I met Theresa Shields at the Fairfax Rod and Gun Club on a cold and blustery day during a demo event we were hosting. New to the shotgun sports, Theresa was a natural and smashed targets in no time. She exuded excitement about our line of Syren shotguns. We started talking and told me she was a personal trainer. I see a lot of women who struggle with lifting and then holding shotguns, and so, we thought we should give the ladies some easy exercises to help with building not only their upper body strength but their core strength. The bonus is not just the added strength, but also, nice, shapely arms.
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Syren: How long have you been shooting? Shooting a Syren? Who got you involved in shooting?
Theresa: I have been shooting for a little over a year now. My husband Steve told me about an “Introduction to Trap Shooting Clinic” at the Fairfax Rod and Gun Club where we are members and I “reluctantly” decided to give it a try. I say reluctantly because my husband has been shooting skeet for over 40 years, and when we started dating over 30 years ago, I tried skeet and couldn’t hit a target! It was a very frustrating experience. However, this trap clinic at the club looked interesting to me and he encouraged me to give it a try. I took the class, and, wow, did I find out a lot! First of all, one of the biggest obstacles I discovered was that I am left-eye dominant. Once that was corrected – by placing a patch on my shooting glasses – it changed everything.
I borrowed a Browning BT-99 from one of the instructors and I ended up being one of the best shooters in the class! After completing the clinic, I tried shooting a number of different shotguns, but none of them seemed to quite fit. I used a BT-99 for a while until the recoil got to be a bit too much. I next tried Steve’s old Remington 1100 with better results (and my shoulder thanked me for it), but I still had “fit” issues using a shotgun that was better suited for my husband.
Meanwhile, Steve had purchased a Fabarm XLR5 Velocity in March 2017 that he used for skeet and sporting clays. He really enjoyed shooting the gun and told me they had a women’s model called the Syren. This past April, Syren had a demo day at our club so I signed up. I was excited to try this line of shotguns. The first time I shot the Syren XLR5, it felt so natural and like an extension of my body. The female geometry of the gun fit me perfectly. It’s lightweight and easy to handle and I loved everything about the shotgun, and ended up purchasing a Syren XLR5 (our new semi-auto is the L4S) in May. I am extremely happy, and shot in my first registered trap shoot this past June!
Syren: What do you do for a living?
I am a personal trainer and I can honestly say I love my job! I feel blessed to be able to do what I love. I try to lead by example and encourage and motivate my clients to be the best version of themselves. To me it’s not just a job — it is a passion. I work with all types of individuals, but truly enjoy working with women and specifically building upper body strength! Personally, my upper body strength and my understanding of body mechanics definitely enhances and elevates my shooting ability.
Syren: What are some exercises that women can do to build their strength for shotgun shooting?
Here are several body-weight-only exercises that are fairly simple and no equipment is required. You can modify the number of repetitions and sets of the exercise to meet your own personal fitness level. Always be mindful of your form and I hope you enjoy these simple, but useful exercises.
The push-up is one of my favorite exercises and has such positive effects on so much of the body, including your chest, abs, and arms. They are also excellent for strengthening your abs and lower back muscles while increasing your balance and stability.
The Superman exercise is effective for developing strength and endurance in the back (erector spinae), while helping to prevent injury and postural spine problems.
The Plank Row is a dynamic exercise that primarily works the mid- and upper-back muscles while increasing stability in your spine and shoulders. It also hits the abs and obliques, which makes this a super useful exercise for shotgun shooters!
This is a perfect lower body exercise for beginners! It works your glutes, hamstrings and quadriceps while using your core to stabilize the movement.
It is the best exercise for strengthening the entire abdominal area and is one of my favorites.
Reminder: You can modify the number of repetitions and sets of the exercise to meet your own personal fitness level. Always be mindful of your form.
Syren: What do you most like about shooting shotgun?
Theresa: Shotgun shooting has really provided a mental focus outlet for me, as well as being such a fun outdoor activity. I enjoy the competitiveness of the sport, and I deeply enjoy the mental aspect. The “being present in the moment” that you must have when shooting truly excites me and I also enjoy the mind/body connection it provides. Absolute concentration and mental clarity, as well as fine motor skills and strength, are a must in the sport. Quite a balance of many things is needed to be successful. I also enjoy all the different people you meet. I have met a lot of wonderful individuals from different walks of life that I probably would never have met had I not been involved in shooting. It’s a great community and everyone is so helpful. It’s also a sport that my husband, son and I can participate in together.
Syren: What are your tips for ladies to get involved in shooting in their area?
Theresa: Shooting is a great sport for women to get involved in. Locate a local shooting club and sign up for a class. A lot of clubs have beginner trap and skeet leagues; consider joining one! I happened to have a husband and son who were already involved in shooting, so it was easy for me to get started. Don’t be intimidated by this mostly male-dominated sport. You will find that just about everyone is willing to help you. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for advice and questions. At our club, I was able to meet Ray Ycong, a world record holder in trap. I got a couple of lessons from him just by asking. Ray was very supportive and happy to lend his expertise. The community is very helpful, and I have found so many people who will go out of their ways to assist and give me instruction. Almost all the competitive trap shooters at the club always invite me to shoot with them and are available for guidance and help. It’s been great! They really support me as a shooter and want me to be successful.