles and shotguns and have been practicing with AR-15s and semi-auto shotguns. I want to get involved in 3-gun and am trying to decide what type of gear I will need. I use Atlanta Arms ammunition for pistol competitions and action shooting, as well as CR speed-mag holders along with a Blade-Tech holster.” Robinson also receives a lot of support. “I’ve been very fortunate to have so much help. Ed Turner and Don Anderson with Ed’s Public Safety in Stockbridge, Ga., believed in me and gave me a sponsorship. Danny Wisner at Atlanta Arms were very supportive too, and when Jason Koon took over, he continued to help.” Robinson also acknowledged, “I have to give a lot of credit to friends who shoot with me on a regular basis and share advice.”
Based on her steep learning curve I asked Robinson what she has gained during the last few years of shooting competitively. She said, “The number one thing is safety with firearms and that they aren’t toys. You have to be responsible and know that your actions have consequences. I have also learned that competitive shooting is more than just shooting well. Like any sport, it’s about good sportsmanship, honesty, concentration and physical fitness (Robinson spends almost two hours a day, four days a week in the gym). I know how to be serious and focus, but it’s still exciting and fun. I’ve made a lot of great friends and there are always new opportunities to learn from other competitors.” She continued on about her attitude towards the sport: “Competitive shooting is also about strategy. I love that part because there are so many ways to accomplish a course of fire. I recently had the opportunity to help with a female-only clinic last year, and it was great. I found that I really like to help others who are new to the sport. The response was so good they are doing another one this summer.” I mentioned that due to her ability and success, she is being watched by other girls who would like to shoot like her. Robinson said, “That is a big responsibility, so I try very hard to live and compete in a way that I can be a role model for other girls.”
Robinson continued to explain her love of the shooting sports: “I’ve been lucky enough to attend the US Army Marksmanship Unit’s Junior Action Shooting Clinic in 2013 and 2014, and learned so much. It was great to be able to shoot with some of the best juniors in the country. I would love to be a professional competitor, but first I want to earn a spot on the USAMU Action Shooting Team. I’d be able to serve my country (like her brother Justin who just enlisted in the US Army) and compete. It’s a huge goal and I will be working hard for it.” I asked where her ability to shoot successfully and at such a consistently high level came from and she said, “The success I have comes first from the support of my amazing family and friends.” Robinson continued to explain how her family has provided the foundation for her success: “My parents provided equipment, support, traveling, gave up weekends and challenged me. My older brother Justin even helped teach me to shoot.”
“My parents provided equipment, support, traveling, gave up weekends and challenged me.”
More than anything else, Robinson is a normal teenage girl who enjoys every aspect of growing up in the great community of Cramerton. She is homeschooled and works two part-time jobs, but unlike the kids highlighted by the media, Robinson is a bright, happy, well-raised teenager with a great attitude who has achieved a lot already due to her focus and discipline. Unfortunately, like most kids, her achievements are seldom televised or publicized, but that is OK with her. She would rather be at the range, at work or at home with her family learning more and strengthening an already brilliant future that is unrolling before her. ASJ
Posted in Shooters Tagged with: Andre Dall'au, Belinda Robinson, Columbia, Cramerton PD, Danny Wisner, Ed's Public safety, Emily Robinson, GLOCK, GSSF, Gunny, Jason Koon, NRA, R lee Ermey, Rodney Robinson, S.C., USPSA