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Hunter’s Handbook is the official student “how-to” information pipeline of the International Hunter Education Association. As the experts in teaching safe, ethical and successful hunting, we are here to provide tips, tools, and great video content as well as offer you a place that you can learn more about your love and favorite past-time—hunting.  Spend some time with us.  New content is added monthly, and we are excited to share our expertise with you.  We wish you a lifetime of safe and memorable experiences in the outdoors.

Syd vicious on the skeet field

Sydney Carson couldn’t have asked for a better first trip overseas.

As a member of the USA Shooting Team that competed in the International Shooting Sports Federation (ISSF) Junior World Cup in Suhl, Germany last summer, Carson not only left her first international match with a gold medal in Skeet, but the confidence required for her next major competition—the ISSF World Championship in Granada, Spain.

“In the Final, I shot and I didn’t think about it or what anyone else was shooting, and when it was done, I looked over and saw I had the second-highest score and I was like ‘Oh my gosh, I’m in the gold medal round!’ It was crazy to me! At that point it was like I had come this far, I can do this and that’s what I told myself. People were telling me I’d come home with a medal so just shoot my best, but I was like ‘No, I’m going to come home with gold.’”

syd vicious on the skeet field

Sydney Carson couldn’t have asked for a better first trip overseas.

As a member of the USA Shooting Team that competed in the International Shooting Sports Federation (ISSF) Junior World Cup in Suhl, Germany last summer, Carson not only left her first international match with a gold medal in Skeet, but the confidence required for her next major competition—the ISSF World Championship in Granada, Spain.

In the Final, I shot and I didn’t think about it or what anyone else was shooting, and when it was done, I looked over and saw I had the second-highest score and I was like ‘Oh my gosh, I’m in the gold medal round!’ It was crazy to me! At that point it was like I had come this far, I can do this and that’s what I told myself. People were telling me I’d come home with a medal so just shoot my best, but I was like ‘No, I’m going to come home with gold.’

It’s with that fortitude that Carson, 18, would win that Junior World Cup and repeat it later again at the World Championship in September. Though she finished in fifth place individually, she and her Women’s Junior Skeet teammates would earn them the Junior World Team title in record-breaking fashion with a world-best score of 204 targets.

Known as “Syd Vicious” (not for an affinity of the musician of the same name, but rather a moniker she earned after shooting her first turkey at age 11) by friends, family and teammates, the bubbly Carson finds shooting to be relaxing. Not only is she travelling overseas as a member of the Junior National Team and fits in hunting when she can, the high school senior is looking at colleges, performs in an all-girl chorus and regularly performs in her school’s annual play and musical…all on top of training three hours a day.

“For me, it’s a huge stress reliever to be behind the gun doing something I love. I get a lot of enjoyment out of it and I like that you meet so many wonderful people from around the country,” she said. “I was about 12 when I learned about a skeet shooting team in my area and my dad asked me if I wanted to try it and it just kind of went from there. I like that it’s a unique sport. When someone asks what I do and I say ‘skeet shoot,’ they always say that’s really neat!”

Carson, who has been shooting since she was 12 years old, is looking at potentially attending Lindenwood University to study forensics, shoot in their collegiate program and hopefully further her Olympic dream.

“I think 2020 or 2024 there is definitely a chance I can get there if I work hard enough. I need more time behind the gun, practice, and any situation or shoot that makes me a better shooter and gives me more experience will definitely help.”

Books and Bull’s-Eyes

“Shooting is fun, and competing is an absolute thrill,” states Ashley Bolda, of Illinois. Ashley recently became a full-time college student, which is putting a bit of a kink in her thrill seeking: shooting competitively with a pistol.

Since age eight, Ashley has been shooting pistols and competing in matches. The now 20-year-old college student has become skilled enough with a pistol in her hand to earn the recognition—and dollars—of sponsors, which is pretty cool.

Ashley also loves to travel in pursuit of her love, and she’s shot her way competitively across the United States. “I have been traveling, practicing, and competing as far away as California. It was there that I was able to shoot in challenge matches, and I also had the honor of competing in the NSSF’s Rimfire Challenge.”

Recently placing third in the competition in the female division, Ashley plans to not only revisit the Rimfire Challenge next year, but also aspires to open a new page in her shooting career—entering (and winning) larger caliber pistol competition events. “Unfortunately, my dream of big caliber matches may take a little longer to fulfill than I would like with my education in full motion,” Ashley ruminates.

An average day for Ashley finds her and her customized .22-caliber Browning Buck Mark pistol on the range working closely with her coach, Mike Setting. She and Mike have taken on a new project as well…a path to her centerfire competitive dream—gunsmithing. Enjoying the technical and detailed gunsmith and customization process, Ashley and Mike take on this big chore together. “We started by tearing everything apart and rebuilt the 9mm, specifically so that it would fit my hands,” noted Ashley. “My coach did most of the gunsmithing himself, but I’m really enjoying learning all the ways to trick out my pistol as we go.”

Gunsmithing and competitive shooting are not hobbies of the feeble-minded or faint of heart. They are representative of real-life challenges, and Ashley is surely equipped to make the most of every minute from her experiences. “You have to go into competitive shooting events with an open mind because although you’ve spent a lot of time investing and preparing for everything, there will most likely be obstacles that you will have no control over,” continued Ashley. “The good news is that the people in this business and industry are so friendly and outgoing, and they will go out of their way to help you any way they can. It makes those obstacles easy to overcome.”

Ashley already is making plans for her next competition. And in her spare time she has written several articles about the experiences of shooting in the many competitions she enters—and the people she meets. Studying to be a pediatric speech pathologist, Ashley is grateful for everything she has. She finished our visit by thanking Brownell’s, Tactical Solution and Jagemann for sponsoring her and helping her fulfill her shooting dreams.