We’re taking a different approach to our interviews of the Women of USPSA from the nationals. In the past we’ve sent questions to those who placed in the Top 8 of each division.  This year, we’re asking for all the women who competed at the nationals to complete a survey online to share their experiences.

Ready to get started?
Here are the links:

Open/Limited-10/Revolver Questions

Limited/Production Questions

Multi-Gun Questions

We’ll be closing the surveys by November 20th so please complete your answers by then. We look forward to hearing from you!

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Congratulations to Randi Rogers on Back-to-Back women’s titles at the S&W USPSA Nationals.  Randi won both the Limited-10 and Production Divisions at the 2010 USPSA Handgun Nationals, and she was the only person to take a back-to-back title this year!

Unfortunately Randi did not respond to our interview requests, but we have a video featuring Randi from the match that we would like to share.

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WoUSPSA: Julie – congratulations on your silver-medal finish at the Production Nationals! What did you think of the stages at this year’s Limited / Production Nationals and did you have a favorite?

Julie: I thought this year’s nationals was much better than last year. It was very challenging and you had to be on the top of your game for every single stage.

As for a favorite, it had to be Stage 5, Aces All Around – Part Deuce. The RO staff on that stage was having a GREAT time and it showed in how they presented and ran the course. It was also a stage that was straight forward but still tested a number of skills, like how fast you could set up into a position. There were a number of areas where you had to switch gears between easy open targets and tough shots. Added to all that was the opportunity to shoot on the move if you were feeling adventurous. Excellent design, awesome crew!

WoUSPSA: The walk-through was definitely entertaining!  : ) What do you think of the range/match location and the back-to-back format?

Julie: I think Vegas makes a lot of sense for a nationals location. There are many things to do during down time, good food options and it is a city that is easily accessible to most. It’s a logical choice. That said, I can say I wasn’t exactly thrilled about the fact that there were so many ricochets. I was on edge about it every time I stepped on the range.

WoUSPSA: You had a crazy schedule prior to the USPSA Nationals! Upon returning from the IDPA Nationals late September, you left for Australia to shoot the WAPC and returned from downunder on the 10th. Do you have any misgivings about attending all three major events, essentially back-to-back, and how many hours did Oct/10/2010 actually last for you : )

Julie: It was beyond crazy. What was I thinking??? I do think it’s pretty cool that my 10/10/10 was something like 38 hours. Not many can say they traveled back in time like that, especially on that day! ; ) Earlier in the year when I made my schedule, I even considered flying straight to Vegas from Australia to shoot through the L-10 match on the last 2 days. I am SO glad I didn’t even attempt that!

I knew it was going to be tough but really, they were all CAN’T MISS events for me. I wanted the chance to win back the ladies title at the IDPA Nationals. I just couldn’t pass up the chance to represent Team USA and see Australia. To miss out on the USPSA Nationals wasn’t an option either. I wish I had more time to prepare for all three, but I was able to learn so much from the whirlwind experience.

WoUSPSA: Well, we’re very proud of your trio of performances!  Though you shot the M&P at two of the three previously-mentioned events, the courses of fire, approach and methodology of the three matches are completely different. How do you change gears and adapt to radically different disciplines so quickly?

Julie: I have competed in so many different events this year, so it is critical that I stay organized. I keep my gear and ammo set up so I can literally grab and go. I also try to find common ground between all the divisions. For example, I like to set up my holster and magazines as close to the same place as possible for all my rigs. It just makes the transition easier. When it comes to the shooting part, the common factors of sight alignment and trigger control are about the same. The differences lie in acceptable sight pictures, speed and specific skills for the sport/division that are sometimes wildly different. For each competition, I have to remind myself to trust my shooting ability and make sure I plan to tackle those sport specific skills for every single stage.

WoUSPSA: When did you start training for the Nationals, and how much was range time compared to dry firing?

Julie: I started training for the USPSA Nationals right after Steel Challenge in August. At the time I had planned to shoot revolver so I spent many hours dry firing. With the ammunition situation still unsettled, other than 250 or so rounds, my training was focused solely on dry fire. The beauty of revolver is that because of the double action I could actually run through courses of fire pulling the trigger for every shot and working my reloads even without ammo. Because you can do so much without actually shooting, revolver a great division for those on a budget.

WoUSPSA: Your well-organized system undoubtedly works great for you!  When you arrived in Vegas, you had a big decision to make: Shoot Revolver Division in an attempt to acquire a National Title in the last of six divisions, which is something no other competitive shooter has attained; or shoot Production, with which you’re much more familiar, confident and established. What were the ultimate deciding factors?

Julie: I REALLY wanted to shoot revolver this year. I put a lot of time into dry firing and speeding up my reload. To win the 6th Division Title would have been incredible, but also a huge challenge. Annette Aysen hasn’t lost a USPSA revolver ladies title since she returned to the circuit years ago. Talk about an undefeated streak! I have so much respect for her. With the revolver though, it was one struggle after another to get a load to both function and shoot well between juggling all the different matches this season.

I literally packed both sets of gear, revolvers and my S&W M&P, when I left for the match. On registration day I was at the zero range with a chrono testing yet more ammo that my awesome buddy Seiichi Ishikawa loaded for me. It was just 20 feet per second under major. So for me, shooting barely minor in a match with very little A-zone exposure, didn’t make sense. I knew Annette would shoot strong to post a win for Team Smith & Wesson. Winning Production would be a long shot considering my preparation compared to my competition, but I decided to try for a Top 3 finish.

WoUSPSA: And top 3, you did – nice job!  How would you describe your performance at the Production Nationals? It must have been a long week, knowing your daughter was not feeling well. : (

Julie: My mind was definitely in a different place at times. With my little one sick with a serious fever at home, I was literally packed and ready to go at any moment. My husband, Simon, was amazing with her though and insisted I stay and try to do my best. So with that and muddling through the jet lag, I had some really bad stages. BAD – like the kind that no one wants to make eye contact with you after you shoot them. LOL.

Shooting so poorly did put me in a great position to test myself though. I had nothing to lose. I took some risks that REALLY backfired, but I posted some great stages too. I pushed myself in ways that I never have before and learned a lot.

WoUSPSA: Sorry about that no-eye-contact thing … : )  You hadn’t shot a USPSA event since the Single Stack Nationals in early May. You certainly couldn’t tell by watching you shoot. Although you had one stage that was particularly uncharacteristic of you (as previously mentioned), you came back and shot the rest of the match like a goddess! How do you put a setback like that out of your mind and motor on?

Julie: Which one? LOL! I think there were a couple in there, but Stage 1 was one of the worst. Uncharacteristic is kind. Folks, if you ever have the misfortune of watching it on video, it looked much worse than it probably was. At least, that’s what I tell myself. ; ) I knew I was behind in the standings and I took a chance on that stage.  Not only did I just shoot it poorly, the plan probably was gutsy. On that stage there was a chance that if you opened a door before you shot a small plate at a lean you could save HUGE time. It was a really TOUGH shot though. I guess shooters from the first match discovered it wasn’t worth the risk, but since I wasn’t there for that I’ll blame my performance officially on the jet lag. ; ) In all seriousness, if I had connected it would have been brilliant, but for that to have happened stars would have had to align. You gamble in Vegas, right?

As far as tackling the set back, I have had lots of these in my career. It’s not the first and probably not the last. The only thing you can do in that situation is attack what’s next and keep the fire burning.

WoUSPSA: Great advice!  In other sports, top contenders compete together. Do you feel that USPSA should require that established shooters and national champions shoot together or do you feel that competitors should always have the option to choose? What are the pros and cons of shooting with the ladies?

Julie: I can see both sides of the argument. We all pay the same entry fee so we should be afforded the same opportunity to shoot with who we wish. At the same time though, this is a national championship. Our World Shoot Team is in part decided from this event. A national title and a chance to represent the United States is at stake and that should be taken very seriously. If we ever want our sport to grow and become established like every other major sport, the contenders need to compete together for coverage and the same conditions for fairness. At the very least, these competitors need to shoot in squads that are next to each other and at the same time of day. I know I love the fact that I have the opportunity to compete with some of the best women shooters in the world. If I place, I work to make sure I put myself in a position so that media can cover it. It only helps increase exposure for the people and companies that support me. Without amazing support from my sponsors, especially Smith & Wesson I wouldn’t be able to compete at a national and world level.

WoUSPSA: Why do you think the participation is low for women in some of the iron-sight divisions and what can we do to change that?

Julie: I think one of the reasons Open is so appealing is that it is viewed as a simple division to jump into. Starting a new shooter in Open can be easier because you can say, “when that red dot is where you want it, squeeze the trigger.” There are also FEWER reloads that allow new competitors to just shoot. Now, don’t get me wrong! To perform at the top of the game in Open there’s SO MUCH more to it, but for someone starting out or the occasional shooter that just likes to go to their local match, it can make a lot of sense.

Looking at the stats, there were 24 women in the Open Division at this year’s nationals. Combine all the iron sight divisions there were 29 women! I think the issue is that we are all spread out and so collectively the presence is strong. I think we’ve already made a huge step with Women of USPSA in building up the other divisions. Having a resource for female shooters and celebrating their success across all the divisions is a great start.

WoUSPSA: Here, here! Was this your last major match of the year or do you have more competitions on your schedule?

Julie: It was my last “serious” match. I have one more planned in December, but with snow already falling in Montana this year, hunting season and many other projects, I don’t expect to get a lot of training time in.

WoUSPSA: With the match season rather lengthy, how do you typically unwind when the year is done?

Julie: I never seem to stop going so I am always doing something that’s shooting sport related, but I feel this time of year I can breathe a little bit.  I do have some big projects to tackle but the competition side of things can take a rest.  What I love most about this time of year is hunting and actually having the time to cook. I’ll dig out all my food magazines and start roasting coffee beans. This is my favorite time of year and I think it’s important to reflect on everything and everyone to be thankful for. I am very fortunate to have a long list!

WoUSPSA: With game in the freezer and beans in the roaster, sounds like it will be a great off-season!   Now, what are your long-term competitive shooting goals?

Julie: My shooting “bucket list” includes a number of things. I would like to win a title at the World Shoot. I REALLY want to shoot a 1920 in Bianchi. Making a US Olympic team in Sport Pistol would be so awesome. I want to shoot some Multi-Gun matches and definitely more shotgun. I LOVE shooting Sporting Clays with my Benelli! Oh… And there’s that 6th Division title. That’d be really nice.

WoUSPSA: That’s an awesome bucket list – we wish you the best with your goals!  : ) Do you have any special talents or skills that you would like to share with us?

Julie: Hmmm… I used to sing and was actually pretty decent at it in high school. My husband is a fan of my many cooking experiments or at least he is smart enough to say so. ; ) Oh, and oddly enough I so enjoy editing video and its what I refer to as my creative outlet.

WoUSPSA: Definitely a smart man, although your meals look pretty appetizing on your FB page!  When you aren’t on the road or at the range, what’s one of your favorite activities to do when home?

Julie: I so look forward to the time I spend with my husband and daughter. I really love being a mom so all the things that involve that are my favorites.

WoUSPSA: What advice would you give to any new shooters starting out?

Julie: My advice would be to learn the rules of whatever shooting sport you plan to try. Make sure before you shoot your first match you are completely familiar with your firearm and how to shoot and handle it safely in competition. Next, spend a lot of time dryfiring the skills that you know you may encounter on the range, like in USPSA the draw and reloading are good skills to work on.  Remember dry fire means NO AMMO around! After that try to learn as much as you can by watching your fellow competitors. Most of all though, have fun!

WoUSPSA: Rules – very good point … and to stay energized, what is your snack and beverage of choice on the range?

Julie: I drink water. Lots and lots of it! I am also a huge fan of 100% juice/vegetable drinks, bananas and fruit/nut bars. I eat and drink constantly throughout a match to keep my energy level up.

WoUSPSA: Do you lift weights or do grip strengthening exercises to specifically build your muscles used in shooting? What other kinds of physical training do you do?

Julie: I CrossFit (www.crossfit.com) which incorporates so many things that help me perform well in competition from weight training to cardio based work outs to some that incorporate both. I also do yoga and run as well. Working out helps me feel fit and energized when competing.

WoUSPSA: As a competitor that’s shot USPSA for more than 15+ years and someone who is actively involved in the promotion of the shooting sports, what direction would you like to see the future USPSA take?

Julie: Next year it will be 20 years of competing, and on top of that I have been involved with USPSA working as an RO several years before that. I think it’s wonderful how USPSA has grown especially in the past few years. With the internet and shows on cable TV we have so much more access to shooting than ever before. I’d love to see our sport continue to prosper and become even more organized.

I’d love to see USPSA incorporate a historical archive on the website – a virtual museum if you will. Our sport is young, but at the same time we need to make sure we capture the stories, stats, champions, evolution of guns, and divisions – the roots of USPSA!  An accessible history helps establish us as a serious organization.

There are also so many things we can learn from even mainstream sporting competitions that I would love to see applied to our organization. The more we can offer, the easier it is to spread the word and get people interested in joining us on the range.

WoUSPSA: So many great thoughts!  And lastly, how did you and Simon celebrate your awesome finish at the USPSA Production Nationals?

Julie: We didn’t really have a chance to with our daughter being sick. It was just great to be home after such an intense travel schedule. That was a celebration in itself.

WoUSPSA: … there’s no place like home.  Julie – thanks so much for taking a moment to anwer our questions.  Congratulations again on your 2nd Place Production finish!

Now, let’s watch Julie blaze through a few stages at the Production Nationals.

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WoUSPSA: Congratulations on earning medals at both S&W USPSA Back to Back Nationals, Tori! What did you think of the stages at this year’s L-10 and Production Nationals? Did you have a favorite?

Tori: I thought the stage designs were really solid. They were a fun test of marksmanship, movement and gun handling.

WoUSPSA: What are your thoughts on the back-to-back format?

Tori: The back-to-back format ran smoothly. Alternating AM and PM I thought worked well also. It allowed people to get out and see Vegas at night without having to get up early each day.

WoUSPSA: We agree, definitely a nice schedule. What do you think of the range/match location?

Tori: The Desert Sportsman’s Rifle and Pistol Club was a fantastic facility. We also lucked out with great weather conditions for both matches. Being in Las Vegas was also really neat, especially for it being my first time at age 15. It doubled as a vacation for me.

WoUSPSA: Sounds like you had fun – that’s great!  This summer, you posted some outstanding finishes.  Do you find it more of a challenge to compete during the school year? As a sophomore in high school, how do you juggle the demands of both school and major matches?

Tori: I would say competing during the school year is just another added responsibility. I am proud to say I hold a 3.8 GPA right now, due to being very diligent in preparing my work for trips and completing assignments in a timely manner. I miss a lot of school which requires extra work to keep up my level of understanding of what I miss in the class room. This means extra hours after school some days to stay on track. When I was preparing for the USPSA Nationals I would go to school, work out, then head to the range or dry fire and come home to complete home work. I am grateful to have the support of my parents, teachers, and principals who have been very accommodating.

WoUSPSA: It’s wonderful that you’re so committed to both your studies and shooting!  So, when did you start training for the Nationals, and how much was range time compared to dry firing?

Tori: For Limited-10, I had less than 1,000 rounds though my gun and only a week or so of dry-fire. My gear simply wasn’t ready until then. But for Production, I train continually all year. Dry fire at home and trips to the range for both dry fire and live fire are frequent and my training is split about 60/40 between dry fire and live fire. Recently, I have started to use the new S.I.R.T. training pistol in dry fire and I have noticed improvement in several areas. Finally, I have been working out in my school gym to increase my strength to reduce felt recoil and help me drive the gun better.

WoUSPSA: Your training schedule is obviously working well for you!  You had an issue with your ammunition arriving late for the L-10 match. Do you feel it had any affect on your match?

Tori: Yes, UPS lost my ammo along with others as well. Thankfully, Dave Sevigny and Cody Tucker gave me enough ammo to get me through the first day. So I was able to start the match with everyone else. A second shipment of ammo arrived on the second day, thanks to Billy Abbate and Danny Wisner of Atlanta Arms & Ammo. It was stressful trying to get it tracked down but I didn’t let it affect my match performance in any way.

WoUSPSA: Good for you, Tori!  This was your first Back-to-Back National Championships. Was it a challenge to maintain focus throughout the week and did you learn anything about yourself as a competitor at the match?

Tori: Maintaining my focus during the eight days of both matches was not difficult. I love this sport and there is nothing else I would rather do. I am really starting to learn the mental aspects of the game. Competing in this level of match with such great shooters taught me a lot. Having this experience has bettered my shooting and given me a huge boost in confidence. I look to apply this in my future matches.

WoUSPSA: There weren’t many differences between the course of fire designs for both matches. Do you feel that shooting L-10 was helpful for your Production match?

Tori: Shooting the Limited-10 match first was definitely beneficial and provided a smooth transition for the Production match. The only big difference in the matches were some of the target placements and distances.

WoUSPSA: In other sports, top contenders compete together. Do you feel that USPSA should require that established shooters and national champions shoot together or do you feel that competitors should always have the option to choose? What are the pros and cons of shooting with the ladies?

Tori: I think competitors should always have the choice. If they took away the freedom to squad with your friends, then part of the reason we shoot would also be taken away. That being said, there are advantages to shooting with the top competitors. It enables me to get a feel for their pace in a match. Then I can make small adjustments to my own pace and balance of speed and accuracy in a given array. I also tend to keep a sharper mental focus during a match when I squad with top shooters. However I would still prefer the option to squad by my own preference. Choice it GOOD!

WoUSPSA: Do you lift weights or do grip strengthening exercises to specifically build your muscles used in shooting? What other kinds of physical training do you do?

Tori: I feel it is important to build my strength and body mass for shooting. I have become more and more dedicated to working out. I do everything from running long distance, short sprints, weight lifting, ab work outs, and circuits. Also, my friend and fitness expert (as well as GM shooter) Mike Hughes, has recently put together a nutrition and fitness program for me. Being somewhat petite, I have to do all I can to overcome recoil and muzzle flip. I am excited because I know this new program will accelerate both the process and results.

WoUSPSA: Best of luck with your new fitness program!  To stay energized, what is your snack and beverage of choice on the range?

Tori: I love pistachios, bananas and Smart water!!

WoUSPSA: Very healthy choices … Why do you think the participation is low for women in some of the divisions and what can we do to change that?

Tori: The main reason for a lack of female participation is because most girls are raised to believe shooting and hunting are men’s sports. It is very intimidating for most women to even hold or shoot a gun. There are many different ways to go about getting more women involved in the shooting sports. But the most effective way would be for fathers to teach their daughters how to safely handle firearms and then encourage them to give competitions a try. The same goes for husbands. They should invite their wives to give shooting a try. There are enough shooting disciplines for anyone to find their niche!

WoUSPSA: Well stated.  Was this your last major match of the year or do you have more competitions on your schedule?

Tori: The USPSA Nationals were my last major matches of 2010. But even with winter coming, I will continue to train hard and keep the rust off by shooting some GSSF & IDPA indoor club matches to get ready for next year!

WoUSPSA: With the match season rather lengthy, how do you typically unwind after your last match of the year?

Tori: I come from a big family and enjoy being home to spend time with them. We are big fans of mixed martial arts and fighting sports in general. We often spend time watching fights. Ron and Meghan Francisco are also avid fight fans and come to our home to join us some times. I also enjoy cooking and baking, listening to music and hunting.

WoUSPSA: Sounds like big fun!  What are your long-term competitive shooting goals?

Tori: My goals in competitive shooting include winning world and national titles in every division of USPSA, IDPA, Steel Challenge, Bianchi and 3-gun. To accomplish this will take many years. I must keep a driven and focused mind set and train hard. Through this, I hope to do my part to shed another positive light on competitive shooting, gun ownership and the second amendment in general.

WoUSPSA: That’s awesome, Tori!  Do you have any special talents or skills that you would like to share with us?

Tori: I use a secret family recipe to make a fantastic grilled cheese!! I have also begun to study Judo.

WoUSPSA: When you aren’t on the road or at the range, what’s some of your favorite activities to do at home?

Tori: When I am not traveling or shooting, I still surround my self with shooters and gun related activities. I like to visit my local gun stores and hang out at Hatfield’s Gunsmithing to learn as much as I can. Some weekends I work at gun shows in the Washington DC area. I like keeping up with all the new products and enjoy talking with customers and helping them choose firearms that fit both their needs and wants.

WoUSPSA: What advice would you give to any new shooters, especially juniors starting out?

Tori: First, find someone knowledgeable to teach you how to safely handle and use firearms. If possible, attend a class at a shooting academy. There are many located throughout the country and the classes are so much fun! Try and familiarize yourself with different types of firearms and common calibers. There are so many types of recreational shooting sports. Everyone can find one or more that suits them. USPSA.com, IDPA.com and NSSF.org are good places for information. And junior shooters, be sure and check out www.juniorshootercamp.org for information about the annual juniors clinic!! Above all, be safe, go shoot, and invite your friends and family to join you!

WoUSPSA: Good advice for sure!  How did you and your family celebrate your awesome finishes at the USPSA Handgun Nationals?

Tori: My family greeted my father and I at the airport. Even after being spoiled with Las Vegas meals for a week, my family took me out to my favorite Mexican restaurant, El Charo to celebrate! It was great having everyone together again. Thank you Dad, Mom, Danielle, Brenna, Shawn, and Brendan for being so supportive!!!

WoUSPSA: And thank you, Tori, for interviewing with us.  Congratulations on your double-medal wins at the 2010 USPSA Nationals!

Check out junior competitor, Tori Nonaka, as she successfully executes a few stages at this year’s Handgun Nationals:

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Congratulations to Kay Miculek on her 4th Place finish in the Production Division. Unfortunately Kay did not respond to our interview requests but here’s a video of Kay from the match.

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WoUSPSA: Congratulations on your TOP 5 finish at the S&W USPSA Production National Championships, Kippi!  Before we talk about your Production Match, we were wondering why you were unable to shoot the L10 Match?

Kippi: Well, thanks!  Yes, I was signed up for the L10 Nationals, but a last-minute sitter situation prevented me from coming with Rob to the first match.  I was actually still juggling babysitters from Vegas on Thursday.  Our poor daughter just gets bounced all around when we go out of town.  Hopefully she doesn’t mind too much!  All in all, it worked out nicely, as I got to spend some unplanned quality time with her.

WoUSPSA: That’s always a bonus! So, what did you think of the stages at this year’s Nationals?  Did you have a favorite?

Kippi: The stages were very challenging, and a bit on the hard side, but I prefer it that way for a Nationals!  Hats off to the Nationals design team, range crew, range officers, stats personnel, administrative crew, chronographers and Desert Sportsmans R&P Club!

I liked Stage 4, Drinks on the House II, because it had a couple of swingers and a Max Trap target that you activated from a different position.  I enjoy the kind of stages that invigorate me …  shooting the Max Trap while moving into that last position was a rush!  This stage reminded me of something we might see at a World Shoot – and I felt really at home on the barstool with a mug in my hand!  : )

WoUSPSA: Happy hour at the range, speaking of which, what do you think of the range/match location?

Kippi: OK – not going to sugar coat this … I like Vegas as the location for many reasons:  Close to home, decent weather, availability of hotels, restaurants, activities, but I don’t feel the range is so safe.  Too many ricochets, rocks and bullet frags in the air … : (

WoUSPSA: How would you describe your performance? Were you happy with your match?

Kippi: I shot pretty accurately (although the mini poppers were my nemesis) and had few penalties, but I was extremely slowwwwwwww!  Don’t know if I was just trying to see too much due to the large number of difficult target presentations, or if it actually just takes my older-ish eyes that much longer to focus on hard shots?  During post-match discussions, Rob suggested that I pick up the pace and accept a few misses – and I’m thinking he’s right.  Gosh, that’s really hard to admit … : )

WoUSPSA: But might be worth a try, huh?  Now, how early did you start training for the Nationals, and how much range time did you put in compared to dry firing?

Kippi: Dry fire??  I unfortunately don’t make time for that anymore, and most of my draws and reloads probably reflect that choice.  I began practicing when Patience went back to school in the middle of August.  That gave me about two months to prepare.  I try to practice at least twice a week and also shoot the matches on weekends.

WoUSPSA: Sounds like a manageable schedule. To stay energized, what is your snack and beverage of choice at a match?

Kippi: I drink water and water with Emergen-C constantly.  I also try to chew on a Cliff Bar or eat a banana every other stage or so.  It’s a must to keep my energy up.  Bananas are the perfect range food – except for the fact that they get squishy, turn black, start leaking and smell to high heck if you leave them in your range bag for an extended period of time …  not that I’ve ever done that.

WoUSPSA: Yes, nearly the perfect range food! Did you learn anything about yourself as a competitor?

Kippi: I’ve been suffering from major self-induced nerves these last few years, and feel that I finally managed to tame them at the Nationals in Vegas.  I always want to be a little anxious, nervous, adrenalized, choose your adjective, but not to the point that it effects my performance negatively.  So, I was extremely pleased that I learned to control my emotions during the entire match!

WoUSPSA: Good for you! As a Top 8 contender, do you feel you should always have the choice to shoot with whomever you like?   What are the pros and cons of shooting with another squad vs. the Ladies?

Kippi: At a National Competition, I absolutely think the “contenders” should be squadded together.  If you’ve proven yourself and have the ability to place in the top numbers of your division and category, you should be with others who are also trying to win, place, show or finish Top 8/16!

More often than not, our performances are based not only on skill, but weather conditions, lighting, pressure, nerves, cameras, crowds, knowing that your closest competitor just shot an amazing run … It all plays into the equation, and it’s a BIG part of our game.  Trust me, it’s not the same match when you’re not squadded with your close competitors, and when matches are won and lost by a few points and often fractions of points, it makes a difference!  Eva – I love you, completely respect your opposing opinion, and hope we can continue to agree to disagree on this one!  : )

If contending competitors are spread out all over the range, it’s also extremely difficult for the video crews, photographers and reporters to properly cover the match.  Due to the nature of our scoring system, our scores can only be compared  if we’ve all shot the same stages, so it’s nearly impossible to tell who’s in the lead.

Please understand where I’m coming from – I’m old school.  Historically, I’ve never known or considered squadding an option, but rather a reward.  My first Nationals was in 1988, and I arrived in Barry, IL to try to earn a slot from the S&W Ladies Match.  I fortunately won my slot and went on to finish 8th overall at the Nationals.  When I showed up the next year, I was in the ladies squad!  I couldn’t have been any happier, while simultaneously sick to my stomach.  : )  It was considered an honor to shoot with the Ladies or in the Super Squad.  It was where  a driven competitor wanted to be – in the limelight.

Now, squad scatter happens all the time at Area Matches, lower-level competitions, and unfortunately at the SS Nationals.  Although, I don’t think it’s the best for the sport, I think that it’s a good way to compromise.  If someone wants to shoot with a friend, husband or just meet new people, Area matches are the perfect place for that, however, when National Titles are on the line, we should handle the squadding more professionally, based on proven performance.

And every now and then, the Top-8 / Top-16 squadding system is fooled when a shooting-star comes along and breaks into the winner’s circle as a somewhat “unknown”.  The extremely talented Valerie Levanza-Rosales and our (Arizona’s) amazingly skilled Nils Jonasson come to mind.   At their first Nationals, they each shot outside of the top squads because they had not yet proven themselves on that level – and WON!  What an astonishing accomplishment!  Wanna make any bets on where our young, up-and-coming shooting god Nils will be squadded next year though?  Congratulations again, Nils, on your 2010 Limited National Championship Title – Arizona is so proud of you!

Want to finish this topic by acknowledging and thanking Paul Erhardt for tabulating the daily leaders at the Nationals with his posts on USPSA’s blog.  That was very exciting to see!  Back in the 90s, we had Marilyn Barnhart who kept the men’s scores current up to the minute, and down to the hundredth of a point.  She was awesome!   What do you think about a Leader Board, Paul?  : )

Are you sorry you asked now, and is my time up yet ?  : )

WoUSPSA: No, no, and we’re almost done!  Was this your last major match of the year or do you still have more competitions on your schedule?

Kippi: I shot the USPSA Area-2 / Desert Classic after Nationals and am now officially done!

WoUSPSA: With the match season rather lengthy, how do you typically unwind after all the matches have settled down?

Kippi: I enjoy golfing, spending time with friends & family and getting my house / life back in order.  During the match season, it’s amazing how quickly chaos can ensue.

WoUSPSA: What are your long-term competitive shooting goals?

Kippi: To try to remember the time when I was able to finish in the Top 3!  : )

WoUSPSA: If you weren’t a competitive shooter, what do you think you would be doing?

Kippi: Dancing has always been my passion and first love.  I live vicariously now through a few of the reality shows.  I’m truly amazed by the capability of the human body and the artistic creativity of today’s dancers and choreographers.  Luv, luv, luv “So You Think You Can Dance”!

WoUSPSA: Do you have any special talents or skills that you would like to share with us?

Kippi: I occasionally hit great golf shots!   Still can’t get under 100, though.  : (

WoUSPSA: When you aren’t on the road or at the range, what’s one of your favorite activities to do when at home?

Kippi: Attending our daughter’s soccer and sporting events, cooking for family & friends, and wrestling with my little girl, who is now taller, stronger, and sassier than I.

WoUSPSA: What advice would you give to any new shooters starting out?

Kippi: Have fun, form new friendships, set realistic goals, surround yourself with good shooters, and practice if you really want to improve – No, matches are not practice!  : )

WoUSPSA: Congrats again on your Top 5 finish, Kippi!  Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions.

Check out this video of Kippi shooting a few stages at the 2010 S&W USPSA Production Nationals.

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Congratulations to Carrie Jamrogowicz on her 6th Place finish in the Production Division. Unfortunately Carrie did not respond to our interview requests, but here are some photos taken by Paul Erhardt at the match.

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WoUSPSA: Cindy, congratulations on your TOP 8 finish at the S&W USPSA Production National Championships!  As a match director yourself, what did you think of the stages at this year’s Nationals and did you have a favorite?

Cindy: I really enjoyed the stages, although a few less no-shoots would have been fine with me! I think they were a good test of everyone’s ability. My favorite was ‘Aces All Around II’.

WoUSPSA: That was a fun stage! What do you think of the range/match location?

Cindy: The range has plenty of room and I do like Las Vegas as a location.

WoUSPSA: Certainly lots to do in Vegas. How would you describe your performance? Were you happy with your match?

Cindy: My performance could have been much better. There were several stages that I wish I could have done over, Straight Swingers in particular, where I had an ICE (Immediate Cranial Evacuation) where, after the timer goes off, your brains drain out into your earmuffs.  I almost forgot a target at the end of that one!

WoUSPSA: ICE – haven’t heard that term before, although most of us are familiar with the concept! :)
Did you learn anything about yourself as a competitor at the match?

Cindy: I still have the ability to concentrate when I am shooting and I still enjoy the game.

WoUSPSA: That’s great, Cindy … You are very active within the Georgia Section and Area 6. With such high participation at your local club level, do you think it helps you prepare for matches like the Nationals?

Cindy: Absolutely, we have so many clubs in Georgia that put on quality Nationals-level matches that it helps to prepare for those competitions.

WoUSPSA: How fortunate for the shooters!  As a Top 8 contender, do you feel you should always have the choice to shoot with whomever you like? In the past, you have frequently shot with the Ladies Squad. What are the pros and cons of shooting with them?

Cindy: I can’t really think of a con, but there are a lot of pros such as the ladies always seem to help each other. You also get to see different ways of running the course, and you can decide which way is best for your strengths. I also enjoy the camaraderie of the group.

WoUSPSA: Was this your last major match of the year or do you still have more competitions on your schedule?

Cindy: Right now the only remaining match for me will be the Area 6 Multi-Gun in a couple of weeks. I am not sure if I will shoot it because I am also the Match Director and I will probably be busy with my duties there.

WoUSPSA: It’s certainly difficult to do both … when the A6 Multi-Gun is over, what will you do to unwind?

Cindy: I enjoy time with friends and family. I have a grandson and another one on the way, so the holidays should be a lot of fun.

WoUSPSA: Congratulations – grandchildren make the holidays all the more special!  What are your long-term competitive shooting goals?

Cindy: I want to continue as long as I am competitive.  Even after I am not competitive, I want to continue to shoot because I enjoy the group of people that are in the sport.

WoUSPSA: If you weren’t a competitive shooter, what do you think you would be doing?

Cindy: This year was my first year working the Nationals. I worked the Multi-Gun and I worked the Open/L10. I really enjoyed doing that and I think I will continue to help with matches, nationally and locally.

WoUSPSA: That’s great to hear! What kind of reactions have you had when you tell people that your hobby is competitive shooting?

Cindy: Amazement mostly, and some respect. I have not really had any negative reaction. People sometimes seek me out for advice on firearms, and gun related issues.

WoUSPSA: You’re an extremely busy lady with Glock Sport Shooting Foundation, your Match Director duties, and your position with theWOMA.com. How do you find the time to juggle it all?

Cindy: I have a very understanding husband and my children are grown, leaving me the time to concentrate on it all. And I keep an eye on my calendar. I have gotten the travel thing down pretty well and I make lots of lists so that I don’t forget things!

WoUSPSA: Lists are great for organizing. Can you tell us a bit about the Women’s Outdoor Media Association and how being involved with WOMA has enhanced your life?

Cindy: Our mission statement sums it up: “The Womens Outdoor Media Association focuses on increasing media coverage of women who are active in the traditional outdoor sports, expecially shooting, hunting, fishing, and archery.” When we started the group, there was very little being done specifically for media coverage of women. Being involved with the WOMA has given me the ability to work with a dynamic group of ladies (and men) throughout the industry. It has given me the opportunity to begin to do a little writing and story telling. I have gone to Media Day at the SHOT Show for the past few years and written an article or two about new products I have seen. I will be doing that again in 2011. We have just received ‘Non-profit’ status and we will have a booth at the SHOT Show for the first time! Along those same lines, Women of USPSA has made great progress and I want to thank you too!

WoUSPSA: That’s very nice to say, Cindy – thank you for your contributions also.  Congratulations again on your Top 8 finish in Production!  We look forward to seeing you in 2011 on the range and at SHOT!

Editor’s note:  Cindy did not shoot the Area-6 Multi-Gun Championship, but did successfully follow through with her Match Director tasks!  Congrats on another match well-run, Cindy!

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With the 2010 S&W USPSA Handgun Nationals officially a part of history, and many ladies with their sights on the 2011 IPSC World Shoot in Greece, we thought it would be fun and interesting to interview the Top Women from ALL Divisions at the Handgun Nationals.

Our interviews will begin with our 8th place women and work in ascending order until we get to our 2010 USPSA National Champions!  We’ve asked a few more questions this year, both of personal and professional nature, and have also incorporated some questions from our FaceBook friends.  Thanks so much for your input!

We also want to thank the women who responded to our interview questions, and we hope you, our readers, enjoy the great responses we’ve received from these top-notch competitors.

So, to begin our 2010 Handgun Nationals interview process, we would like to introduce you to Lisa Levis. Lisa competed in the Production Nationals for the very first time and finished 8th overall among the women.


WoUSPSA: Lisa, congratulations on your Top 8 finish at the S&W USPSA Production Nationals!  What did you think of the stages at this year’s Nationals?

Lisa: I thought the stages were very difficult. There were many precise shots and several instances where I had to stand on my tiptoes to see targets and stretch my body to reach around barricades.

WoUSPSA: Did you have a favorite stage?

Lisa: Yes, my favorite was Stage 3, Golden Bridge II because I thought the stage design was clever, challenging, and I enjoy shooting from many different shooting positions.

WoUSPSA: What do you think of the range / match location?

Lisa: The match location was ideal for me because it is within a reasonable driving distance from my home.

WoUSPSA: It’s always nice to be within driving distance to a major tournament.  How and why did you decide to shoot the make/model of gun in Production Division?

Lisa: I am less than 5 feet tall, so my hands are small and many guns are not suitable for my hands. In the past years I have shot an XD-9, a G34, and a CZ. The Smith and Wesson M&P with the small grip is a perfect fit for my hands. I can manipulate the M&P without struggling and it feels good to me.

WoUSPSA: Being able to find a gun that works well for your hand size is so critical to performing well.  How would you describe your performance?

Lisa: I gave every stage my best attempt, even though I may not have executed as well as I had planned.

WoUSPSA: That said, were you happy with your overall match?

Lisa: I was happy with the first two days of the match but was somewhat disappointed in how I performed on the last day.

WoUSPSA: Do you get nervous for major matches and if so what do you do to help calm your nerves?

Lisa: YES, I get extremely nervous every night before competing. I was exceptionally nervous because this was my first national level match. I breathe deep, focus on the stage at hand, and the nervousness disappears while I’m shooting.

WoUSPSA: Breathing is great advice for battling nerves.  How often do you compete locally and at major matches?

Lisa: I compete almost every weekend locally and competed in 3 major matches prior to the USPSA Nationals.

WoUSPSA: Do you think that shooting major matches helps you prepare for the USPSA Nationals?

Lisa: Yes. I believe the major matches require a certain frame of mind to alleviate nervousness - a skill obtained by competing in major matches.

WoUSPSA: Great point!  Did you learn anything about yourself as a competitor?

Lisa: Yes. I learned that I could perform very poorly on a stage and not let it affect me the rest of the match.

WoUSPSA: Which is probably why you finished so well in Production.  Nice job!  As a Top 8 contender, do you feel you should always have the choice to shoot with whomever you like?

Lisa: I have never been a Top 8 contender so I have always shot with my husband. To answer this question I believe you should be given the choice.

WoUSPSA: What are the pros and cons of shooting with another squad vs. the Ladies?

Lisa: The pros of shooting with another squad may entail a higher degree of comfort since people who know each other are more comfortable with each other. Shooting with the Ladies would be exciting because they are the best women shooters in the Nation. The opportunity to watch and learn from the top Ladies would be awesome.

WoUSPSA: Was this your last major match of the year or do you still have more competitions on your schedule?

Lisa: I was going to go to Area 2 but our daughter is visiting from college so I will not be competing. The nationals was my last major match of the year.

WoUSPSA: Well, we hope you enjoy your time with your daughter! With the match season rather lengthy, how do you typically unwind after all the matches have settled down?

Lisa: Get ready for the holidays; catch up on the things that were neglected during the match season.

WoUSPSA: What are your long-term competitive shooting goals?

Lisa: I’d like to strive to be a “B” shooter.

WoUSPSA: Looks like you are on your way!  If you weren’t a competitive shooter, what do you think you would be doing?

Lisa: I would be learning how to decorate cakes so I could design specialty cakes, taking art classes, taking piano lessons, and decorating the house.

WoUSPSA: Sounds lovely!  With very diverse interests, what kind of reactions have you had when you tell people that your hobby is competitive shooting?

Lisa: The reactions have been positive. Most people are shocked to learn I am a competitive shooter. They are curious and ask many questions.

WoUSPSA: Lisa, thanks so much for taking the time to chat with us.  Congrats on making the Top 8 for your first time, the first of many!

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5th Place – Carrie Jamrogowicz
Women’s Production Champion at Area 1, 2 & 3

2009 USPSA Production Nationals - 4th Place Carrie Jamrogowicz.  Photo courtesy of Paul HylandWoUSPSA – Congratulations on your Top 5 finish!  What was it like to compete for the first time on the Ladies Super Squad?

Carrie – It was a pretty neat experience. I am used to being the only female on my squad, if not in the whole match, so shooting with a whole group of talented lady shooters was a lot of fun.

WoUSPSA – What were your goals for this year’s Production Nationals and how do you feel you performed in the match?

Carrie – My main goal was to try to relax and have fun.  I know I shoot better when I can relax. It was my first time shooting on the ladies’ squad, and my first match wearing a sponsor logo, so I was expecting to be nervous and distracted, and I just wanted to keep that to a minimum.  I was happy with how I did on ten of the stages. I didn’t necessarily place well on ALL of those, but I can say that I did the best I can do at this stage in my shooting career. I had ammo troubles that resulted in a zero score on one stage, and the other five, I just wasn’t able to keep my head in the game. Overall, I placed where I’d expected to.

WoUSPSA – Can you give us a day by day account of your match?

Carrie – We started on stage 9, which was a shoot house, and I was glad for that because I was nervous enough already, at least this way I’d know no one but the RO could see me if I did something goofy. : )
I think we shot four stages that first day, and once I got the butterflies out of my system, I was able to settle in a bit.

The second day was kind of a bummer for me. The first stage of the day, stage 13, was actually my best stage of the match. Stage 14, though, I was the first shooter on the squad and I was super nervous, got a little mixed up and made some mistakes. I tried to let it go and focus on the next stage, but then I had an ammo problem and zeroed that stage.

Day three, we started on stage 1, where I hit a no-shoot and didn’t see it; stage 2, I hit a no-shoot, and did see it, but couldn’t decide whether to make it up or not…. this was where my teammate noticed a pattern to my mistakes and pointed it out to me. I was able to fix it, and didn’t hit any more no-shoots that day, or on day four!

WoUSPSA – Can you describe your best stage, and why you think you did well?

Carrie – My best stage was lucky number 13, where I placed 50th, with 70% of the stage winner’s score. It was actually the stage I was worried about the most, because there were targets you could see only from certain positions, and there were a lot of wide transitions to go with that, which is a good opportunity to completely miss a target if you’re not careful. I think I did well just because I spent so much time thinking about it, and really had my plan down pat.

WoUSPSA – What was your most difficult stage, and why it was difficult?

Carrie – The most difficult one for me was the one immediately following my best stage. I had to go first on stage 14…. I had a plan, but didn’t think it through enough, and it failed. I didn’t have an alternate plan, got flustered and tensed up and made mistakes.

WoUSPSA – What did you think of the stages?

Carrie – They were challenging for me, because instead of long shots (which I am pretty good at) there were lots and lots of no-shoots (which make me nervous). The props were fairly simple, compared to other big matches I’ve shot, but I think they did well enough with what they had to set up a variety of challenges for us.

WoUSPSA – Thanks so much for taking the time to answer our questions. Congratulations once again on your Top 5 Finish!

>4th Place – Dianna Liedorff
2nd Woman at the 2008 USPSA Production Nationals

2009 USPSA Production Nationals - 4th Place Dianna Liedorff.  Photo courtesy of Yamil Sued.WoUSPSA – Congratulations on making the Top 8! As a law enforcement officer, do you find that competing in matches like this one helps you hone your skills for work?

Dianna – Absolutely… I believe that a match can put similar stresses on you that you might experience in the real world. Training my mind to think through the stress has to be beneficial.  The amount of time I’m behind a gun improves my skill set and gives me the confidence to win the fight with my gun if need be.

WofUSPSA – What were your goals for this year’s Production Nationals and how do you feel you performed in the match?

Dianna – I really wanted to beat Randi!!! I had improved and actually prepared for this Nationals, so I was hopeful I could give her a run for her money… But she’s improved too!!!

WoUSPSA – Can you give us a day by day account of your match?

Dianna – I can, but it’s painful!  I started on the fast, “simple” stages and I bombed them.  I’m a field course girl, and I have no confidence in the shorter, faster stages.  By the fourth day, I had the field courses and I was a happy girl!!!

WoUSPSA – Please describe your best stage, and why you think you did well.

Dianna – One of the field courses… The one with the window that was activated with the foot pad.  I just feel more comfortable with the field courses and it was the 3rd or 4th day, so I had settled down a bit.

WoUSPSA – What was your most difficult stage, and why it was difficult?

Dianna – The speed courses ate my mental lunch.

WoUSPSA – What did you think of the stages?

Dianna – I thought the courses the year before were a bit more challenging.  This is my second nationals, so I don’t have a lot to compare to!

WoUSPSA – Thanks so much for taking the time to answer our questions. Congratulations once again on your Top 5 Finish!

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3rd Place – Randi Rogers
2008 USPSA Production Champion and IDPA Ladies National Champion

2009 USPSA Production Nationals - 3rd Place Randi Rogers. Photo courtesy of Paul HylandWoUSPSA – Congratulations on making the Top 8!  Going into this year’s Nationals, how did you prepare to defend your 2008 Ladies Production Title?

Randi – To prepare for this year’s nationals I practiced a lot. The 2009 shooting season was pretty busy for me. I would practice about 2-4 times a week and I shot as many local matches as I could. I would also dry fire on any day I didn’t practice and just tried to work on all the basics.

WoUSPSA – Competing in so many different shooting sports throughout the year, how do you think it affects you in USPSA?

Randi – I think that competing in many different sports is good for a shooter. Cross training keeps me excited about all the different sports. If I work on one thing too long I tend to get bored and don’t try as hard. Changing things up keeps me excited and it’s challenging, making me want to work that much harder.

WoUSPSA – What was your goal for the Production Nationals?

Randi – My goal for the Production Nationals was to to shoot my best. I had hoped that shooting my best would result in a win. At the 2009 nationals I didn’t feel like I shot my very best, and the results reflect that.

WoUSPSA – Who did you feel would give you your greatest competition?

Randi – My teammate Jessie Abbate is an incredible shooter and I feel that she is a great benchmark to compare to.

WoUSPSA – This is the one USPSA match that both you and your teammate Jessie competed against one another.  Do you find that there is more pressure to do well when shooting against one another, especially as the defending national champion?

Randi – I always feel pressure. It doesn’t matter who I shoot against or what match I am at. My goal ultimately is to do the best I can. It doesn’t matter if I am shooting against one person or one hundered, I still feel pressure. I just try to shoot what I can shoot, after that the chips fall where they fall.

WoUSPSA – How do you feel you performed in the match?

Randi – I don’t feel like I shot my very best at this years Production Nationals. I had a bit of bad luck, I let it get to me and I made some mistakes. Every time I think I have learned it all the range gods remind me that there is no mastering the sport.

WoUSPSA – Can you give us a day by day account of your match?

Randi – I arrived in Las Vegas on September 11th. I went to registration and went out to the range to look at the stages. For the most part I thought the stages looked good. Saturday September 12th was the first day of shooting. I shot early on Saturday. It was warm in Vegas, when we woke up it must have been 80 degrees. We started on stage 9 and shot through 12. The first stage was a little rough for me.  I had a mike on the bobbing target in the back. Stage 11 was also a little rough for me. A popper and I had a little disagreement. I had some drama associated with that and because I wasn’t focused on my shooting I had another mike on stage 12. After the first day things got better. I shot the rest of the match clean. Overall I thought the stages were really good. I had a good time and did my best.  It was a long four days but I learned a lot and took those lessons into the next match.

WoUSPSA – What was your best stage?

Randi – I had a couple of good stages at the Production Nationals. Stage 16 was my best overall score. I was 26th overall on that stage and everything went well for me. It wasn’t my very best stage but another stage I did well on was stage 7 with the star. I only had one pick up shot on the star and it just felt really smooth for me. It was also a kick to shoot!

WoUSPSA – What was your favorite stage and why?

Randi – My favorite stage was the star. It was challenging, exciting, and a little bit scary. I like a good challenge.

WoUSPSA – What did you think of the stages?

Randi – Overall I thought the stages were ok. I have shot three nationals and I think this year was third place in all those years. It might have been me but it seemed that all the stages were similar in nature. They all seemed to be mid range round count, there was never very much movement, and there was hardly any decisions. They were all very straight up which makes it pretty easy to shoot, but I personally enjoy the challenge. I was disappointed to not see standards or any hard cover. I think standards are important, especially one handed and I feel they should be included at a national match.

WoUSPSA – Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions! Any comments you would like to add?

Randi – I would just like to say that if you haven’t come to a nationals for whatever reason everyone should go. You don’t have to be top level shooter to enjoy the challenge and unique experience of shooting a national championship.

WoUSPSA – Congratulations once again on your Top 3 finish!


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