WOOSTER It’s hard to tell what 20-year-old Kayle Browning of Wooster is more excited about — being one of the top female trapshooters in the world or the huge closet in the home she’s building.
“It’s 10-by-12, so it’s pretty big,” she said, laughing. “I could have another bedroom or a walk-in closet, and I said closet.”
She could tile the roof with all the medals she’s won in her sport.
Browning has an international-level trap range on her family’s land in Wooster, where she’s building a one-bedroom, one-bath 1,450-square-foot home.
That’s why the location is perfect for her home, she said.
“I can literally walk out my front door and shoot,” she said. “You have to practice every day. It’s like a job.
“On average, I probably practice around six hours a day — sometimes less, sometimes more — it just depends on how close I am to competition.”
Her father, Tommy Lynn Browning, is her coach. A former national sporting-clay champion, he handed her a BB gun when she was a little girl.
“That’s how it all started,” she said.
And, it’s not over.
Kayle Browning was the alternate on the 2012 U.S. Olympic team, which included only one female shooter.
“That’s definitely my biggest accomplishment so far,” she said.
She went to London in April for a pre-Olympics World Cup and won a bronze medal.
“In the competition, I shot a 68 out of 75 [targets] to make it into the final,” she said. “In the finals, I shot 16, which is terrible, out of 25. That was my first overseas final to be in. … I was just nervous, but I came out with a bronze, so I was happy.”
Browning got back from Slovenia two weeks ago, where she was one of the top 12 female shooters in the world, and she placed sixth in the International Shooting Sports World Cup Finals.
The woman who made it onto the U.S. Olympic team placed 10th.
It was Browning’s second time in Slovenia. She also competed there in 2009.
“It’s a beautiful country, so pretty. It’s small, but it has a lot of agriculture and wineries,” she said.
“You hang out, go to dinner together with all the other countries, too. It’s definitely a neat experience.”
Browning said she usually travels twice a month to events, and she is used to getting surprised looks at airports.
“Whenever I travel overseas and stuff, we have to wear dress pants and a really nice shirt. When I go to the airport to check [my gun], they say, ‘What kind of band instrument do you play?’ I say, ‘That’s a shotgun.’”
She uses her trusty Krieghoff K-80 12-gauge.
Browning said the United States has about 200 female competitive shooters, and approximately 40 women participate in each World Cup.
“It’s just always such an honor to go to a World Cup final — you’re considered one of the top 12 shooters in the world. That, in itself, is a lot of pressure.”
Browning said 96 percent of shooting is mental.
“Once you get the muscle memory down, it’s all a mental game,” she said.
That means using the same form and setup every time, she said.
Bunker shooting involves an underground bunker with 15 trap machines that send out the clay targets at an average speed of 78 mph, she said.
“In bunker, you can get a left-hand target, right-hand or straight-away target, and you don’t know what you’re going to get,” she said.
A round is 25 targets, and consistency is the key, Browning said.
“Some people can shoot 24, 25 once, and have a 20, 21. If you can keep that 23, 24 consistency, that’s pretty good,” she said.
Browning is more than good, her father/coach said.
“She’s one of the best in the world,” he said.
He bragged on an accomplishment she didn’t mention — she is a national record holder in women’s international trap.
She shot 254 out of 275 targets in the 2011 national championship competition, and that record hasn’t been broken, Tommy Lynn said.
“She works very, very hard, trains a lot, and of course, we’re all real proud of her from a family standpoint,” he said.
“I had a guy I didn’t even know call the other day to tell me how proud the community is of her.”
Browning has a shot at making the next U.S. Olympic team. Leading up to the 2016 Olympics, she will compete in a fall selection match and spring selection match, and the combined scores will decide who makes the Olympic team.
Her next competition is Thursday through Oct. 14 in Kerrville, Texas, where the top three shooters will be part of the 2013 USA Women’s World Cup Trap Team.
“If I make that, I’ll be put on a World Cup team for 2013, and I’ll go to all the World Cups and compete for our country,” she said.
There are six World Cup competitions each year, and next year’s locations include Mexico and Spain.
She took time off from the University of Central Arkansas to focus on her sport, but she is taking online courses.
“I’ve always wanted to be a nurse anesthetist,” she said, so she’s taking general-education classes to prepare for nursing school.
“I’m not that patient with people, so I don’t think I could be a nurse.”
Browning said she likes being in surgery, but she doesn’t want to be a doctor, so an anesthetist sounded like a perfect job.
She also teaches competitive shooting through the week at the range, where her home is being built. The work is being done primarily by her father, with her help.
“Luckily, in shooting, there’s not really an age to where you can’t do it anymore. As long as you can see it pretty well, you can shoot,” she said.
She said she knows competitive shooters who are 60 and 70 years old.
“I plan to do it as long as I’m capable of shooting,” she said.
But in the meantime, she has Sheetrock to hang.
Senior writer Tammy Keith can be reached at (501) 327-0370 or firstname.lastname@example.org.