Any shooter competing in a major competition understands the amount of preparation required before he or she finally steps up to the line: The countless hours training, the workouts, gun tweaks, visits to the physio, the sports psychologist…all of the hard work that it takes. What many may not know, however, is the level of work that goes on behind the scenes to make sure that athlete can actually make it to the line.
Meet just a couple members of our “Team behind the Team,” Reya Kempley and Morgan Wallizer. The pair not only train as rifle and pistol athletes respectively, but also work on a part-time basis for USA Shooting as Operations Assistants and have both competed on World Championship teams (Kempley will also be shooting as a member of this year’s World Championship team). They, along with Director of Operations Dave Johnson, team coaches and others have worked tirelessly since early July to coordinate travel and logistics for the USA Shooting Team’s trip to the world’s largest shooting event: the ISSF World Championship September 8-20 in Granada, Spain.
Not only did Kempley and Wallizer have to figure out how to get 81 athletes (representing 37 states) and 16 staff members to a foreign city without a major airport, but how to get them, their firearms and ammunition and minors grouped with senior team members to Granada in time for each athlete’s specific events, but also make sure they all have enough time to get through customs with a firearm …
And that only takes care of the flights…one way.
“There’s a reason we picked every flight – we were coordinating between grouping different people and the price,” Kempley said, showing off an extensive spreadsheet she and Wallizer created, as well as pages upon pages of notes to organize team members by departure dates and locations so they could book airline tickets in chunks.
“And when you’re booking that many international plane tickets a month and a half out, flights sell out fast,” she said.
“Then it’s coordinating who is staying with who, who gets along with who and who’ll be there on the same days…we have to juggle and do what was best for the team,” Wallizer said. USA Shooting Team and staff will take up 55 hotel rooms for as many as 21 days.
While the pair was coordinating the details for this trip, they were also handling all of the travel and logistics all over again for three pre-World Championship training camps in Colorado Springs, Colorado and Fort Benning, Georgia.
“When you send out all of these emails, a lot of people just forget they’re one of 80-something. They’re not just one of one we have to coordinate,” Wallizer said. “Reya’s training to shoot in the World Championship and needs some sleep to make that training worthwhile, I have another job, we’re really not trying to make this difficult for athletes but it takes a lot of work.”
In addition to arranging shuttles from the airport in Malaga, Spain to Granada (a two-hour drive away), Kempley and Wallizer were also in charge of filling out gun forms for each athlete (which must be 100% accurate or an athlete may not be able to bring his/her gun into the country), arranging for TSA to allow air cylinders into airports, school letters for junior athletes, even distribution of team uniforms and coordination of who would transport ammunition. Each athlete is only allowed 11 pounds of ammunition per person. Kempley, for example, will shoot the Women’s 300m Rifle events, as well as Women’s 50m Prone. Her 300m ammunition weighs about two pounds per 50 rounds, and she’ll need 450 rounds to compete. She and Wallizer have arranged for athletes who don’t have such heavy ammo or luggage needs to help transport ammunition and team clothing.
“I never knew what went into putting these trips together when I was a junior (on a World Championship team),” Kempley said. “I’d wonder ‘Why do they have me making all of these stops?’ Now I know. At the time, I had no clue what went into putting these trips together.”
“I don’t know if people going on this trip know this is HUGE,” said Wallizer, who competed on the World Championship teams in 2002 and 2006. “You have to be in the top three in the country and you’re competing against the best in the world. Every country is doing the same thing we are so it’s not a small thing. We are trying to make it better for everyone but it’s going to be such a great experience.”
“You’re part of something really big,” Kempley added. “It’s a big deal and it’s exciting. Every trip I’ve been on I know is a big deal and I’m so grateful. How many people get to go to Spain? How many people never leave the country? It’s a really cool thing where you get to compete with everyone in the world and they’re all there for shooting. It’s really special.”
Taking the USA Shooting Team to the World Championship…by the numbers:
|75||# of flats of shotgun ammunition shipped directly to Spain|
|95||Avg # of hours each part-time employee worked on coordinating event|
|300||Avg amount in US dollars spent per athlete on entry fees|
|7||Avg # of days an athlete is on the ground|
|21||Longest number of days staff will be in Spain|
|55||# of hotel rooms USA Shooting team & staff will occupy|
|450||Avg price of a plane ticket for one training camp|
|1,400||Avg price in US dollars of an airline ticket to Spain|
|250||Avg price in bag fees for a rifle athlete|
|3,300||Avg $’s spent/athlete (incl. hotel, transportation, ammo & entry fees)|
Logo courtesy USA Shooting