By Julie Loeffler
If you’ve ever wondered what tenacious looked like, then look no further. The young lady pictured in this article, Sydney Rockwell, may just be taking tenacious to a whole new level. Along with the already fast pace of a teenager’s life, she is also throwing into the mix honors advanced placement classes, student council, the LPGA Girl’s Golf Division, and 3 Gun, Steel Challenge, IDPA, and USPSA competitions.
Her numerous shooting awards, recognitions, and achievements in the last twelve months include Youngest to Finish Match – Freedom Munitions 2015, 4th Place Ladies – Armalite 3 Man 3 Gun Challenge 2015, High Pro Junior – Brownells Lady Pro-Am East 2015, 8th TAC-OPS and 10th Overall Pro – Brownells Lady Pro Am East 2015, 4th Place Junior and 5th Place Lady – Fort Benning Multi Gun match 2015, and 4th Production – US Steel Nationals 2015. She finished her rookie season shooting 3 Gun by placing 2nd in the Club Series for both Ladies and Junior divisions. That doesn’t even begin to tout the various other awards for her additional activities. It’s as though she has the Midas Touch, but even Sydney will be the first to tell you that it doesn’t come without hard work and sacrifice.
Sydney has also had the privilege of being highlighted in TWO national television shows: John Scoutten’s Shooting USA on the Outdoor Channel, covering the Generation III Gun Championship and the new series The Big Gun: Ladies First on the Sportsman Channel.
Of course the sponsors have noticed this young lady’s hard work and dedication. She’s currently backed by KE Arms, Carbon Arms, CherryBalmz Weapons Lubricants, AR-15 Gun Owners of America, Generation III Gun, 5.11 Tactical, Rose Action Sports, TACSOG, Safe-Tech, and USGMC.
I had the chance to catch up with Sydney and ask her a few questions about being a teen, a competitive shooter, and the balancing act that takes place daily for her and her family. I believe we will be hearing great things about this young lady in the future (Yes folks, she’s only 15!).
Have you noticed any of your gun training qualities being able to translate into other areas of your life (ie: focus, drive, practice, patience, diligence, etc.)?
Shooting competitively has helped me a lot with balancing my schedule. As I evolve as a shooter, I have also noticed that I have learned to pace myself and to be patient when learning new skills. Competitive shooting has taught me other life skills, too, such as how to perform under pressure, the importance of hard work and its rewards, and too, accepting that sometimes things don’t go as planned and how to adapt and overcome in those situations.
You’ve had a couple of opportunities to be involved in network programs. How did you like it and would you like that to be a part of your future?
I have enjoyed my time on the television shows. I am really grateful to have had the opportunity to be cast in The Big Gun: Ladies First alongside some of the world’s best female shooters. It was such an honor—I felt like I had won the competition simply by being able to be a part of it! To be on Shooting USA was an honor, too. It was filmed during a competition so I think that the audience could really get a feel for what it is like to be in a 3 Gun match. I would love to do more TV programs! They are a lot of fun. It does add a bit more stress because when you make a mistake you know that a lot of people will see it, but that’s ok…it makes me try even harder!
It must be difficult sometimes to balance your competition shooting schedule with just being a teen. How do you do that?
It is very difficult, but so worth it! I attend the L&N STEM Academy where I am enrolled in all Honors and AP courses so going to school and shooting is literally all I do! When I am not at school, I am probably doing homework, dry firing, or at the range. My teachers are very supportive and my school works with my shooting schedule to excuse the days I miss for competitions. On the other hand, I absolutely love shooting, so it isn’t a sacrifice to miss going to the mall or movies. I am really lucky that I have found a group of other junior shooters that I have become good friends with, and we video chat a lot and keep in touch when we aren’t shooting at matches together. When we get to matches, it is like a big, fun reunion, and we all go to dinner together or hang out at the match hotels after we have finished shooting that day. They are kind of like an extended family! So my social life kind of revolves around shooting, too!
Who influences you, motivates you, pushes you to reach that next level in your shooting (whether they are shooters themselves or just motivating people to you)?
Many people influence and motivate me. My family is definitely my biggest supporter and I would not be able to do any of this without them. This sport is expensive, and my parents give so much for me to be able to do what I love. Another person who supports me is Pro shooter, Janna Reeves. Ms. Janna has been encouraging me and has helped me since I started 3 gun back in March of 2015. Sometimes I will go to her house and train with her, which I love! Training with her helps me grow as a shooter. Ms. Janna has helped me so much, as a coach, mentor, and friend. I can’t thank her enough! Another person who has always helped me and encouraged me is Mr. James Casanova. When I first started shooting, I was using borrowed guns and gear, and Mr. James is so awesome that he gave me his custom Noveske Shooting Team Glock so that I would have my own race-ready pistol! I could not do anything without these people and I am so grateful to be able to call them friends! I have a special nickname for them, too—I call them my “gunparents”!
As an ambassador for female shooters (both adult and youth), what one piece of advice would you give to someone curious about shooting (competition or otherwise)?
Go for it! Of course, the first thing you need to do is get the proper training. Take a safety course, and get yourself familiarized with firearms. Whether its for protection or you want to shoot competitively or both, you should always know to handle a firearm safely and efficiently.