Megan Hilbish has seen much success over her competitive shooting career with no signs of slowing down. This year, which was her first competing in the 300-meter rifle event, Hilbish won two International Shooting Sport Federation National Championship titles. Find out what she keeps in her range bag.
What are your first memories of handling a firearm?
I shot my first firearm while in preschool, so about four years old. I told my preschool teacher that I had to learn how to read to pass my Hunter’s Safety Education Course and go hunting with my father. I knew at a young age that shooting was something I really enjoyed and fell in love with it and being outdoors.
Tell us how you began in competitive shooting.
I started shooting competitions at the age of seven, which was the minimum age requirement at the time for 4-H Shooting Sports. From seven to 18 years old, I participated in the Lyon County, Iowa, 4-H Shooting Sports program. To this day, I volunteer as a certified rifle and archery instructor to give back to the program where I began my competitive shooting career many years ago. I began shooting BB guns, then sporter air rifles and 4-H smallbore, traditional muzzleloading, recurve and compound archery, shotgun, air pistol and smallbore pistol.
Please share with us some of your major shooting accomplishments.
This year, I was the first woman ever to represent the United States internationally at the ISSF World Championships in 300-meter standard rifle shooting three-position slow fire with a bolt-action centerfire rifle.
In my first year shooting 300-meter rifle, I won two USA Shooting National Championship titles—the 300-meter free rifle women’s prone and women’s three-position titles. I placed second at Nationals in the third event, which is standard rifle three-position and, per ISSF, is an open event, meaning that all competitors regardless of gender or age are combined. You must place in the top three at Nationals to qualify for the ISSF World Championships, and I was the only American woman to qualify in all three events.
I earned my Distinguished Rifleman badge No. 2569 in June 2022 in service rifle across-the-course by shooting in CMP Excellence in Competition matches across the Midwest. It was an honor to become Distinguished at my home range, where I earned my first points and “hard leg” one year prior. In 2016, I earned my Distinguished Expert badge in smallbore three-position shooting from the National Rifle Association. Additionally, while attending Emporia State University I was the 2018 NRA Intercollegiate National Champion for rifle shooting (smallbore three-position and precision air rifle standing).
What firearms and other gear do you use for competition?
I reload nearly all my competition ammunition for high power rifle matches, including the 300-meter World Championships. Fort Scott Munitions (Fort Scott, Kan.) has sponsored me with .223 Remington ammunition for practice and for local service rifle competitions.
Tell us about your range bag and what you carry in it besides your firearms?
It’s a shooting cart and range bag combo called the S3 Range Cart 2.0. Compact and lightweight, the S3 Range Cart 2.0 has enough storage for everything you could possibly need for shooting service rifle, match rifle, smallbore rifle or 300-meter rifle. In my range cart, I also carry a stress ball and a journal.
What do you do in your free time?
I’m a certified firearms instructor, and teach individual and small group shooting lessons and clinics. I also volunteer with Lyon County 4-H Shooting Sports, Twin Rivers Junior Shooting Sports and the Kansas State Rifle Association.
Any tips for new shooters?
Allow yourself to be a beginner. Everyone must start somewhere, and please do not think that shooting at the high level is as easy as it looks. Spending money on the best-of-the-best firearms, ammunition, optical or iron sights and equipment will only you get you so far. Remember to practice strategically with a purpose for every shot that you take—pick something to work on or to pay attention to, and don’t be afraid to try new things if what you’re currently doing isn’t working well.