It was April of 2016. I was a shy, 13-year old who was extremely insecure, and my self-confidence was basically non-existent. I can remember seeing the confident girls and women playing softball saying, “Come with us, Makayla, you’ll have fun.” And every time I went with them, I was so scared of the ball that instead of catching it, I would hit it away, almost falling over just to catch it. I HATED softball. I had tried everything and lost all hope. I honestly felt like a disappointment.
One day, my older brother, Johnathan Scott, decided to join our local 4-H shooting team. He absolutely loved it, and his team even made it to the 4-H Nationals in Nebraska the next year. Pretty soon, they were looking for new recruits for the team. He kept begging me to join, but I completely resisted. I knew this would be a failure like everything else. After a week of him pleading me to join, my dad finally stepped in and told me, “Come on and try. I have a feeling you’ll really like it. Just try it this once.” With that, we signed up for the team. On the first practice day, we went to the clubhouse to sign up. One of my coaches (and now, one of my favorite shooting buddies), Mike Adkins, asked me my name to get signed in. I kept trying to tell him, but nothing would come out. I was stuttering and shaking. I honestly felt like I was being confronted, even though I only had to tell him my name. He just laughed and said, “Gosh, girl, you’re shaking like a leaf.” I took a deep breath and finally told him. I was so nervous, and I hadn’t even picked up a gun.
After we had our team safety meeting, we headed to the field. I was the first shooter in our squad on the skeet field. Mike handed the gun to me. This was the first time I had held a shotgun, other than in my safety training. I was trembling as I held the gun in my hands. I took a deep breath and thought to myself: “You can do this, you can do this, come on …” I put the gun to my shoulder, called for the bird, followed its path and pulled the trigger. I crushed the clay into a million pieces. My eyes lit up and I smiled bigger than I had smiled in years. That shot, that broken clay, changed everything. Just a simple, broken clay changed my confidence and my personality. That clay gave me determination. It made me feel like I was worth something, and that I could do anything I dreamed of doing. It was a life-changing target.
After that first practice, I was hooked. Not only did I go to every 4-H practice, but I also started practicing by myself. I would shoot every box available, no matter how many it turned out to be by the end of practice. My parents begged me to save shells for next time. Of course, practice makes perfect, and I KNEW I wanted to compete in shotgun. After practicing for about a month or so, we started going to small, local competitions. I would go to every competition, every weekend, if time and money allowed. I loved it.
Then, I was introduced to the top shooters, or Master Class Shooters in NSCA (National Sporting Clay Association) talk. They talked about their trips to the biggest competitions across the United States, and I was blown away by their achievements and skill. I kept practicing and practicing, making wonderful new friends and learning things along the way. I have made all of my best friends in this sport, and I wouldn’t trade them for anything. I have several close friends that give their absolute all to make sure I reach my dreams, and I love them all and cherish them so, so much. After about a year of practicing, we started going to bigger, better competitions. Attendance to these events went from 50 to 100, to 400 and up in the thousands.
From Sporting Clays to American Trap, my dad would take me to every competition on the East Coast to fuel my fire for shotgun sports. After competing in every American shotgun sport available, in February of 2018, we discovered the game of Bunker Trap, or Olympic Trap. In this game, you compete with people from across the world, instead of only the United States. In March of 2018, my father and I traveled to an International Trap event in Dalmatia, Pennsylvania, at one of the only world-class Bunker Trap facilities in the United States. When we arrived, we planned to only watch the shooters and learn from them. After we had met the head coach, he invited me to shoot with his team there, and I gladly accepted. When the shoot was over and they were announcing the trophies, the head coach stated, “And, the winner of the Gold medal in Ladies division … I cannot believe I’m saying this … Makayla Scott of White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, in her first Bunker Trap Tournament.”
After competing in almost every discipline, from 4-H level of competition to the Junior Olympics, I’ve learned a whole different level of discipline, and the importance of grit and hard work. After learning hard lessons early in life through adversity, I’ve learned to overcome and CRUSH whatever problem lies in my way. After that first day with my 4-H club, and all the stuttering and stumbling, I unleashed the true confidence to finally be me. I have always had my fair share of hard times in my shooting, but I know I will always overcome them, and with my faith in God and my true family, now I know I can. For any young kids OR ADULTS looking for something to completely change your life, you should definitely give shooting sports a try.