Explore The NRA Universe Of Websites

APPEARS IN Features

Third Century | Molly Smith

Third Century | Molly Smith

Photo credit: Yamil Sued

Molly Smith isn’t your typical teenager. In fact, the former Team Smith & Wesson junior captain can shoot circles around many older shooters.  

But it wasn’t always that way. Six short years ago, Molly made her first visit with her father to the local shooting range. After some taunting by an Army veteran, she was immediately hooked on shooting.

Since then, she’s learned many valuable lessons about shooting and freedom—lessons we would all be wise to learn. 

The local range is a wonderful place—a gravel field with holes in the targets, rolling hills and gentle breezes. I go to the range often. When I can’t, I think of the lessons that run through the shooting sports, in particular the lesson I’ve learned: If there is anything that one wants badly enough, one must work for it, defend it, define it, understand it and grow with it.

When my dad first let me scurry onto the range, the first voice I heard was a bark: “Hey kid, bet you shoot like a girl!” I recoiled immediately at the comment. Then I noticed who was talking to me—Jeff Sandoval, an enormous Army veteran with twinkling eyes. I realized he was being encouraging. I wanted to show him what I could do! So profound was the exchange between us that I began my journey that very afternoon.Each person participating in the shooting sports is actively defending and exercising their Second Amendment right.

Soon I became comfortable shooting and noticed a common theme at the range—our uniqueness as Americans. The freedom we embrace began to make me more and more grateful. In this country we have the privilege to defend our rights! I am grateful for the twinkling-eyed veteran, my range with the holes in its targets and rolling hills that all say “freedom,” and because I have the opportunity to achieve my dreams and shoot, too. 

We constantly have people acting and speaking on behalf of our freedom in this country. Each day people work hard to defend our constitutional rights. Yet there are certain freedom battles that are constantly debated, our right to keep and bear arms in particular. I can’t think of any sport that sparks such controversy as shooting, which one must stand up for so strongly to participate. I understand the right Americans have to shoot, as well as the struggle of so many to keep that right accessible. This has changed my life, and I want to defend this freedom. Each person participating in the shooting sports is actively defending and exercising their Second Amendment right. 

I have come to realize that I want to stand for what I believe in, but more importantly, I want to learn. I want to understand the other side of the controversy. In the matter of gun rights, some people just don’t understand what I do as a shooter. There is a lack of understanding about the sport of shooting and the spirit of competition.

For our country to remain free, there needs to be focused and determined youth, with the patience to wait, practice, learn and lead by example. While I could have spent the last six years playing a “normal” sport, I’ve been growing both as a shooter and as a young woman. I’ve learned more about the Second Amendment and our rights as a free country than I ever would have otherwise. This has started a chain reaction in my mind, leading up to a realization: I don’t want to grow up and be waiting for someone to make a difference. I want to make the difference.

It all comes down to this: if you really want something, you’ll fight for it; you’ll work for it, defend it, define it, understand it and grow with it. Believe in yourself, and you will achieve. It only takes one person to start a movement. It takes strength, and strength can come from kindness—both from others, and to others.

I’m very strong in my beliefs, and always try to be kind in explaining them. I learned this from the past four years of shooting. My journey is perhaps unique, but I would love for everyone to have a range in their life, where the breeze blows across the hills and all are challenged to acknowledge their freedoms.

More Like This From Around The NRA