Last updated on October 30th, 2017 at 09:23 pm
I have traveled to many matches over the last several years, and have met and watched some amazing shooters from all over the US and the world. And with the competitive shooting community being fairly close, it's pretty much a given that I'll see some of the same people wherever I go. So when I was down at the Berger Southwest Nationals this past February, I already had a good idea of who I was hoping to connect with while I was there.
One of those people was Anette Wachter, also known as the "30 Cal Gal", and in the shooting community, she really needs no introduction. But for those of you who aren't familiar with who she is, I'll just start by saying that this is one shooter who can hold her own, right along with the best. High Power Shooting is a mostly male dominated sport, but that has not stopped Anette from digging right in and making a name for herself. From becoming the first American woman ever to win the B.C. Rifle Championship in 127 years, to being a member of the United States National Rifle Team with 6 US National Team Championships, and 3 personal national records. Anette's list of accomplishments is quite impressive, but despite that, she's down to earth and very easy to talk to. Like anyone else, there's more than meets the eye, and that became evident during my interview with her. And yes... she is quite the Gal!
Shooter Spotlight with Anette Wachter
LOASW: How did you get your start in competitive shooting?
Anette: My ex-husband introduced me to High Power XTC in 2006. I had never really shot before. He asked me to give it a year so it could be something we did together. I did very well very quickly and received my Master card in one year. I excelled at the prone 600 yards and another competitor asked if I would like to try shooting Palma. He loaned me one of his rifles and helped me set it up. The next weekend I shot a big local match and won overall my class. I ended up buying that rifle and hitting the road to shoot every match I could.
LOASW: Besides shooting prone, is there another shooting discipline that you like, or perhaps something you haven't tried yet?
Anette: I branched out into 3-Gun for several years, and then picked up Precision Rifle Competition. Between the three disciplines I spread myself too thin. I could not dedicate enough time to 3-Gun practice so I focused on what I love, which is anything long range and stuck with Palma and Precision Rifle.
LOASW: Tell me about your rifle and the other equipment you use for prone shooting:
Anette: For Palma I have a beautiful English Walnut wood stock 308 rifle made by the legend, Jim Cloward. He has since retired but I will forever cherish the two rifles I have from him. He hand checkered the grips and the wood work and rifling is amazing. One action is a Hall and the other is an RPA Quadlock – a British military action. For Palma we shoot iron sights, yes at 1000 yards, and I use a Right Sight front sight and Warner rear sight. For Precision Rifle I have a custom H&H Precision build in a 6.5 Creemoor. This thing is a laser beam! I love it so much I have partnered up with that builder Ken Hagan and two others to start our own rifle company. TBD!! Very exciting.
LOASW: Competing in a sport that is dominated by men, I'm sure gives you a unique perspective. What things could be done to attract more women to the sport?
Anette: Yes, many times I am the only female at a match. It is a nice feeling to hold my own if not win occasionally. Because of that I know women get intimidated. I found I would just go spectate a match first a few times to see how things work and to talk to people. Everyone in our industry is so supportive of each other and especially new shooters. I have been offered gear to borrow to get started. You just need to be a little bold. I call the match director directly and ask tons of questions.
LOASW: In general, what things do you think could be done to increase interest in traditional NRA Shooting Sports?
Anette: I have a love hate relationship with the NRA. We need them to continue these sports. But they continue to cut funding for them every year. They claim funds are needed for the political side. It is frustrating as I am a member of the NRA High Power competition committee and I am told each meeting that we are losing more funds. Unfortunately I think they want to get out of competition entirely. CMP will be the force of these sports in the future. Increasing interest is the main topic at each meeting every year. The public likes the tactical side of guns these days. 3-gun and precision rifle are booming sports. NRA bullseye is loosing interest because the old school marksmanship is not as exciting. I wish I could convince people that those skills make a great shooter. I have been able to take those learned skills to the other disciplines and that has helped me tremendously. People want instant gratification now. We have to approach people that way. In other words, I wish I had the answer!
LOASW: That brings me to my next set of questions - You recently joined the NRA High Power Committee. How did that come about? What's the purpose of the committee, and do you have a specific role?
Anette: I was asked to join the committee a couple of years ago. Every committee of the NRA is trying to recruit a younger generation and more alternative. I covered many bases of being female, younger and I cross several disciplines of competition. As mentioned above our main goal is to keep the NRA sports alive and interesting to attract new shooters. We are trying to do this at the same time we keep losing funding. Each meeting gets more and more creative! I love my fellow members and we try to answer all of the comments one by one. (There are hundreds!)
LOASW: The NRA decided to move the National Championships from Camp Perry this year to Camp Atterbury. Do you think this will have a negative effect on the sport, or will it be a positive, considering that Camp Atterbury is quite a bit larger and could accommodate a bigger match?
Anette: I have to say I am super excited for this. Our committee went there last November to meet the range officials and see firsthand if the range would work for Nationals. The Indiana Governor as well as the Atterbury officials are bending over backwards to make this a great event. Sheri, the NRA Match Director is pulling out all of the stops. It is easy to get to the range whether flying or driving. There is plenty of lodging on base and amenities. Camp Perry over the years has lost much of the on base lodging and with that the community feel has diminished. You can count on daily BBQs and side shooting events as well as shopping, you name it. Everything you need is on base or a short trip in to town for other amenities. I have made my reservations! I really encourage people to be part of history this year. CMP has a strong following but I believe this location and event will convince all this is the US Nationals to be part of. (Read Anette's full article on Camp Atterbury here)
LOASW: Switching gears now - You are sponsored by some very impressive companies. What all does that involve? Without mentioning any names, have you ever turned down a sponsorship and why?
Anette: Getting sponsors takes time. I bought all of my gear at the start. Over time when I loved a product I would start posting on social media and making an effort to meet the people of those companies at Shot Show or matches. They have to like you too and trust you will be a good brand ambassador for them. I have turned down companies. Nicely of course. If I am not excited about the product I am not going to promote it.
LOASW: You are a well-known figure at SHOT Show. What role, if any, do you think these shows have in supporting the Second Amendment and gun rights?
Anette: I try to be a good role model in all areas of the gun industry. Good sportsmanship at a match as well as professional at events like Shot. I guess by accident I have become a role model. I just love what I do and the years of blogging and social media have attracted good publicity for myself and the industry. I am not the stereotypical gun dude. These shows are great but are only attended by the members of the gun industry. The other public does not really see it. We have to go out beyond these shows to reach the general public.
LOASW: You obviously keep pretty busy with your sponsorships and competitive shooting, do you have any hobbies that aren't shooting related?
Anette: Yes! I love to make jewelry. I have developed a line of "gun" jewelry as well. I use loading components in my pieces. I mostly sell online on my site 30calgal.com and my Etsy store – AnetteWachter. I also love to hike, cooking, tennis and water and snow sports. I wish I had more time for all of these!
LOASW: What are your plans for the future when it comes to shooting; will you keep competing or move into a different area of the industry?
Anette: I wonder every day what I am going to do when I grow up! I love competing. Of course I will always shoot Palma and stay a member of the US Rifle Team. The new rifle company I am starting with partners should be ramping up at the end of this year and that just may consume my time. It is called Developmental Weapon Systems. We have weapon systems mostly for LE and military but will also build systems for civilians for competition and hunting or whatever your fancy. I will of course be talking more about it on my website as things progress.
LOASW: One last question - What's your favorite movie and why?
Anette: Oh boy, OK here it goes... Sound of Music! I have it on my calendar to watch it around Christmas every year. I crank up the volume and sing my heart away with a huge bowl of popcorn and whiskey or red wine. My dog thinks I am nuts.
LOASW: Okay... Sound of Music was definitely NOT on my list of probables for being Anette's favorite movie. No big deal, it's one of my favs too!
If you would like to know more about Anette, you can follow her on her website and via her various social media accounts listed below:
*This interview may not be republished or used in any way, whether it be for personal or commercial use, without the expressed written permission of Mia Rhode.