By Barbara Baird, Women’s Outdoor News
Kassidy Groeper isn’t your typical teenager from the Midwest. In fact, this 16-year old from Williamsfield, Ill., is making a name for herself in the International Trap world – and competing against some of the most famous shooters in the world in the process.
Anne Mauro, vice-president at Syren USA, said,”Kassidy is an exceptional young lady and I believe she is what Syren is all about.”
Kassidy took some time to answer our questions, and we think you’ll be as impressed as we are with her attitude. We also think you’ll shake your head in disbelief as you discover how she supports her shooting expenses.
Barbara: How’d you come to the shooting sports and more importantly, why? What is your discipline of competition?
Kassidy: I started shooting my dad’s .22 rifle when I was just 4-years old. It was one thing I loved more than anything else. My brother, sister, dad and I would all go out on our deck and shoot at hickory nuts on a tree. I got to where I was a pretty decent rifle shot with anything from a .22 up to the .50-cal. black powder muzzle loader.
I was scared of shotguns until I was about 11 and did not get started in shotgun shooting until I was 12. I got into shotgun shooting kinda by accident; I was playing in a summer softball league in 2012 when my dad overheard a family friend talking to another father about seeing if their daughter would like to try out trapshooting. My dad thought that I would enjoy it and I attended the youth league the very next week. I joined the Amateur Trapshooting Association (ATA) and Academics Integrity Marksmanship (AIM) the next year and began shooting at local clubs.
My family has always been very active in target shooting on our own, but I am the first one to compete in the shooting sports. I tried the wobble event at the 2013 AIM Grand Nationals in Sparta, Ill., and immediately fell in love with it. I discovered that there was a discipline that was like wobble, except much harder. I am always up for a challenge and thought that it sounded like a blast.
Intro To International Trap
I first tried International trap in February 2014, joined USA Shooting and attended my first match that May. Out of all of the disciplines I have tried, I have the most fun in International trap. I now compete all over the country in that discipline.
Shooting is the one sport where the youngest competitor at the match is going up against the most veteran shooter. There are a lot of people who consider shooting as a male-dominated sport, but I believe it is something the women can do just as well as the men. As one of the younger ones in this discipline, I have had the privilege of getting to know some of the more experienced shooters. There are not many other sports out there that you are able to know the veterans on a personal level. It is such a small community that is very welcoming to newbies. I know I was welcomed with open arms when I started.
Barbara: How’d you find out about Syren’s shotguns? Tell us about the model you shoot and why.
Kassidy: A family friend introduced me to Syren just a couple months ago. I researched Syren and its firearms and immediately thought that I could get along great with one. I am currently shooting the Syren Tempio Sporting.
The average shotgun is made to fit a male and that body type; Syren has accomplished making a shotgun for women specifically. The fit of the gun allows women to shoot comfortably with the correct form. My previous gun had to have the stock cut as well as adjustments to the comb.
When I first mounted the Syren, it fit perfectly right out of box. The line of shotguns that Syren has put out is designed for women through and through – everything from the shortened stock and smaller grip down to the beautiful engraving. I love the smooth, balanced swing I am now able to obtain with the Syren.
Barbara: It sounds like you’re a natural at the shooting sports. What qualities have helped you achieve this degree of success?
Kassidy: I believe I have many qualities that have helped me in getting me where I am today. I think of myself as a hardworking determined individual who is not afraid of getting her hands dirty. Where some people frown and complain at the thought of hard work, I want more of it. It pains me to sit at home and not do anything. I think this has helped me in training for shooting. I am motivated to achieve my goals and have a plan to accomplish them. I am a very diligent and patient worker. I care about my training and my performances, but I also understand that transformations do not happen overnight. They require much effort and patience.
Barbara: Syren’s vice president, Anne Mauro, mentioned that you have been creative when raising funds for shotgunning. Would you care to tell us some of the ways you’ve raised money so that you can compete in the sport?
Kassidy: Something that I have always held myself accountable for is paying for as much as I could within my shooting, whether that be buying a new gun or going to a match. I raised funds in a multitude of ways.
• I first started by helping out with cattle chores at my grandfather’s farm and selling my raccoon furs to a fur buyer. Once the prices dropped off, I decided I better come up with a better, more efficient way [to make money].
• I then moved on to junking scrap metal, as well as catching and selling night crawlers to a local store.
• I would be in the garage for hours on end disassembling A/C units to separate all of the precious metals from the less valuable ones. It was not easy work and it scarred my arms and hands up pretty bad, but that is now just a reminder of how much work I have put in.
I would tear junk apart by day and catch night crawlers by night. I would go out at about 8 at night and come in sometimes as late as 3 in the morning. I would package up a dozen worms into containers and sell them to the local store for fishing bait. It was not the most luxurious way of getting funds, but I did whatever I had to do.
I have since stopped the worm business, but still continue to tear junk apart — even with the low prices – as well as continue to do chores for my grandfather. Now, I am raising bucket calves for the upcoming year’s expenses. I currently have 14 calves of my own and 60 head of cattle of my grandfather’s that I tend to and care for.
Barbara: What tournaments have you competed in lately?
Kassidy: This year alone, I have attended many matches across the country. In April, I went to Ft. Benning, Ga., for Spring Selections; in May I traveled to Hillsdale, Mich., for Michigan State Junior Olympics; also in May I made the trip to Pacific, Mo., to shoot in the Missouri State Junior Olympics. This past summer I traveled to Colorado Springs, Colo., twice: once for Nationals in June and once for the National Junior Olympic Championships in July. I got back just recently from Olympic Trials Part I/Fall Selections that were held in Tucson, Ariz.
Barbara: What is your goal for the shooting sports?
Kassidy: My short term goals are to land a college scholarship for shooting, as well as to be named to the National Junior Team. My long-term goals are to attend World Cups and be named to an Olympic Team in the future.
Barbara: How much do you practice?
Kassidy: My father and I make the trek down to Pacific, Mo., to shoot on their bunker about twice a month. This is the nearest range and it clocks in at nearly 4 hours away. I shoot on my DryFire simulator as much as I can squeeze into my schedule. If I could shoot all day, I would, but as a junior in high school, my schedule does not allow that.
Barbara: Your family? How do they support you?
My mother, Teresa, is a nurse at one of the local hospitals (about an hour away). She somehow figures out a way to schedule the days she works around my matches so she is able to go and watch me shoot. My father, Russell, is the maintenance director at my school. He always finds a way to take me to practice, to matches, and is always there for me good or bad.
My sister, Kyli, is going to college to become a Biology teacher. She does not attend many matches, but I understand. She still supports me and what I do. She is always there if I need to call her and complain about something at a match or if I am just having a rough day and need to vent. My brother, Dalton, is serving our country as a member of the United States Army Infantry. He always sends me good luck texts and wishes me well. He always makes my day better when he texts me and that helps boost my confidence and morale tremendously during matches.
barbara: What else do you want people to know about you?
Kassidy: I am an avid hunter here in the Midwest. If there is a season for it, I am hunting it. I go after geese, whitetail deer, turkeys, squirrels, raccoons, coyotes and dove. I am most passionate about my deer hunting because the feeling you get when you walk out never gets old. I share countless hunting memories with my father, as well as my brother – whether it’s of my brother walking back to the truck with a squirrel in his hand that he shot with his bow, my dad and I stalking a 3-legged doe for 170+ yards, or taking down a deer with my .357, our memories are something that I will cherish forever.
Future Farmers of America (FFA) is one of my greatest passions outside of shooting or hunting. FFA is a national student organization for those interested in agriculture and leadership. FFA has helped me grow as a person and a leader, and has given me a great base for career success in the agriculture field. It also has helped me with my people skills and has made me more outgoing. I am no longer shy and am confident in my ability of meeting new people and building relations with those people.
I love to tend to cattle on my grandfather’s farm. I do cattle chores after I get out of school everyday and on the weekends as well. I enjoy caring for anything from the newborn calf up to the 2,000-pound bull. It is not about brute strength with getting these animals to cooperate; it is about finesse and knowing your way around the animal. You cannot be afraid of the animal, however; you must respect its strength and what is capable of.