The NRA National Smallbore Rifle Championships are jam-packed with determined young shooters, many competing over the course of 12 days. Akin to a marathon, the first week of the Smallbore Nationals features the same course-of-fire set on repeat; with the only differences being the sights (Iron or Any), and the type of target used (Metric or Conventional). Competitors choose which matches they want to compete in, be it just one match or for the duration of the championship. Naturally, those that are in it for the long haul want it all. One such competitor at this year’s centennial event was Malori Brown, the winner of the coveted Lones Wigger Iron Man award with a final score of 11,746-608X. (Brown is receiving the 2019 Iron Man belt buckle from NRA Competitive Shooting Division Director Cole McCulloch in the photo at the top of this article.)
You could say Ms. Brown is just your average teenager getting ready to start college in the fall, but that would be an understatement. Originally from China Spring, TX, this young lady has high hopes and she is more than capable of achieving them. Growing up hunting with her dad and shooting BB guns, she first started getting into competitive shooting when she was 11 years old. He belonged to a local gun club and suggested that she compete in a junior pistol match there. After winning second place at that match Brown was hooked. From that point on she was dragging her dad to all the matches.
Continuing to shoot through high school, she was a member of the Buckhorn Shooting team her freshman through junior years, subsequently joining the Texas Hill Country shooting club. Additionally, she is captain of the Texas State Rifle Association team, where her dad is still supporting her as the coach.
Modest about her shooting abilities, Brown always knew she wanted to continue shooting in college, but she had never considered where, least of all West Virginia University, since it boasts one of the best university rifle teams in the country. To her surprise, she was recruited by Coach Jon Hammond a year ago, and agreed to join without hesitation. Brown will begin her WVU rifle career this fall.
One of the range safety officers on the firing line commented on how a few years back at a the National Smallbore Rifle Championships there was a young woman named Ginny Thrasher—before she became an Olympian and gold-medal winner—who he had the pleasure to witness shooting.
Comparing Brown to Thrasher, he said, “She has the exact same stance and stature as Thrasher. Thrasher was an excellent shot even when she was young and Brown portrays the same potential.” He added how important breathing was when shooting competitively, and good shooters like Brown and Thrasher exhibit superior breath control and know how to complete a full breath cycle for every shot.
During the first week of the 2019 Smallbore Nationals, Brown won both the 3-Position Iron Sights and Any Sights Aggregates in Metric as well as the 3-Position Iron Sights Aggregate in Conventional—thus claiming the title for the overall winner of the 2019 National 3-Position Smallbore Rifle Championships. After receiving those awards, she had every intention of winning the Iron Man award this year.
“I’ve been trying to win it for the past few years so this year. I’d really like to get it,” said Brown.
And get it she did. From placing fifth last year to earning the Iron Man title this year, Malori Brown is not someone you will want to lose sight of in the next few years.
She added, “I plan to try to make it to the 2020 Olympics next year, but if I don’t, I’ll try for 2024.”
Keep your eyes peeled on the West Virginia University rifle team where you’ll see Brown earn her way to the top.
See more: Our 25 Favorite NRA National Smallbore Rifle Championship Photos From 2019