We’re wrapping up our coverage of the Top Women from the 2010 S&W USPSA Handgun Nationals with an interview from our newly crowned Women’s Open National Champion, Rebecca T. Jones.  We’ve enjoyed the opinions, shooting knowledge and insightful ideas the ladies have shared with us and want to thank them once again for participating in our interview series.  And now, without further delay, let’s hear about Rebecca’s experience at this year’s Open Nationals.

WoUSPSA: Rebecca – Congratulations on your 2nd national title!  You must be so excited.  Tell us, what did you think of the stages at this year’s S&W USPSA Open Nationals?  Did you have a favorite?

Rebecca: I thought this year’s stages were some of the best of any Nationals that I’ve been to and was glad to see such a large percentage of partial targets.  More chances to shoot on the move would have been fun, but I really liked the focus on accuracy instead of everything being completely wide open.  A National Championship should be about all phases/aspects of shooting, not just how fast you can pull the trigger.  I really liked Stage 5, Aces All Around.

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

Rebecca: I think Vegas is a good place to hold the Nationals, although the ricochets on the range can be a bit unnerving.  The date change from last year made for much nicer weather conditions.

WoUSPSA: We’ve heard those same comments from many other ladies.  When did you start training for the Nationals, and how much was range time compared to dry firing?

Rebecca: In the month to two months prior to the Nationals, I spent as much time as possible on the range and attended every local match I could.  In the weeks prior, I made sure to dryfire on the days I could not get to the range.

WoUSPSA: Sounds like a great plan!  You had just one miss and a single D-zone hit.  AWESOME! How would you describe your performance? Were you happy with your match?

Rebecca: Actually, I had two D’s, both on the last day.  My last shot of the match was a D with my weak hand, darn it! : )

WoUSPSA: Well, we don’t think it counts when it’s a weak hand shot ; )  Just kidding, but seriously, that’s some GREAT  shooting!

Rebecca: Overall, I was very happy with my match and felt very focused and relaxed and was able to remain consistent from stage to stage over the four days.  During the first two days I struggled a little with taking too many extra shots, but I reined it in and became much more focused for the second half of the match.  Even though I only won three stages, it was that consistency that made the difference.  I averaged only about 5 points down per stage for the match, which I was very pleased with considering the number of partial targets and no-shoots.  Our squad ended the match on the very tough weak-hand stage.  When I walked away from it with a solid, clean run, I breathed a sigh of relief and knew that win-or-lose, I had shot one of my strongest matches and was proud of that.  To also win ‘A’ class this year was a big highlight; I felt it was just as big of an accomplishment given how many shooters I competed against, both men and women.

WoUSPSA: Absolutely “A” lot to be proud of!  Now, you are not a “professional” shooter.  What does it mean to you to be able to win the Open Ladies National title as one who carries a full time job?

Rebecca: Managing my time between work and shooting has been my biggest struggle.  Achieving a spot as one of the top ladies despite this is something I’m very proud of.  Winning this year meant a lot to me because I had a very busy year at my job.

WoUSPSA: No doubt your win will help show other aspiring champions that with hard work and dedication you can be at the top as a non- pro.  Some have said that you were an underdog going into the match, although we certainly know you weren’t.  You won in 2008, shot a great match while being very sick last year and took back the title this year proving yourself a true top contender.  You also posted top scores in the critical major matches leading up to the Open Nationals.  How does that kind of chatter make you feel? Does it inspire you?

Rebecca: I’m not sure why people consider me an underdog since I’ve been in the Top 3 at the last 5 Nationals and won 2 of them.  Perhaps it’s just that I’m not as visible or well-known as some of the other ladies so some people tend to count me out.  No offense taken, though, I compete for myself, not others.

WoUSPSA: We aren’t sure either but you make some great points!  Is the Open Nationals your biggest match of the year and do you plan your season and training accordingly to peak at this event?

Rebecca: The Open Nationals is the culmination of the shooting season and I definitely train the hardest in the months and weeks leading up to it.  Last year I think I was a little burned out when it came time for the Nationals, so this year I was careful to pace myself and find a good balance between preparing for the match and not wearing myself out, physically or mentally.

WoUSPSA: Any plans to shoot other divisions?

Rebecca: I may shoot a little iron sights locally, but I’m having too much fun with my open gun to give it up.  : )  I haven’t competed with iron sights in many years and don’t really have the time to devote to it right now.

WoUSPSA: You and your boyfriend Todd Jarrett make a great team.  You also have your family and shooting friends, especially Megan Francisco, behind you. How important is it to have a support structure that both pushes and encourages you?

Rebecca: This is a vital part of any competition I think.  I have a lot of support from my family, especially my parents, and shooting friends.  We all need help to achieve our goals – no one can do it “on their own.”  Friends and family are the ones that believe in you and encourage you even when you are not so sure.  They also give you a big dose of reality when you need it, but it’s always done in a supportive and positive way.

WoUSPSA: We couldn’t agree more!  Did you learn anything about yourself as a competitor at the match?

Rebecca: It’s very important to stay positive and focused.   I concentrated more on my mental game and saw what a difference it made for me at this match.

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 Megan vs. the ladies?

Rebecca: I think it’s important that all competitors are able to choose who they squad with.  I pay to shoot this match and spend a lot of time and money to attend and should not be required to shoot in a particular squad.  A requirement to shoot in X or Y or Z squad would take away from the enjoyment that is the Nationals experience for me, and I’m sure most other shooters would agree.   Going to the Nationals is a vacation for me each year and I take time off work to attend.  Since shooting is my hobby, I enjoy squadding with friends from home, because that makes it fun.  Those friends include Megan, one of my top competitors, so I still experience the healthy pressure of competition for the Lady’s title.   Even though Megan and I are competitors, we feel comfortable shooting together and push each other and that seems to help both of us at the bigger matches.  I also want to squad with people who I know will not only support me but also push me; this year that included Todd and friends like Megan and Ron Francisco.  This choice is certainly nothing personal against any other ladies.

WoUSPSA: After the Open match, you hung around to watch and support Todd.  How was that experience for you?

Rebecca: While my trigger finger was itching a bit, it was fun to relax and watch Todd and the other top guys.  I got to see Todd shoot a fantastic match and I was really proud of him.  It also gave me the opportunity to shoot my camera, which I always enjoy.

WoUSPSA: At least you were able to shoot a different type of trigger!  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?

Rebecca: I do grip strengthening exercises during my commute to work with a grip squeezer that I keep in my car.  I also enjoy yoga and hiking.

WoUSPSA: To stay energized, what is your snack and beverage of choice on the range?

Rebecca: I always have water and recently found naturally-sweetened Vitamin Water which is very tasty.  I rarely eat on the range but always have Clif Bars and nuts in my bag just in case I need a boost.

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

Rebecca: This was my last major match this year.  I will still attend local matches as much as possible so that I can keep my skills fresh and see my friends.

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

Rebecca: I spend more time with my family, who I don’t see during the season as much as I’d like.  Todd and I also often take a couple of weekend trips before winter sets in.  Life returns to “normal”, whatever that is, with a lot of the mundane tasks that get overlooked/put off during the shooting season.

WoUSPSA: Ah how those mundane tasks add up!  What are your long-term competitive shooting goals?

Rebecca: I’d like to achieve Master Class, and I’m looking forward to my first World Shoot next year.  Otherwise, I just want to continue shooting as long as I’m enjoying it.

WoUSPSA: We know you will do GREAT representing Team USPSA in Greece.  So, if you weren’t a competitive shooter, what do you think you would be doing?

Rebecca: I think I’d travel internationally more.  A return trip to Australia would be divine, maybe even New Zealand.

WoUSPSA: So a traveler at heart.  Do you have any special talents or skills that you would like to share with us? Maybe a photography/cooking blog you would like to share with us ;) ?

Rebecca: I have been dabbling in photography for the past year and a half and really enjoying it.  The inclusion of some of my photos in a local exhibition and the sale of some prints has given me the confidence to continue.  My blog was initiated as a way to share my photographs and express the artistic side of me that I hadn’t yet realized before my camera.

WoUSPSA: We certainly enjoy your posts (www.rtjphoto.wordpress.com).  Congratulations on your success so far!  When you aren’t on the road or at the range, what’s one of your favorite activities to do when at home?

Rebecca: I like to cook and I’m always looking for healthy new recipes!

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

Rebecca: I think a big detractor to new shooters, especially women and juniors, is that they start with as gun that is just too big for them to handle and lose interest quickly.  Taking a class from a good shooter is always a plus.  Dryfiring is one of the key things anyone can do to hone their shooting skills.  It’s important to get to know the gun first without the pressure of actually firing it.   A huge portion of shooting can be taught without ever firing a shot.  Never underestimate dryfiring!

WoUSPSA: So true!  Finally, how did you and Todd celebrate your awesome finish at the USPSA Open Nationals?

Rebecca: We enjoyed going to a nice dinner and a show in Vegas.  Since he was shooting the Limited Nationals, most of our attention was focused there.  After getting back to Virginia, we’ve just been enjoying having some time to relax!

WoUSPSA: Much deserved.  Thanks so much for taking the time to answer our questions. Congratulations once again on your win and for securing a place on the Ladies Open Team for the World Shoot. We hope you enjoy your “time off”!

Check out this footage of Rebecca claiming her title at the 2010 S&W Open Nationals!

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