by Sheila Rockwell Girls Can’t Do What?! – Danyela D’ Angelo

The American Woman Shooter Magazine has always recognized and encouraged Junior Shooters. In this and in future issues, we have decided that in order to further empower our featured girls, we will have them write their own articles, in their own words. Here, 12-year-old Danyela D’Angelo tells her story, and about how she feels when she hears, “Girls Can’t Do What?!?”

“My name is Danyela D’Angelo. I’m 12 years young and a 7th grader. My interest in shooting competitively all started when I was abunspecified-1out 7 years old and my Dad took out his BB gun. I knew he loved shooting, and he let me shoot it one time at some cans, and I loved it! After that I asked him every day if I could shoot it again and it seemed like his answer was always, “Maybe tomorrow.”

After a few months went by, I started getting comfortable with the BB gun and learned all of the 4 gun safety rules. When I was 10, I started to shoot in steel challenge with a .22 short barrel rifle(SBR). I shot just about every 3rd Sunday of the month, which didn’t seem like enough practice. After a year of shooting just Steel Challenge, I started shooting every Thursday night, at our local club Cactus Combat Match League, which I still do every week. Now I’m shooting in pistol, rifle, and 3 gun matches almost every weekend.

I have 2 younger sisters, Delylah and Dory, who are 6 and 9. My 9 year old sister shoots the same SBR I learned on in Steel Challenge, and she is very good, much better than I was at her age. But she learned differently than I did… with Delyah my Dad only ever said two words: “don’t miss”! I was offered a sponsorship by KE Arms and I was so excited! I was able to tour the factory and saw a machine that creates AR’s from metal blocks.

Shooting and gymnastics are my two favorite things to do. I compete in both sports. A while ago my gymnastics coach told my Mom that I could move up to tumbling and trampoline(TnT) on an actual team. I was really excited and glad I can compete in both sports. I want to thank EVERYONE at my local club who are always there to give me some pointers, or show me where I am making mistakes. Four very important people have inspired and shaped me in my shooting. My Dad, (Danny D’Angelo), Niam “Nick” Saiti, Gannon Burleigh, and John Tyler BrooksYoung Shooters have all been very inspiring in my shooting career. Nick is one of the best shooters in the world and took an interest in me. When I watch him shoot, It seems like he’s shooting a machine gun. Gannon has given me lots of what he calls “pro tips.” He and my dad are friendly rivals who’s scores seem to be almost the same, no matter what they do to win. John is a former Marine Scout Sniper who built my KE Arms competition rifle and sighted it in with me in 110° heat! My dad hand-loads my ammo, gets up at 5:00, puts everything in the truck, bought the guns for me, and supports me in everything. He always asks me, “How long does it take to miss?” and I always respond with the same answer: “Forever.” All of them have helped me, given me tips, and stuck with me in things related to shooting.

Right now I want to get better so that I can be the best at my local club matches! When I’m 30 years old I want to have at least one national championship. I would also like to compete in Three Gun Nation on Television.

I think people are more surprised than anything to hear that I shoot. Actually, very FEW people at my middle school know that I compete. There is a thought that guns are bad. I can’t even wear my sponsors’ shirt at school because “gun shirts” are against the rules. The gun isn’t gonna pop off the shirt and shoot anyone! If you play basketball and wear a Suns shirt I think you should be able to wear a gun related shirt if you’re a shooter!

The girl versus boy thing doesn’t matter with shooting. The bullets are just as fast! It doesn’t matter if you are a girl or a boy, in this sport you can be equally good if you do your best and try hard. I’m so glad I can compete in such an amazing and fun sport like this!” –DANYELA D’ANGELO