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Third Century | Jon Michael McGrath

Third Century | Jon Michael McGrath

Photo credit: Image Copyright Phil Blom/Sydney Sports Photography. Reproduced with permission of Australian International Shooting Limited

Boy Scouts, shotgun shooting and God-given talent.

Since the future of the Second Amendment is often debated these days on Capitol Hill, it seems only appropriate that a young, world-class skeet shooter would want to learn about the inner workings of our political system.  

From his start in the shotgun sports at a Boy Scout summer camp, McGrath has traveled the world, competing against the best shooters around. Prior to his graduation from the University of Oklahoma this year, the NRA Life member served as a congressional intern and learned more about how our government works from the inside.

In the heartland of America, we are descendants of pioneers. We know our neighbors and help when it’s needed. I grew up like most boys in my area of the country. I played Little League baseball and participated in Cub Scout activities in Tulsa, Okla. I moved on to Boy Scouts and attended my first summer camp, where I had the opportunity to try a number of new activities. (I later earned the rank of Eagle Scout in 2009, but that’s a different story.) “I believe everyone has a God-given talent or talents. I was blessed with excellent eyesight and hand-eye coordination.”

I was first introduced to shooting clay targets at that Boy Scout summer camp. At the time I didn’t know it would change my life forever. When I returned home, I asked my dad to take me to a shotgun range. The next week, we went to the shotgun range, where I had the opportunity to shoot my first round of skeet. That was a turning point for me—and the beginning of a tremendous journey. 

Along the way, I have been fortunate to get to live and train at the United States Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. My teammates were some of the most motivated and positive people you would ever want to meet. We came together from all areas of the country and varied backgrounds to form Team USA, showcasing our skills on the world stage.

I believe everyone has a God-given talent or talents. I was blessed with excellent eyesight and hand-eye coordination. In the Olympic sport of men’s skeet, reaction time is extremely important, so my gifts helped me to be successful.

The National Rifle Association has played a big part in my journey. When I was 14 years old, I was selected to participate in an NRA Advanced Shotgun Camp near Williamsport, Pa. I met kids from around the country who were just like me and wanted to excel in the sport of skeet shooting.

Each year the NRA holds its Annual Meetings & Exhibits, where attendees can see all the latest shooting-related products and visit with the top marksmen of the day. I have attended the event for several years, and it is always a highlight for me.

This year, I graduated from the University of Oklahoma after studying energy management and finance. I’ve always been fascinated with how government operates from the inside, and while in college, I was fortunate to work as a congressional intern in the Washington, D.C., offices of Rep. Markwayne Mullin, R-Okla. This provided me with a better understanding of government, and gave me the opportunity to learn more about transportation, infrastructure and commerce issues.

The shooting sports have opened my eyes and helped me realize that there is a lot to learn out there. I’m forever grateful for that summer scout camp where I was first introduced to shooting clay targets. The shooting sports have truly helped shape my life.