Her earliest memory of shooting is at the range with her dad. She was five years old, and he had his hands around hers as she shot a pistol. At eight years old she attended a pistol camp where she recalls shooting her dad’s Hi-Standard .22. Soon after that her parents bought Reya her own BB gun for shooting competitions, and it’s only grown from there.
By age nine, Reya began competing in BB gun. Her dad ran a junior club, so it was a natural sport for her to get involved in. It wasn’t long before she realized she could hold her own against boys who were several years older. That got her hooked!
Reya Kempley has come a long way since her BB gun days. In 2006 she was part of the World Championship Women’s Prone 300 meter Rifle Team that set a New World Record of 1776. Standing on the podium and hearing the national anthem with her teammates Nicole Allaire and Janet Raab was unforgettable. Being on the iconic stage at Camp Perry for NRA smallbore prone was always an honor as well, especially when she shot 3200s in irons and any sights, made Dewar and Randle Teams, and made the overall podium. Her grandfather shot at Camp Perry in the 1930s, so to continue that tradition was something special. Oh, there’s also the time she was on a Japanese reality show displaying her shooting skills.
For competition, Reya shoots a smallbore Anschutz 2013 with an aluminum stock, a Feinwerkbau 700 air rifle and a Stolle Panda with another Anschutz 2013 aluminum stock for 300 meters or midrange. Eley helps her out with excellent smallbore ammunition, for which she is extremely grateful. Reya has also shot M1 Garands in competitions, a Swedish M41B in vintage sniper rifle, an AR-15 in service rifle, .22 LR pistol in bullseye matches and a classic Remington 870 for trap. She loves to shoot!
Reya currently uses a rolling duffel from the 2016 Paralympics she purchased at the Olympic Training Center’s after-Olympics sale. It’s lightweight, yet tough enough for airline travel, and fits all of her gear. What she carries in her range bag depends on what type of competition she’s shooting. If you looked inside at any given time, you may find her diary, timer, spotting scope and stand, wind flag, shooting glove, eye and ear protection, hat and sweater, towel, shooting coat and pants, sling, boots, rifle stand for 3-P, ammunition, cleaning kit, and water.
As for Reya’s favorite accessory, that would be the wind flag she uses at NRA outdoor prone competitions. It’s homemade from a steel rod and a Styrofoam cup. She drew “nose art” on it which was inspired by the A-10 airplane. It shows up online often as it’s quite unique!
In her free time Reya loves to spend time outdoors. She likes to run, hike, garden, hunt, and fish. Her other hobbies include reading, baking, cooking, drawing, sewing, or any other project she comes up with! She used to fly airplanes, and hopes to again someday.
For those who have no experience with the world of shooting sports, Reya emphasizes how different it is likely to be from expectations based on movies. Precision shooting is more like golf, where a Zen state of mind is key. It’s also perhaps the most inclusive of all sports, because men and women can compete shoulder-to-shoulder on an equal footing. You don’t need to be big or especially strong physically to excel and have fun.
Reya recommends those interested in the shooting sports start with air rifle/pistol or smallbore. It’s easier to learn the basic skills without the kick and noise of recoil. Plus, the ammunition is much cheaper. Learn with someone who emphasizes safety and skill. Don’t ruin your idea of shooting with an elephant gun on your first day to the range!