Roughly 25 years ago a ball started rolling, eventually landing at the doorsteps of the NRA. That ball was tossed by my grandmother, better known as “Oma.” Influential with her infinite wisdom and pinpoint accuracy, she not only taught me how to shoot but filled my mind of life before the internet, stories of the war and my personal favorites: stories of hunting boar, hirsch (stag), rabbits in France, and Roe deer in the black forest. To a growing boy in the 80s these all sounded like folklore from a different planet.
Looking back, it all makes sense now as to why my Oma taught me how to shoot. I will never forget sitting on her deck with airgun in hand and squeezing off my first shots. With Oma standing near and her heavy German accent similar to Henry Kissinger's, I distinctly remember, “slow and easy.” At the time, little did I know, a small village in Germany stands a sportsman’s clubhouse and glass case containing my Oma’s shooting trophies. From that day on I knew I was going to fill not only her shoes but ones who backed those family stories and put the memories on the wall.
A few days ago I had a VIP visitor here at headquarters-Oma. At 85 she continues to amaze me. I gave her a tour of my office, which has an elk on the wall, shelves filled with optics, work and cleaning benches. The list goes on, but the look on Oma’s face was priceless and I don’t know if I was more proud to have her here or she of me being here. All I can say is if it weren’t for her and shooting, I wouldn’t be where I am today with the coolest job at NRA.
How did you get started shooting, and what were your first and favorite memories behind the trigger? For me, it took me down a road of competitive shooting, hunting for food, and a way of life which I couldn’t be more thankful for.