Monday, August 30, 2010

Cheaper Than Dirt! Interviews Sarah Irish

I was talking with Julie Golob a couple of weeks ago and we were discussing the Women of USPSA and some of the up and coming Junior Shooters when Julie mentioned that I should talk to Sarah Irish and possibly interview her and post her profile here on the Shooter's Log. Quite honestly, I didn't know much about Sarah except for hearing of her performance at the ICORE match last year, but a quick search turned up Sarah's website and some videos that truly blew me away. I could see why Julie wanted me to talk with Sarah: she just turned 18 years old, but already she's one of the fastest shooters in USPSA!

Julie put us in touch, and I got the chance to give Sarah a call and talk to her a bit about how she got started shooting and her future in the USPSA and shooting sports in general.
Hi Sarah, thanks for talking with us today. First of all, congratulations on your recent High Lady win in the Open Division at Area 5. Thanks! I was really surprised that I placed high in that match. I'd just graduated high school the weekend before, so I didn't have time to really prepare myself. I spent two weeks before the match writing my graduation speech, and generally getting ready for graduation. Going into it, I didn't expect much in the way of my performance at Area 5.

Did you grow up shooting with your family? Not really. I went out with my dad to shoot at my grandpa's property when I was at least 3. After that I didn't shoot again until I was probably 12. I took a Hunter's Safety Course. After that I went to the range with my dad, trying to get some practice and we saw that they were doing a bowling pin shoot, so I started doing that.

You just came across the bowling pin shoot at the range and thought it looked like fun? Yeah, I thought it looked like fun so I tried that for a while.

It looks like you got pretty good at the bowling pin shoots, you set a number of record times clearing the table. Yes, I set the fastest time at the range. The time was a 1.98 second run, and then more recently I shot a 1.18.

That's incredibly fast. Tell us a little bit about how you do it. It took me a while to get there. I never really get a chance to practice much, even now because of school. It kept me really busy so I never got much chance to practice. I really just practiced by shooting other matches.

Does your family participate with you at the matches? My parents actually shoot most matches that I shoot at. Both my mom and dad shoot with me. They help me with the financial side. Now I'm a poor college student going out, so they help me with that part. [Ammunition prices] are brutal. Buying the open guns has a big [financial] impact as well.

How often do you get the chance to go shoot a match or get out to the range? We usually shoot a match every weekend or so.

Do you practice at home at all with dryfire or airsoft? I do have an airsoft setup in the attic. I do that occasionally, but I've been slacking from that. I do do some dryfire occasionally.

Do you have a typical routine or drill you do when you dryfire practice? Not really. Mostly I'll look back on video to see what I messed up on at the last match, what's something I could improve on. I'll do some draws and reloads too.

Do you do any specific training for the different types of matches like Steel Challenge? Not usually. I usually just go out and shoot, which makes me rather atypical compared to your normal shooter.

It sounds a lot like you're just a natural. {nervous laughter} I guess you could put it like that. I will train if I get the chance to, but usually I just have a lot of time constraints.

Did you have any coaches or mentors who helped you as you began to get better and faster? Not really. I did do Kay and Jerry Miculek's Junior Camp twice. That helped me out a lot.

I'm actually at their house right now training. They've really helped me out a lot. I've been practicing down here from the beginning of the month.

You've recently made the move from Junior to Ladies. Do you feel ready to compete against the big names like Kay Miculek and Jessie Abbate? I think I'm ready to go. I've done a lot of matches. I generally just shoot to go out and have a good time. I never really got competitive until now.

Still, you definitely seem to have a competitive spirit. You just graduated Salutatorian of your high school class. Then last year you picked up a revolver for the first time and shot the ICORE match where you managed to place 5th overall and take home a win in the Ladies division. Obviously something has awakened that competitive nature. Yeah, I think part of is that I'm pretty good at adapting to new situations. The revolver match, I'd only shot a revolver three times before that match. I'm just generally pretty good at picking up something new and figuring out what I'm supposed to be doing.

You're heading into college now and I'm wondering where you see yourself heading in the future. Will you stick with Chemical Engineering or do you see yourself becoming a part of a major shooting team? I'd kinda like to do both, if it's possible. Becoming a sponsored shooter, that'd be way more fun than being a chemical engineer. It depends on the financial side as well, whether or not I can support myself in a shooting career. I'm not entirely sure about that, but I'd be open to the opportunity.

Are you planning on continuing to shoot while you're in college? Actually, the college I'm going to has a range 6 miles away. If I get a chance I'll be out there as often as I can.

Is there a pistol team or shooting club at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology where you'll be attending this fall? They have a rifle team with a rifle range on campus. I've thought about participating with the team but I'm not sure yet. I may go to tryouts, depending on when they are. It's just so different from USPSA, I don't know if that will throw me off. They do like 60 shots over the course of two hours.

It would be a different experience. I might do it just for the experience, but I haven't decided so far.

I appreciate you taking the time to talk with us and I know we all look forward to seeing your future performances in USPSA. Thank you too.

After this interview Sarah placed 3rd in her division at the USPSA World Championship Steel Challenge. She's currently attending Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology where she's pursuing a degree in Chemical Engineering. You can learn more about Sarah at her website

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