Gabrielle Pitre’s awards list is many arms lengths’ long, and includes High Colligate Service Rifle (NRA Nationals), 2018 Pennsylvania CMP State Champion and numerous Individual and Category awards at local and regional matches – dating back to 2011.
Sponsored by Capstone Precision Group
We found out why Gabrielle Pitre started shooting, the reasons she shoots and what the future holds. We thought you’d like to meet someone who is most definitely going places in the world of long-range shooting, and basically, in life.
The WON: When someone asks you what you do, what do you say?
Gabrielle Pitre: I shoot in high-power long range and across the course competition using an AR-15 and a .308 Palma rifle. I shoot at distances from 200 to 1000 yards from the prone, standing and sitting positions. We fire both slow fire (loading 1 shot at a time), as well as rapid fire, where we will fire 10 shots within a time limit of 60 or 70 seconds with a magazine change.
The AR-15 I shoot is a Rock River A4 with a Nightforce service rifle scope, Krieger barrel, with a Geissele trigger. My long-range rifle as I described as a .308 Palma rifle is a single shot .308 in a masterclass wood laminate stock. The action is a Defiance Rebel with an XTSP trigger, and a Brux barrel.
The WON: We noticed a reference to Alaska in your bio at your website. Do you still live there?
Gabrielle Pitre: No, I no longer live in Alaska. I grew up there and that is where my shooting journey began. However, when I was 13, we moved out of Alaska to Washington state. I lived in Washington state until half way through my junior year of high school; I was 16 and we moved to Kentucky. I currently live in Pennsylvania. However, I attend school in Ohio.
The WON: You started shooting a shotgun when you were 8. Wow! How did that happen?
Gabrielle Pitre: My sister and I used to attend an NRA kids’ safety day when we lived in Alaska, and as you got older you got to shoot different things and learn different skills. So, my age group was working on archery while my sister, a bit older than me, got to learn to shoot skeet and trap. She really liked it, so she talked to my parents about finding a club to participate in this and when she did, I would go to the practices with her and I would watch and after about 2 weeks or, so I was done watching and I wanted to try. So, one of the coaches took me under her wing and showed me the ropes and I fell in love with the shooting sports.
The WON: Why did you make the switch to rifle shooting, which is different as day and night in the shooting world?
Gabrielle Pitre: I made the switch to rifle shooting when we moved from Alaska because around where we moved to in Washington state, there were not many opportunities for the type of shotgun shooting I liked to compete in, which was sporting clays. As for the differences, the mental game is very similar; but other than that, everything is totally different. Nothing crosses over with the equipment. All the fundamentals – other than “keep the firearm pointed in a safe direction” and “keep your finger straight and off the trigger until you are ready to fire” –everything else is completely different. However, the biggest thing that stayed the same is the type of people. People in the shooting community are truly the best people you could ever meet. Ninety-nine percent of them would give you the shirt off their back and will do anything to help you, and to see you succeed. And so far, what I have found, is no matter what shooting sport you are participating in, there are always good people.
The WON: What’s your journey been like in the shooting world?
Gabrielle Pitre: My journey had been an incredible crazy ride full of amazing people and experiences, that I may have never had the chance to get to do, if it was not for shooting.
The WON: What teams are you on now?
Gabrielle Pitre: The only team status I currently hold, is team VihtaVuori. However, I did also shoot for Team Remington.
The WON: It seems that rifle shooters must be expert at getting into that world of extreme focus. How do you accomplish that?
Gabrielle Pitre: Any shooting sport requires a lot of focus and this amount of focus takes a lot of practice. To gain my level of focus, I read a lot of articles and books about mental focus and with lots of guidance from other experienced shooters, I began to create a mental attitude/game of my own. In my opinion, you never really complete your training for mental focus there is always something you can improve/strengthen for next time.
The WON: You’re sponsored by Vihtavuori. Why do you prefer to shoot this powder?
Gabrielle Pitre: When I am shooting, there are lots of different things that could go wrong. So, to prepare for things to not go wrong I make sure that my gun is in working order and my ammo is loaded to perfection. I don’t have to concern myself with the thought of my ammo being inadequate while I’m shooting because I choose VihtaVuori powder, Berger Bullets and Lapua Brass.
I know when I load for any match with their components, I am loading with quality components, so my ammo is as prepared as I am to win the match.
The WON: You’re in nursing school (what year?). How do you balance practice time on the range and studying/classes?
Gabrielle Pitre: I am currently enrolled in a 9-month LPN nursing program that I will be graduating from on June 4. After graduation, I plan on getting a job and going back to school in the fall to advance my nursing degree to a RN/BSN. I have to admit that balancing time between school, work and shooting has been very difficult. However, I started school at the tail end of the season last year, and this year’s season is just now starting up as I am getting ready to graduate, so timing falls where they will not be overlapping much. I also have the opportunity a couple times a month to set the homework aside for the night, and go shoot and coach some small-bore.
The WON: What do you like to do in your spare time?
Gabrielle Pitre: When I am not on the range and not studying for exams, I love going outdoors with my dog and boyfriend (whom I met shooting) and going hunting, fishing and hiking.
The WON: How would you describe the shooting world and the other women in it?
Gabrielle Pitre: I would describe the shooting world as a giant family, and every match is like a big family reunion. There are hugs, hellos and people you only see at these events. There may be the crazy uncle or cousin that not everyone likes, but you put up with. But in the end, as long as the weather isn’t too bad, we all have a good time.
The other women I have met in the shooting world have all been great. Not only in my discipline, but every shooting discipline that I have been exposed to. The one thing we all find in common, is there’s not always a lot of us. I know in some disciplines like PRS (Precision Rifle Series) and Smallbore, there are usually more female competitors on average. Even though we are competing against each other at the end of the day, we all tend to band together for some girl power – especially when one of us wins, and beats the boys.
The WON: What competitions are you scheduled to compete in this spring and summer?
Gabrielle Pitre: Mostly local matches, as I find my place in the working world, but I also plan on attending the CMP Nationals at Camp Perry, Ohio, and possibly the NRA National Matches at Camp Atterbury, Indiana.
The WON: Anything else?
Gabrielle Pitre: I would like to thank my amazing family and boyfriend who always help me and support me through everything.
Publisher/Editor Barbara Baird is a freelance writer in hunting, shooting and outdoor markets. She is a contributing editor at "SHOT Business," and her bylines are found at several top hunting and shooting publications. She also is a travel writer, and you can follow her at ozarkian.com. View all posts by Barbara Baird