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KIMIKO DONAHUE:  Racing… with Guns! by Sheila Rockwell



When you think about insurance, you may think: yawn. But don’t worry. This article is not about insurance, and I can promise you….insurance agent Kimiko Donahue is anything but boring. In fact, you could describe her as an adrenaline junkie. A petite powerhouse. Or simply, and perhaps most accurately, as a beautiful, competent, strong, and completely bad-ass lady!

After a series of unfortunate events sidelined her from motorcycle racing in 2014, Kimiko began looking for another sport to fuel her need for speed, and found it in competitive shooting. Kimiko slowed down just long enough to answer some interview questions, and I, for one, am glad she did. I’m certain you will be, too. Read on:

Kimiko, tell me about your first experience with firearms, and how your interest in guns grew from that point forward… 

“My first experience was simple– go out into the desert and shoot at a dirt mountain. It was fun, but I didn’t have much interest in it then. At the time, I was committed to racing motorcycles.  One day, I was watching the Sportsman channel and saw a 3 Gun Nation Pro Series event. I watched pro shooters shoot against the clock. Basically it’s racing– with guns. I started watching it more and more and began seeing more female competitors– so I jumped on YouTube to research these ladies. I don’t want to leave anyone out– because I’ve met most of them now and they are all so wonderful, but specifically Becky Yackley, Lena Miculek, Janna Reeves, Jessica Hook, and a few other great women who shoot 3-Gun. (I wish I could list them all! So I’m sorry for leaving so many out.)

IMG_1426So, I went out and bought three guns. A simple AR15 pieced together with various parts, a Mossberg 930 JM Pro, and a Glock 34 Gen 4. I attended my first 3-gun match and had so much fun!! I began learning about the proper equipment to use, watching YouTube videos, and observing the shooters at the local ranges. It wasn’t until May 2015 that I began to travel for matches. And, it wasn’t until about 6 months ago that I decided to become more serious about my pistol skills in particular.”

What types of shooting do you most enjoy, and what are your immediate and future goals and/or aspirations?

“I enjoy 3-Gun the most because you get to use all three guns! When I first began, My dream was to shoot the 3 Gun Nation Pro Series. However, I realized that in order to be competitive– I must master the pistol. Literally MASTER the pistol. I have also found that great pistol shooters can pick up any gun and shoot it well. Many pistol techniques and skills translate to all the other guns. (Just look at the pistol shooters who just competed in the Big Gun 2:Sin City!) So, I have been focusing on USPSA, steel matches and IDPA.”

Tell me a little bit about some of your interests or hobbies besides shooting?

IMG_1425“My daughter just started dance classes and gymnastics. I am a certified Pound instructor. It’s a really fun workout with drumsticks! (Check it out on YouTube!) I also enjoy music– I sing, play guitar (metal specifically), and I love bowling.”

How and why did you transition from motorcycle racing to competitive shooting?

“This could be a whole other article! Long story short, I had a rough crash in 2014. I hit my head pretty hard. Then, a month later, I went to a private track to practice, and my motor blew up. I took it as a sign that it was time to take a break. That’s when I saw the TV show and a few months later, I was shooting 3 gun!

Like most sports, a lot of the mentality translates to shooting. Example: looking through the corner and seeing the next turn is similar to looking to the next target and seeing them in your peripherals. A lot of multitasking and planning goes into both. Oh! And making sure your equipment works.”

What is your motto or mantra?

“There is always room for improvement. I say this to agents at work and in life in general, it applies to more than just shooting.”

Who, if anyone, would you credit as inspirational to you as a female shooter?

“There are seriously so many! And I have met so many in person and they are great shooters and friendly ladies. I really respect the women who shoot, maintain a full time career, and may be mothers as well. I would like to give a huge shoutout to Deb Ferns in Arizona. If it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t have started traveling to 3-Gun matches or have met so many of the people I know now. I attended her 2015 Babes With Bullets 3-Gun challenge. I seriously walked away with new parts on my shotgun from Jerry Miculek himself, great items off the prize table, and priceless friendships. (I had the coolest squad!)”

As a woman in the traditionally male-dominated shooting industry, how do you work to bridge the gender gap? What do you think about the “Gun Girl/Bunny” image?

IMG_1427“I have been in male-dominated jobs and sports my whole life. Motorcycles, insurance, firearms. I actually have experienced ageism more than sexism. I started riding when I was 18. By myself. I started my insurance career and had my daughter at the age of 20. By myself. So, being taken seriously was a challenge at first. Once I showed confidence and knowledge, that basically fizzled away. Fortunately, at my local ranges and at the big matches I attend– there are many women involved! It is very refreshing and exciting to see more and more involved.

As far as the gun girl or gun bunny stigma goes– yeah, I’ll say it… “opinions are not facts.” If the “image” gets someone interested in shooting, who may not have if it wasn’t for that image– then there would be one less person who isn’t getting to enjoy the sport and/or exercise their Second Amendment right. The stigma only bothers me when someone uses it as a derogatory comment to a woman.”

What advice would you give to a lady that is interested in learning to shoot, but doesnt know how/where to get started?

“My advice? Just be you!! Go in with confidence– and find a mentor. Male or female– if you want to get better at something, find a coach. Even coaches have coaches. Begin your own research. Don’t be afraid to ask for help!! I give this advice to agents at work as well.

Some local ranges have classes you can attend. There are also several Women-Only camps that you can attend. Just to name a few– Check out Babes With Bullets and Gunterest on Instagram.”

Do you CC, and if so, how/where/(why this item/choice) do you Conceal Carry?

“If I told you, it would defeat the purpose 🙂

Arizona has great laws that allow me to open carry or conceal carry. 5.11 Tactical has a great purse that allows easy access and it looks professional in a corporate environment.”

What else would you like our readers to know about you?

“I work as a manager for an insurance company. I used to own my own agency, and now I train and develop agents to grow their businesses. I grew up with Tourette’s Syndrome and still have an eye twitch. I have a daughter. I’m a single mom. I love coffee.”

“LIGHTNING ROUNDQUESTIONS: IMG_1422

Favorite Gun? Shotgun.

Spa or Campground? Dude.. both!

Casual or Dressy? Also both. I love heels and my Solomons.

Favorite Food? Steak, scallops, sushi, crime brulée

Favorite Drink? Coffee

Mountains or Beach? Ahhh why are these questions so hard? Both!

Cats or Dogs? Sadly, I’m allergic to cats. But I love animals. I wanted to be an animal cop when I was a kid.

Hunting or Fishing? I’ve never been hunting 🙁 would love to go!

Favorite vacation spot? I haven’t been on a vacation that wasn’t shooting in a couple of years. My favorite trip so far was to Banff, Canada that I won when I was an insurance agent. It was gorgeous!!

Makeup or No Makeup? Both!

Early Bird or Night Owl? Sadly also both… I don’t sleep. May explain the early gray hairs.

Name one beauty item that you cannot go without: race red lipstick.

Complete this sentence:

If you were to look in my Range Bag, you would be sure to find : bubble gum.

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