[This is the second in a series of interviews with Becca Spinks (part one here), competitive shooter, run-and-gunner, security guard, private investigator, instructor, and mom.]
ED: Okay, this is an important interview for our women readers. Let’s talk about being a mother and being a competitive shooter who is in serious training for run-and-gun as well.
RS: It’s a matter of how you juggle. Obviously, my daughter is still too young to come to the range with me. I love seeing people out there with their kids. I went to a major match last year and there was a little girl, probably 6, who was being very well minded by everyone there. She had on her ear and eye protection and was just sitting on a bench playing with her iPad or coloring. But when it was time to shoot, she was out there taping targets for us. I thought that was super cool.
I can’t wait until my daughter is old enough to learn that, to come out there and learn about and experience the sport. They’re having fun, and kids are really interested in what their parents are doing. So if she decides that she wants to compete and chooses that, obviously, I’m all for it. If she chooses to be a dancer instead, I’m all for that, too. I would like to introduce her to competitive shooting at an early age and see if that’s something she would want to do.
ED: Can you talk about work/life balance in terms of finding the time? I’ve found that when I talk to women about why they don’t train more, a big part of it is that they don’t know how to create training time, having kids and families.
RS: Listen. I’m a single mom with a full-time job and two part time jobs. I make it happen. I get up early and knock out my workout. When I can’t make it to the range, I put targets on my fence outside so I can go upstairs, open the window, and practice rifle transition drills.
I took paper plates and cut out circles and made little popper shapes and put them on my walls upstairs to simulate steel, and I’ll get out my pistol and practice dry fire. I do drills at home that will help me improve at the range.
I won’t lie – it’s a struggle to find care for my daughter for the matches that I shoot. Luckily for me, I have a support system. A lot of women don’t. My mom, dad, and sister love to watch her for a few hours while I go shoot. I literally give each of them the dates for the first half of the year up front and let them choose which ones they want, since they all want to see her more. I have those dates scheduled in advance – I already know what matches I’m shooting, because I’ve taken the time to plan it out and say that this is when I need help. That’s how I’ve made it work for me.
Also, I’m lucky to have a range close to my workplace. I’m not ashamed to make a messy target. I’ll do single handed shots, practice one handed, practice from low ready, practice double taps. I can do all that at my local indoor range on my lunch break. When I have a little extra time – I try to do this at least once every other week – I go to the outdoor range during the workday. I get to work early, take a longer lunch, practice whatever I need to, and come back.
I work out twice a day, 5 or 6 days a week, right now because I don’t have big blocks of time to go to the gym during the day. I split it up so that I do strength training during lunch and maybe a little cardio after work. I’ll back off in the off season. I’ve always been a fitness minded person, so it’s natural for me to work out anyway. I squeeze in range time around my workouts so that I don’t miss a workout either.
It’s really about what you value and what’s most important to you. On the days I don’t shoot, I spend literally every free moment with my daughter. I plan it out. I’m a planner, as you can tell. When I’m planning my matches, I look at how much time I have left that day so I can take her to do something fun for the rest of that day. Those two things are very, very important to me.
My daughter is obviously the most important thing in my life, and shooting comes after that. My career is in line with shooting. I’m lucky, also, that my workplace knows that I do this and is very supportive. We live in Texas. If there are any naysayers out there, they keep their mouths closed. They support me and work with me when I request time off to travel to matches and such.
I have a career, a mortgage, daycare, just like everyone else. It IS possible. It’s all about what you value, what’s important to you. And it’s a sliding scale. You get to choose how involved you become in the shooting sports. It isn’t an all or nothing type of deal. If you want to come out every weekend, and you have the time and resources, that’s awesome! If you want to come out once or twice a year just to check your proficiency, that’s also great.
ED: The reason I think it’s important to hear from someone like you is that inspiration really helps women. It means a lot to women to see another woman actually out there doing it.
RS: Absolutely it does. There’s a very close friend of mine who recently had a baby. She started working out, eating healthy to lose the baby weight. She posted a picture of herself looking amazing and I commented on how awesome the photo was. Her reply was that I was one of her sources of inspiration and that she hoped she could run and gun with me some day.
To me, that was the biggest compliment I could get, was knowing that I could make a change in someone else’s life by putting my own life out there, into the media or in other ways. That’s where social media comes in. Without social media, it would be only word of mouth. With social media, people can actually see what I’m doing, see me shooting, see me practicing, watch me run stages.
There are a lot of people who say, “I wanna go out there and shoot, I wanna try it.” Honestly, very few of the people who ever say that will actually do it. But it’s important to me that people are actually seeing it and being inspired. I like that word – inspiration.
ED: It’s something that we’re going to talk about in a different interview – how women become intimidated and fearful of being judged. I think that for women, seeing a woman who has gone ahead of them into it, who has obviously endured all of those fears and is out there doing it, progressing, and doing great, helps them realize that it’s not that big a deal.
RS: It’s not. When I’m trying to get new shooters out there to a match, I’ll call it that – a match. I won’t call it a competition. A match provokes more of a feeling of fun, like a game or a tennis match. I emphasize that you’re a new shooter who is just out here to learn how to shoot better, and if you want to keep going, compete against yourself.
This is an individual sport, just as golf is an individual sport. You go out there to improve your skills and be the best you can be at it. I don’t like it when women feel pressured to perform at a specific level. As long as you’re performing at the top of what you’re capable of, you’re doing something. You’re making a difference in your proficiency. And, you’re meeting people and having fun.
ED: I think that’s something we need to emphasize more: All of this is super fun, ladies!
RS: It’s super fun! There’s cute guys out there…I’m telling ya!
ED: Thanks, Becca! Looking forward to next time!
Follow Becca on Instagram: @bxbullet or on Facebook: facebook.com/bxbullet (Becca Spinks – Competitive Shooter)