By: Cassie Coburn
The average teenage girl fills her days with classwork, friends, and social media. There are daily classes to trudge through; all the while watching the clock for the ever-anticipated weekend.
Oh, there are friends, and lots of clock-watching. However, Ashley’s daily activities are by no means typical for most 17-year-olds.
“I get up early and dry-fire my pistol, rifle, and shotgun for an hour or two, then I hit the gym,” Rheuark says. “Upper body strength is important to me, but I also work on running and endurance. Then it’s four or five hours at the range with my dad. Everyday.”
Ashley’s strong love for shooting shines through in her conversation. She speaks adoringly of her parents and the support she receives from them. They taught her the value of hard work at a young age, and led by example through their family business. Her father has held an especially important role in Rheuark’s enthusiastic journey. As a National go-cart champion, he passed down the fire and determination Ashley displays in each competition she enters.
When Ashley was ten years old, she asked her father if she could join him on one of his many deer hunts. Her dad was thrilled to have his oldest daughter along, and eagerly showed her the ropes. He taught her the basics of firearm safety and how to respect her weapon.
“The first time I shot a rifle, I thought it was the coolest thing ever. I was hooked.”
From there, Rheuark quickly blossomed into the champion we see today. She attended a basic pistol class at the local range to learn more about firearm form and handling. When she was thirteen, her father bought a Glock 19 for home defense; and Ashley took to the new pistol immediately. Range time became more frequent, and each session grew longer. When she learned a local club would be hosting a shooting competition, Ashley signed up. It wasn’t long before she became a regular among the tournaments. Rheuark eventually caught the eye of National Champion Morgan Allen, who mentored both she and her father along the way.
“I feel so blessed to have such amazing people in my life.” Ashley states with genuine gratitude.
“If I wasn’t doing what I am now, I’m not sure where I’d be.”
Under Allen’s guidance, Ashley signed up for the IDPA Nationals and won the National Jr title at only 15 years old. Thrilled with the rush of victory and more determined than ever, she pushed her training into high gear. Rheuark began taking advice from USPSA GM Bill Drummond, who taught her tips and tricks to become more efficient and focused. Her list of mentors is certainly long and impressive, each giving her new tools and advice that she uses constantly. Most recently, she was contacted by World Champion Taran Butler, who currently sponsors Rheuark in her matches.
“I’ve learned to do all the hard work before, and then put it in cruise control.”
Rheuark did just that at Brownells’ first ever all-female 3-Gun match, wowing onlookers as she claimed victory in the amateur division. And she isn’t finished yet. This April, Ashley competed in her first ever USPSA MultiGun Nationals and blasted her way to the National Lady Title in Tactical. Her smile says it all as she poses with the latest addition to her growing collection of trophies. She’s right where she wants to be.
“This is my job now.” Ashley says.
“I shoot full time; and I want to pursue the sport as long as possible.”
Rheuark finished high school early, and plans to continue honing her skills and passion for shooting sports. She talks about her love for the game with contagious enthusiasm. When asked about her favorite gun she laughs and says it would be like choosing a favorite child.
Besides enjoyment of the sport itself, she also loves the time shooting gives her with her father.
“He’s there every step of the way. He knows when I need a push, and when I need a break.”
She definitely has our attention, and the attention of thousands as she has grown into a formidable opponent in the shooting sports. However, the most magnetic thing about Miss Rheuark isn’t her pistol prowess, but her genuine joy in the journey she’s found herself on. She eagerly offers advice to those who may want to find themselves where she is now: “Just get out there and try it,” she says. “It can be intimidating for young girls to enter a sport dominated by adults, especially when most of them are men. You really can do anything you set your mind to if you work hard enough.”