Desirae Edmunds: From Anchorage To Savannah

Powerhouse sporting clays competitor Desirae Edmunds is the only woman to win the NSCA Championship Tour Ladies title six consecutive times.

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posted on May 21, 2024
Desiedmundsinterview 9
Desirae Edmunds won the 2023 Winchester Ladies Cup Nationals High Over All title, also garnering third place in the annual Ladies Cup points race.
Photo by Lefty Ray Outdoor Photography

Desirae Edmunds is one of the top women sporting clays shooters in the world. Her list of accomplishments is long and impressive. She has been a member of the Ladies’ All-American team nine times and served five times as team captain. In addition, she has been named to the Team USA Ladies’ Team a total of 15 times.

Edmunds, who resides in Savannah, Georgia, has won just about every major women’s title in sporting clays, including National Sporting Clays Association (NSCA) Championship Tour Ladies Champion, U.S. Open Ladies’ Champion and World Sporting Ladies’ Champion. She also stood on the podium multiple times at the World Sporting Championships and the World FITASC Championships.

Desi Edmunds
A member of Team Winchester and a brand ambassador for Beretta USA, Desirae Edmunds has won nearly every major women’s title in sporting clays competition. (Photo by Maggie Kelch)

 

Edmunds grew up in Anchorage, Alaska, and as a child she was involved in several different sports, including horseback riding. When she was 14, a horseback riding friend told Edmunds that she wanted to try shooting because her brother shot sporting clays and it looked like fun. She convinced Edmunds to join her and take a youth shooting course offered by the Alaska Department of Fish & Game. In the course, they provided guns, ammunition and targets. Not only did Edmunds discover the basics of shooting in that course, she also learned how to clean a gun and received her hunter safety education certification—all skills that she still uses today.

Edmunds said the experience was so much fun that she and her friend decided to keep shooting and joined a weekly league at a local gun club. They shot a round of trap, a round of skeet and a round of five-stand each week in the frigid Alaska winter.

“Oh my gosh, it was so cold. We had all these clothes on. We could barely mount the gun. But I just had fun and I enjoyed the people. So, we did that league and then I started competing locally. There’s just one club out there that had registered tournaments,” she said.

Desi Edmunds with shotgun
A high school basketball and volleyball player, not long after a friend persuaded her to attend a shooting course in her native Alaska, Desirae Edmunds was bit by the competitive shooting bug. (Photo by Lefty Ray Outdoor Photography)

 

Despite the cold, Edmunds enjoyed shooting and it soon evolved into a full-time hobby. She started travelling to tournaments and along the way, she competed in the NSCA’s National Championships, where she became friends with another shooter, Zachary Keinbaum, who was from California. Edmunds said she decided to move to California to attend college and to work at a gun club while she was in school.

“My now boyfriend, Zachary Keinbaum, was living there and working at the gun club. And they had an extra room at the house on the beach. I thought, okay, I’m going to move to California. I’m going to live on the beach, I get to work at the gun club. This sounds awesome, right? So, I worked at the gun club, going through college,” she added.

In 2012, Edmunds and Keinbaum moved to Houston and began their competitive shooting careers. Both have excelled in the world of sporting clays.

After living in Texas for seven years, they decided it was time to become homeowners and began looking around for a place to settle down. For several reasons, they chose Savannah, Georgia.

“We wanted something a little bit quieter. We also found ourselves always going east for tournaments in Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas. We had been teaching in Savannah for three years prior to moving there and we fell in love with it,” she said.

Desi Edmunds & Zach Kienbaum
Desirae Edmunds and her boyfriend, Zach Kienbaum, have both earned numerous sporting clays accolades during their careers. (Photo by Maggie Kelch)

 

After four years, she said they still enjoy living in the area and teaching lessons at Forest City Gun Club. One aspect of the club that she enjoys is youth involvement.

“They have a great kids program that shoots SCTP and a solid high school program. There are many kids, not just in Savannah, but the surrounding region, that are really hungry for lessons,” she added.

Today, Edmunds makes her living competing and teaching sporting clays to youth and adults. She is a member of Team Winchester, as well as a brand ambassador for Beretta USA. Her sponsors also include Barepelt, Clay Target Vision and the Kids & Clays Foundation.

For sporting clays, she shoots a Beretta A400 XL semi-automatic. She used to shoot a Beretta DT11 over-under, but went back to shooting a semi-automatic to prevent flinching issues associated with recoil.

And, she still utilizes the hunting knowledge that she gained while taking that course in Alaska many years ago. Today, she enjoys hunting upland game and waterfowl and likes to shoot a semi-automatic Beretta 28-gauge Magnum in the field. She also has a 12-gauge Beretta A300 that she uses for hunting and an A400 Plus for when she is shooting heavier loads for snow geese.

While she remains primarily a sporting clays shooter (and FITASC), Edmunds said she still dabbles in trap and skeet occasionally. On her bucket list is a trip to the Grand American World Trapshooting Championship and some of the larger trapshooting events just to experience them.

Desi Edmunds shooting 5-stand
At the 2024 Jack Link’s Cup, Edmunds posted a podium finish in the Ladies Main Event and was the preliminary runner-up. (Photo by Maggie Kelch)

 

So, as one of the top women sporting clays shooters in the world, what else is on her bucket list? What goals does she set for herself? Not surprisingly, Edmunds had several answers.

“I think I always have short-term goals, right? Each year, it’s tournament by tournament, making the All-American team, making Team USA, those are always on the list. For me, it’s about consistency. That is a big goal, in general, just being relevant and staying up there,” she said.

She also has her eyes on capturing a World FITASC title, something Edmunds hasn’t accomplished yet.

“That’s definitely at the top of the list for me—to win a World FITASC,” she added.

As a woman shooter and ambassador, Edmunds also sees an opportunity to have a greater impact on the shooting sports.

“Another goal of mine is to pave the way for younger women, and for women in general, as well as for kids and new shooters. Just pave the way and try and create new things in the sport that will attract people to shooting. I think as shooters we all want to see it grow,” Edmunds said.

Desirae Edmunds photos
At the 2023 NCSA South Central Regional, Edmunds secured the FITASC Ladies title by a five-target margin. (Photos by Maggie Kelch, Don Brunt Double Barreled Picture Co.)

 

Being a member of Team Winchester has given her an opportunity to help provide a new opportunity for women shooters through the Winchester Ladies Cup. Launched in 2021, the Winchester Ladies Cup provides additional money committed by Winchester Ammunition to help boost the winners’ earnings within the Lady class and encourage increased participation from a broader group of shooters.

“The program has been great. And we basically did it, one, to recognize the women who are already shooting in this sport, to recognize their hard work and reward them for their success. The other goal was to promote participation and create this PR. To create this view for women to say, look, women are getting recognized for their successes and their hard work. They’re working towards something, there’s something to work towards. It’s been a huge success,” Edmunds said.

Through the Winchester Ladies Cup, an additional $5,000 is split among the top three lady shooters with the highest cumulative scores at each of the eight NSCA Championship Tour events. Then, $10,000 in additional prize money is awarded to the three lady shooters with the highest cumulative scores for the entire season.

Last year, Edmunds won the Winchester Ladies Cup event at the NSCA Nationals in San Antonio, Texas, in October (which had more than 250 lady shooters) and finished third for the entire season.

Desi Edmunds at NSCA match
Desirae Edmunds competed at her first NSCA Nationals in 2004 and first U.S. Open in 2005. (Photo by Lefty Ray Outdoor Photography)

 

Helping to introduce youth and women to shooting sports is certainly one of Edmund’s passions. She shared her advice for anyone thinking about picking up a shotgun for the first time.

“I would say, one, enjoy yourself and have fun. That is why we’re out here. This is an expensive sport. In terms of shotgun shooting, it’s important to ask yourself what your goal is when you first start shooting. Do you just want to get more proficient at shooting? Do you want to end up competing? Are you looking to hunt? And those are the questions you need to answer in order to know what path to go down,” she said.

If you’re just looking to have some fun, Edmunds suggests finding a local instructor to receive advice on how to mount and some of the fundamentals. If you’re looking to get into the competitive side of shooting, she advises doing a little more research on instructors to make sure that you get set up on the right foot.

With the beginning of a new shooting season just underway, Edmunds is on her way to meet her goals for the year and hopefully to help some new shooters along the way.

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