This year, 18-year-old Abbie Leverett of Bainbridge, Ga., expanded her name in the marksmanship community. Over the summer at the 2021 Camp Perry National Matches, she secured five High Junior titles at the Warm-Up, .22 Rimfire EIC (Excellence in Competition), .22 Rimfire (where she was also the overall High Civilian), EIC Service Pistol and National Trophy Individual pistol matches. Leverett was also the .22 Rimfire Pistol Junior Aggregate champion.
What makes the feat even more impressive it the fact it was only her second showing ever at the National Matches. “My brothers and I started shooting when I was five,” Leverett said. “I scarcely remember a time without it and have enjoyed it ever since.”
Her first Progressive Position Pistol (PPP) match, a program designed to introduce junior shooters to the sport of competitive pistol shooting, came in 2009 at just six years old. She competed alongside her two older brothers at the event, held at the air gun range at Camp Perry, which is now known as the Gary Anderson CMP Competition Center.
Twelve years later in 2021, Leverett and her family made the trip back to Ohio where, this time, she was motivated to excel on the firing line. “I had a great time, met new people and experienced new things,” she said of the trip. “The wonderful staff and fellowship of the other competitors made Camp Perry one of my favorite matches this summer.”
She especially enjoyed shooting alongside the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit, National Guard, Marines Corps and other service pistol teams. Although, Mother Nature tested her abilities in ways Leverett had never faced before. “[Camp Perry] itself is challenging due to changing weather conditions,” she said. “I shot without cover in the rain for the first time and also experienced shooting in gusty winds.”
Despite the difficult climate encounters, Camp Perry provides a great opportunity to connect with others who share the common interest of competitive shooting—something Leverett has been grateful to encounter.
“The hospitality of [match] staff and organization of the match draws people back year after year to compete,” she said. “A junior shooter and first-time competitor might be squadded between anyone, young or old, active duty or reserve military personnel, beginner or experienced competitor. I'm thankful to be involved in a sport that is accessible to competitors of all ages and backgrounds.”
She added, “Everyone was kind, supportive, and through their individual experiences were able to offer great advice.”
In October, Leverett earned Distinguished .22 Rimfire Pistol Badge No. 171. The badge is the highest honor available in the discipline. And the same month, she joined fellow National Junior Sport Pistol Team members Katelyn Abeln and Ada Korkhin on the international firing line with her Pardini Sport Pistol, earning silver in the 25-meter Precision and Rapid-Fire Pistol Women’s team event at the 2021 Junior World Championships in Lima, Peru, also finishing 11th overall in the individual event.
She says competing overseas is similar to competing stateside, with the only differences being distance, target size and the overall surroundings. Taking part in international matches allows her to experience what Leverett loves most about marksmanship, meeting fellow competitors and traveling, while also finding common ground in the most unique places.
“Through the years, I’ve discovered that nearly everyone you meet, regardless of where they are from or what language they speak, knows how to play the card game UNO,” Leverett joked. “Once a game is started, strangers passing by will stop and join in, making it the ideal pastime between matches.”
In the past, she competed at the ISSF Junior World Cup (2018) as a member of the 10-meter Air Pistol Women’s Team, 25-meter Sport Pistol and the 25-meter Standard Pistol Team (placing fifth overall). Leverett returned to the event in 2019, again competing in the latter two matches. After placing third at the 2018 National Junior Olympic Shooting Championship in Women’s Sport Pistol, the following year she secured the overall title by 23 points.
Be on the lookout for Abbie Leverett on the firing line in the future. “I have really enjoyed the camaraderie of the bullseye community and look forward to the 2022 National Matches.”
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