THE ROAD TO COMPETITIVE SHOOTING, WITH JANNA REEVES
by: Sheila Rockwell
Google “Janna Reeves”. Go ahead. Just do it. When you do, a virtual plethora of information will come up for your reading—and viewing—pleasure. She.Is.Everywhere. Miss BattleBorn, as she is also known, has created quite a presence for herself, both on the web and most importantly, on the competitive shooting circuit. She blasted (yes, I know, but it’s too good of a pun to pass it up) onto the 3 gun competitive scene in early 2014. Since then, Janna Reeves has skyrocketed to the top of the women’s Pro 3 Gun competitors, befriending and competing against the likes of Katie Harris, Lena Miculek, and Dianna Leidorff. Her accomplishments earned her a coveted spot on the 2014 televised 3 Gun Nation Pro Series, in which she was amongst the final 4 finishers.
With her impressive list of competitive top finishes, and a roster of sponsors including Noveske, Benelli, Taran Tactical Innovations, Freedom Munitions, Magpul, and Brownells (to name a few), you’d think that Janna has been shooting since childhood, but surprisingly, she’s only been shooting a mere 4 years, a minute of a lifetime. At age 32, she has the appearance of a twenty-something year old, with blonde hair and sparkling blue eyes and a pinup’s body. Love her yet? Just wait. Because behind the great figure and the beautiful face and the glowering tower of competitive accomplishments is—yep—a booming, bubbling personality, a generous and kind-hearted character, and a girl who loves fun, is talented and dedicated to her craft, and is witty, sharp, and smart. Other ladies and fellow shooters say that she is a barrel of laughs, that she lights up a room with her personality, that she instantly puts a smile on your face with her goofy antics, and that she is “The Funny One”. Yeah. Hide this article from your guys, ladies, because she is The Total Package Plus She Is A Damned Good Shot.
We had the opportunity to talk to Janna and gain some insight into her meteoric rise on the Road to Competitive Shooting. Here, she shares her personal story, her knowledge, and gives advice on how you, too, can get started shooting competitively. It pays to learn from the best, right? You’re welcome.
AWS: Janna, Tell me about your introduction to firearms, and then about how, why, & when you transitioned into competitive shooting(?) “My introduction to firearms came 4 years ago, when I walked into a gun store to buy my first gun. I wanted a gun to carry concealed and I knew nothing about guns so I went in and bought the smallest pistol I saw. In hindsight, I’d call that a bad way to shop for a gun! I took myself to the range the first time and I’d like to say I instantly fell in love with shooting but that wasn’t necessarily the case. However, I felt challenged (’cause I couldn’t hit the target!) and that’s one good way to ensure I’ll keep at something! About a year after I got my first gun, I got my CCW permit and decided I needed to really learn how to shoot. After more time at the range I realized I really did enjoy shooting. Ok let’s just be honest…I fell in love with shooting! Competition kind of came out of nowhere, actually. My life was very immersed in firearms and I was browsing Facebook one day when I saw the viral video of Katie Francis shooting a 3 gun match when she was 12 or something. I knew instantly that I wanted to do that! It combined guns, athleticism, and competition – 3 things that drive me. I love the added challenge of trying to master 3 guns, as well as the fact that the sport is often very physically demanding. I have always gotten great satisfaction from pushing myself to my limits and a little beyond and 3 gun does that, both physically and mentally.”
AWS: In the early days of your shooting career, did you envision yourself as becoming a pro competitive shooter? Was there (or is there currently) a person (or persons) that you found particularly inspirational or viewed as a “role model”? “I guess the idea of being a “pro” entered my mind after I attended my first match and saw that pro shooters exist! Honestly I didn’t know what to expect, what it took to be a pro, or what that would even look like besides wearing a jersey that looked like a NASCAR! I didn’t go into the sport looking to get sponsored but it wasn’t for lack of motivation, just more so an ignorance as to how things were structured. After I saw that being a paid shooter was an option, you can bet I decided that I wanted to do that! I’m not very good at failing to attain my goals so once I set that as a goal – which happened pretty early on – I put my head down and started working towards it.
There are a lot of shooters who I look up to or who have motivated me. Obviously the top female shooters were always role models for me just in terms of pure skill, but the guy who became one of my teammates has been extremely instrumental in helping me get to where I am. I owe a lot to James Casanova for being willing to put so much time and effort into helping me train and learn the ropes of 3 gun.”
AWS: As you have traveled the road of your own shooting career, what has been the greatest obstacle you have had to overcome? “Frustration, definitely. I’m very hard on myself and I regularly have struggled – and still do – with frustration. It’s easy to feel you’re not progressing fast enough or to feel you constantly fall short when you compare yourself to others. In training, you experience frustration when it feels like you’ve hit a wall or you’re “stuck”. Finishing poorly in matches when you’ve spent so much time and effort training is frustrating. It makes you want to just quit sometimes, but that’s never going to happen! So it’s an obstacle I wouldn’t say I’ve overcome, really, but one that I am met with continuously and have to keep overcoming.”
AWS: When/What would you consider your “first steps” to have been on this journey? What “first steps” would you encourage others to take if they, too, want to be a competitive shooter? “I felt pretty lost as to how to get started in competition. I looked for information but it was a little hard to find. So I decided to just go for it and I found a match and signed up!
Starting out is intimidating. It’s hard not to over think it and build it up to something scary in your mind but most people are surprised to find the actual experience is anything but! After you’re confident you’re a safe gun handler, have some experience shooting, can safely draw from a holster, and you’re proficient in handling your guns, there’s no reason why you can’t participate in a local match. People are incredibly welcoming, friendly, and helpful and will often even share gear or guns. I would encourage anyone starting out to let go of the notion that everything has to be perfect before you get out there.”
AWS: Who helped you navigate the terrain of choosing/obtaining your first sponsorships? What about choosing which matches/events to attend? How would you advise newcomers to the competitive circuit to proceed in these areas? “I consider myself incredibly fortunate to have been taken under the Noveske Shooting Team’s wing right away. My first match ever is where I met and attended a class by them and from there forward, I had their knowledge and experience as a resource. My first sponsorship was a handshake thing with a rifle company that never really got off the ground, which I actually obtained before I shot a single match! This was due (to) prior work I had done within the industry and a working relationship with the company. Jansen Jones of the Noveske Shooting Team contacted me shortly after my first match and told me they wanted to put me on the team in 2014. I was very blessed to just be able to take on the sponsors that the team had already been working with. With 4 months remaining in 2013 before I was on the team, I basically followed the guys around to matches and shot with them. Leeching their knowledge was invaluable and I’ll always be indebted to them for giving me a chance!
For new competitors choosing which competitions to attend, I’d say proximity, cost, and timing are often deciding factors. After you start shooting more matches you will see that there are certain “styles” to the events and you can get a feel for what you like. I love natural terrain with lots of running, long range shooting, and that are very physical so I gravitate towards those now. If you’re trying to get sponsored or be a top competitor, the more matches you can attend, the better! You want to meet as many potential sponsors as you can and get as much experience as possible. Social media has been a great help to me in working out sponsorship deals for 2015, as it’s clearly a great method of marketing and increasing visibility for my sponsors.”
AWS: To date, what would you say you are most proud of or has been your greatest accomplishment in your shooting career? Conversely, what has been your biggest “blunder”? “It’s hard to put a finger on any single greatest accomplishment. Honestly the moments when I feel the most pride is when a little girl comes up to me at a match and says I am the reason she started shooting. Or when a dad comes up to my booth at the NRA show and tells me I’m his daughter’s role model. Or when a lady tells me she shot her first 3 gun match after watching my videos. Those things make me feel like I’ve accomplished something much greater than just doing well in a match!
My blunders are too numerous to name! Fortunately, none have been non-recoverable and are mostly silly things like falling on my face. Mistakes are part of the game and when you make them, you’re in good company because everyone does at some point!”
AWS: Regarding your shooting career, is there anything that you would go back and do differently if you could? “Absolutely! I would have started when I was much younger! Other than that, I wouldn’t change a thing. Even though it’s been only a year and a half since I started competing, it’s been one amazing journey so far and everything has taught me something.”
AWS: Being a woman in the traditionally male-dominated shooting sports, have you been met with negativity or criticism from male competitors? If so, how did you handle it? “Yes I have. Generally, everyone is very supportive but there are the holdouts who see women competing alongside them in a negative way. I’ve heard some pretty rotten things said about females as competitive shooters. All it is to me is motivation to work harder. It does often feel like we have something to prove, but all I’m out to prove is that I genuinely love this sport and that I work hard at being a better shooter and a better athlete. It’s important to learn how to tune out the negativity and always remember why you love doing what you do and not to let anyone mess with that.”
AWS: Where do you see the road to competitive shooting taking you in the next few years? “I want to continue to improve in my skills and abilities, as I still feel like the rookie a lot of the time! I want to be regarded with absolute certainty as a force to be reckoned with on the range. I’d love to be selected to represent the US in Italy at the World Shotgun Championships in 2015 so that’s a short term goal for the new year. I am always preparing by practicing and shooting as many matches as I can because in this sport, you really can never “arrive”! There’s always places to improve your skill set. In 2014, everything was so new and shiny and when I went to matches, I had no idea what to expect. In 2015, I’ll have a little bit more experience to rely on so I can hopefully step up to the next level.”
AWS: What else would you like our readers to know about you? Any additional advice to offer to new or upcoming competitors? “I want people to know that I’m not some super shooter who was born with a gun in her hands! I really am considerably new to guns and the reason this is important to me to reiterate is because I want people to understand that it’s never too late! Just because you haven’t been shooting your whole life doesn’t mean you can’t become a competitive shooter and be good at it.
Also, I speak to a lot of ladies who are just very hesitant to take that first step into competition, and I want to encourage anyone reading this who feels that way to go ahead and give it a shot! Don’t build it up in your mind to be an intimidating monster, and go ahead and tackle that first match. After that, you’ll wish you had done it sooner! And above all, remember why you do what you do and continue to have fun doing it!”
You can learn more about and follow Janna Reeves on social media outlets such as Facebook, You Tube, Twitter, or just ask another 3-Gunner or competitive shooter about her. As of this writing, her Facebook page had over 362,346 devoted fans and followers. And that, people, is impressive, by anyone’s standard.
Thank you, Janna, for your time and contribution to this feature. We here at The American Woman Shooter wish you a 2015 of Happy Shooting!