Watching the news over the spring and summer of 2018, we might be tempted to think that every high school student across the United States have been caught up in anti-gun-rights marches. The good news is that as big and loud as those teens are, there are plenty of examples of young men and women who know the US Constitution and value their Second Amendment Rights. And I am excited to introduce you to one of these young patriots, McKenna Beckham, who is an accomplished competitive shooter and who aspires to attend a service academy, with the ultimate goal to serve her country in the United States Secret Service.
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McKenna is a sophomore at Horizon High School in Arizona and competes in smallbore and highpower rifle disciplines. She began shooting with her father at the age of 9.
McKenna has been shooting competitively for just under 2 years and is passionate about the shooting sports. She is a member of the Arizona Junior High Power Team, which is a division of the Arizona State Rifle and Pistol Association (ASRPA), and the State Association of the NRA. She has placed in or won her division in several competitions. She also personally maintains all of her own equipment, as well as loads her own ammunition.
I caught up with McKenna during a recent competition at Camp Perry, Ohio.
Cheryl: McKenna, how did you get into the shooting sports?
McKenna: I had started shooting when I was younger. One Saturday at Sportsman’s Warehouse, my dad and I met Madison Rovelli and her parents who were fundraising for the Arizona Junior High Power Team. They told us about the ASRPA smallbore program, and I started immediately. After shooting there for about 8 months, I tried out for the High Power Team and made it. I can say I am very excited that Madison is my roommate here at the Camp Perry Nationals!
Cheryl: Tell me a little bit about your High Power team.
McKenna: Currently our team has 9 total members. We are led by Coach Myles Gorin, Coach Randy Jacovich, Coach Quang Nguyen and Coach Jaden Swartwood. Our team captain is Kade Jacovich. We compete locally in Arizona as well as nationally. We are currently at Camp Perry, Ohio, shooting every day. We compete in a variety of events, but generally we shoot bullseye targets at distances from 200 to 600 yards. It is very demanding physically and mentally. Part of being on the team includes rifle and gear maintenance as well as reloading. To get the accuracy we need (as well as keep costs down), team members must reload their ammunition. We all shoot .223 rounds out of 20-inch AR-15s.
Cheryl: What is it about the shooting sports that you enjoy so much?
McKenna: What I enjoy the most is when everything comes together to make the perfect shot: Sight picture, proper elevation and windage adjustments, calm heart rate, and a perfect trigger squeeze. The vast majority of the time, I know what score I shot before I even see the score come up.
Cheryl: All of that takes an incredible amount of concentration, focus and foresight. People who are not in the shooting sports likely have little appreciation for the skills that and dedication that this kind of sport instills in young people. Skills that will translate into your future career, no matter what you choose to do. What are your ultimate life-goals?
McKenna: My goal is to be accepted to and attend the US Naval Academy and serve my country in the Navy. After that, it is my goal to become a United States Secret Service agent and be a sniper on top of the White House.
Cheryl: Those are exciting goals, and I am touched to know that you want to serve your country and protect our president in the future. High-schoolers and gun legislation have recently become paired up in the news. How do you feel about the recent calls for additional gun legislation by people very near your own age – or people of any age for that matter?
McKenna: I really don’t understand why young people or people of any age are so intent on giving up on their own rights, especially the Second Amendment. The right to keep and bear arms is not a privilege given by government, but rather a natural right of all people on this earth. It is important to note, the 2A is the final defense of our Bill of Rights and our Constitution.
Cheryl: I appreciate how much passion I sense in your words about our nation and about our Rights. Your emphasis on education, training, and having a heart for Service make you a wonderful role model for other young people. How do people follow your work and your sport?