BRENHAM, WASHINGTON COUNTY Carolina Panthers quarterback and Blinn College alumnus Cam Newton may have a cannon for an arm, but even he can’t match the firepower of first-year student and Olympic hopeful Gayla Gregory.
A Blinn student and member of the USA Shooting national junior shotgun team, Gregory recently placed ninth overall at the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) World Championships in Lima, Peru. Gregory competed in the skeet women junior individual division, helping USA capture gold in the team division.
“It was really nerve-racking, shooting against Olympians and world champions,” she said. “But it was a good experience, and I was able to meet a lot of really good shooters on the trip. It was a really good trip overall.”
Gregory qualified for the World Championships with a silver medal performance at the USA Shooting Spring Selection Match in June, and she was the lone competitor for Blinn College last March at the Association of College Unions International (ACUI) 45th Annual Clay Targets Tournament held in San Antonio, where she was the bronze medalist in international skeet.
An A&M Consolidated High School grad, Gregory said her goal is to earn a spot in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, or the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, Japan.
“I learned to shoot in the Brazos County 4-H program with I was 10 years old, and when I was 14, I began shooting in Olympic skeet competitions,” she said.
Gregory said the key to her success is to maintain a positive attitude and remain focused, even when competing against such legends as five-time Olympic medalist Kim Rhode and three-time national champion Haley Dunn.
“I’ve reached the point where going overseas to compete does not intimidate me because I’ve already competed with some of the best shooters around,” Gregory said. “I know that if I can compete against the best shooters here, I can compete anywhere I go.”
Gregory said she intends to transfer to Texas A&M University next year.
Her next competition will come Oct. 11-14 at the 2013 USA Shooting Shotgun Fall Selection in Tucson, Ariz.