Interview: Becky Yackley – Wife, Mother of Three, and Champion Shooter
Outdoor Hub Staff 09.21.16
Editor’s note: This exclusive OutdoorHub interview is one of a many focusing on the amazing females who are challenging society’s norms and breaking down gender barriers in the process. Dianna Liedorff-Muller is one of three diehard shooters featured in CarbonTV’s “Women Who Shoot” online special (below).
This original “Women Who“ series explores a woman’s take on typically male-dominated pursuits. Whether it’s shooting, hunting or farming, these women make no apology for who they are and aim to inspire the same passion in others.
OHUB: Your whole family is passionate about the shooting sports, correct?
Becky: Yes, my entire family shoots. I grew up shooting highpower rifle and smallbore rifle. My husband and I met on the rifle team in college, and our boys are now 18, 16, and 12. The eldest, Tim, has won the Bianchi Cup as a junior the past 2 years, he has “world championship” titles at the Trijicon and NRA World Shooting Championships, a bronze medal from IPSC Shotgun World Shoot, and won Single Stack Nationals Junior title this year as well.
OHUB: Were you introduced to firearms and shooting at an early age? And when did you begin competing?
Becky: My first memory of shooting a gun was being with my dad when he was sighting in a rifle for deer hunting. I think I was about 4. He sat on a chair behind me, and I stood and he helped me shoot. He taught us a healthy respect for the power in a firearm, and I think it’s important for kids to know that guns are not “scary” but they ARE powerful and need to be respected. I began shooting competitions with an M-14, shooting Service Rifle on our state highpower team and on the junior two-man team at Camp Perry in summer, and then shot smallbore rifle at a club level.
OHUB: Which is your favorite shooting discipline? And in your opinion, at which one are you the most skilled?
Becky: What’s my favorite? All of them! I’m actually working on a year-long series on competition shooting for Guns America, and the thing that really hits me as I send each one off to my editor is that we have so many people who value the freedoms Americans have, and so many people passionate about the discipline or piece of shooting they are a part of. If I had to pick a favorite, it is pistol . . . or shotgun . . . but rifle, too . . . does that help? (This is why 3-gun is perfect for me!) I was on the USA Ladies Standard Team for IPSC Shotgun World Shoot last year, and that really helped me focus on shotgun. We won the gold medal, but the thing I loved the most about it all was that I never considered myself much of a shotgun shooter. In fact, I hardly shot one much until 2012. Pistol is right up there as my favorite, too, because growing up a rifle shooter, I wasn’t so fond of the short sight radius and lack of 20-some inches of barrel. But I hold a national record in NRA Action Pistol on the Bianchi Moving Target, and I tied the record in the Falling Plates event this year. I won the 2016 Bianchi Cup ladies national title in Metallic division, and I’ve had some USPSA Area Championship finishes I’m proud of. And rifle . . . well, let’s just say that growing up and starting my shooting career with rifle, I LOVE shooting long range and difficult offhand shots that we see in matches like Blue Ridge Mountain 3-Gun and Rocky Mountain 3-Gun. I finished high lady at both of those last year, and won the Brownell’s lady’s shoot-off at Rocky Mountain the last 2 years. So I’m kinda fond of rifle, and my eldest and I are planning on attending the world shoot for rifle next year in Russia.
OHUB: Your husband was a Marine, and we thank him – and you! – for your family’s service to this country. When/where/how did you meet, and did he shoot competitively before you?
Becky: We met in college, on the rifle team. He shot smallbore and air rifle before college, too. Our team at Marquette University was strong, with us, and then Marybeth Larson (Woman’s Pentathlon) and Mike Douglass (Men’s Free-pistol) – both of them went to the Olympics in Sydney in those disciplines. So the level of shooting we were doing back then wasn’t just plinking! I’ve been fortunate enough to attend training and competitions at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, and it’s taught me what a small world the shooting sports truly is.
OHUB: The following quote has been attributed to you: “People have been really supportive of women participating in shooting competitions. You’re the oddity, but in a good way.” Can to elaborate?
Becky: No matter how many women shoot competitions, they’re still the minority. And you’re odd because you’re not male, plain and simple. There’s the periodic overly macho guy who doesn’t like women on the range, but for the most part, people treat you well. When people don’t know anything about you, they tend to stereotype and act like you might not know where to stand when you take a video or picture for another shooter, but those guys get more and more rare with each match you shoot. And the good part about being the oddity is that you’re teaching people who should want to see the numbers of gun owners grow that there is a segment of the population they’re missing.
Just don’t be the woman who shows up and expects others to reset targets and paste; be the woman the guys know can kick their ass. One of the most rewarding matches I’ve ever shot, there were a couple of guys who showed up the second day of the match and shot through (meaning they just shot their stages and moved on; didn’t reset and stay with a squad), and they came to our stage, early morning, pushed their way to the front so the light wasn’t in their eyes . . . we all just let them do their thing. I was really happy beating the one who was most obnoxious on that stage because he missed the spot where you had to plop down in the mud and had a better shot. His being such an ass only motivated me more. But that’s not really a guy or girl thing, in all honesty, people who can’t see past gender are just limiting themselves. And we see that inability to see past things in this sport. We see if with this or that organization that treats women like nobody wants to watch them shoot, only to get upset when another entity sees the value and knocks it out of the park.
But that’s life – you can look at an oddity as something you don’t care about because it’s not in your wheelhouse, or you can build a bigger wheelhouse. When the women coming into this sport start building wheelhouses because the men can’t see past their own confines, that’s when you hear phrases like “gender barriers.” From the inside, it’s like hearing “people with lack of vision.” The only barriers are the ones they make up or pretend exist because they have other goals in mind. I think any barriers seem to get bigger when someone sees they lack vision and they become jealous.
Women do get undue attention, sure, but often it’s not about the skill Suzy so-and-so has, but about her passion or vision. Guys have a handicap in that they are sort of all in one box: guys who shoot guns. So to stand out, they have to work harder. Women sometimes just have to show up. I’m not saying I like that, or that I think it’s right, but it’s a fact. And when the women who just show up lack skill or are entitled, that’s when the guys get upset and narrow-minded. So I think really seeing the differences that women or junior shooters hold and working to build from them vs. put them against the guys is key.
OHUB: What is your conceal carry gun of choice?
Becky: I have a Ruger LCP .380 and Glocks (17, 19, 34). If you shoot a Glock for 4 years, you learn that it eats anything, you shoot them in the dark in a shoot-house, you learn how to clear malfunctions – it’s all automatic and that’s what I want, to have my mind free to think about what’s going on, not to have to think about how to use the gun.
OHUB: In addition to shooting, do you enjoy hunting? Do your husband and kids hunt?
Becky: We do hunt! Deer, small game, and last January we were lucky enough to hunt ducks with the guys from Mojo TV. That was amazing! I think I like duck hunting best because you can talk and joke. When I was a kid, we were deer hunting with my dad’s friend, Geno, from Columbia. I sat with him while some others did a drive one day, and he nicknamed me “Broadcast” because I talked too much. I would MUCH rather laugh and talk in a duck blind, shoot like crazy, and then talk some more vs. having to silent all day.
OHUB: You were recently featured in CarbonTV’s “Women Who Shoot” series along with Niki Jones and Dianna Liedorff-Muller. What was it like working with them?
Becky: Working with Di and Niki was great. I’ve known Di for several years, but had only met Niki in passing. She isn’t as serious a competitor as Di and me, so her perspective on things was fun to see. We filmed after I’d been to the NRA Show, and driving to compete at Bianchi Cup for a week with my boys, then drove them from Missouri to Wisconsin, and drove myself to Oklahoma, so I was pretty beat when we filmed the episode with CarbonTV.
OHUB: Final question: If you could take part in only one more outdoor adventure, where would you go, what would you do, and who would join you?
Becky: If I could do one thing outside, I would want to either climb a mountain and ski down it, or be dropped off in the middle of nowhere and make my way back. My eldest two boys and I are all PSIA certified ski instructors, and so when we can ski, the eldest and I will go as high as we can. On our way to SHOT Show 2 years ago, we got to the top of the Continental Divide in Colorado and then skied down. Perfection!
I like being out away from people, too, and growing up camping for vacations, and cooking crawfish and fish we caught, and that we’d just go off the grid for a few days was great, and I’d love to do that more. As for who I would bring . . . probably my middle son, Sean, because he complains the least. I think there’s a beatitude in the Bible for that: “The least complaining shall find adventure.”