Vallonia woman wins another national shooting title, sets record


Her yearlong motto had been "Follow the plan."

Sounds simple, right?

Well, that usually would be if everything goes as expected and there are no surprises or mishaps.

In her second straight appearance at the Civilian Marksmanship Program National Matches on July 21 at Camp Perry in Port Clinton, Ohio, Jeannie Redicker, 55, of Vallonia struggled mentally after a range safety officer tapped on her shoulder with four shots remaining early in the competition. He claimed her glove was illegal.

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To shake it up even more, she later experience a malfunction with her rifle.

In the end, though, she overcame the adversity and returned home with a national title and a national record. Her 588 gave her the women’s tactical division title and set a national scoring record, which previously was 581 set in 2012.

"It’s bittersweet," Redicker said. "It’s a lot like life. Things just don’t go the way you plan it, and it’s how you handle those bumps in the road that define you. … I think more than anything, I am disappointed in myself in how I handled that adversity because I could not stop once that snowball effect started."

Working toward the competition, Redicker said she changed her training with her coach, A.J. Huffman, and felt confident in her ability to win a national title again. In 2018, she won the women’s telescopic division.

"Last year, I peaked about three weeks early, and so my coach held me back a lot this year," she said. "In fact, he really didn’t let me go to really start practicing until five weeks before Perry to practice hard. He didn’t want me to peak too early again, and I didn’t. I was peaking right at the right time, and I was shooting well."

Once she completed drills Huffman wanted her to do, she spent a couple of hours nearly every day working on what she felt she needed to.

"Sometimes, it ran into three, but I tried to keep it at about two hours," she said. "That’s about as long as what a match usually lasts, and so that kind of kept the physical aspect at about the same spot."

Heading into the National Matches, Redicker said her goal was to shoot as well there as she did on the farm, which usually was between 595 and 598 out of 600.

"If I could do that, then a lot of subgoals would fall into place," she said. "If I shot like that at Perry, then being the first woman to win the overall categories was a possibility. The women’s title obviously would have fallen into that and setting a national record for the women’s score, too."

Working with Huffman, Redicker said she thought she was mentally prepared.

She, however, couldn’t have prepared for what happened five minutes into the first string of fire.

The range safety officer tapped on her shooting shoulder and said she was using an illegal glove.

"I was just astonished because at one point, when he said something about my glove, I said, ‘It’s the glove I always wear. There’s a dozen of them on the line the same as what I’ve got,’" Redicker said. "I looked at him and said, ‘Did you interrupt a ring of fire to challenge my glove?’ I was just blown away about it."

She still had four shots remaining, and they tried to call the round off early before realizing she wasn’t done. Then she had to rush to get back in position.

"They were good shots, so I can’t say that he caused me to miss shots there, but it rattled me," Redicker said.

After she was done, the range safety officer approached her to explain his stance and apologize, but she was focused on calming down for the next string, prone rapid fire.

"My heart never stopped racing the whole hour-and-a-half match that I shot," Redicker said. "I could feel it just beating in my chest. I could see my heartbeat come through my sling, and I can see it moving my rifle. Usually, it moves it just a tiny tick between right in the X ring. I can hold steady enough that it’s just in the X ring. This one’s bouncing across the 10 ring. My sights are moving that much. That’s a lot."

At that point, she said her mental aspect broke down.

"I felt my goal slipping away, and just for some reason, things just didn’t go right, and I started kind of a downward spiral, and it continued like that all the way through that match," she said.

On top of that, she thought she had fixed a malfunction in her telescopic rifle and was prepared if something happened during the match.

During offhand rapid fire, though, she had a malfunction and didn’t get three shots off.

"There’s 30 points. You’re way out of the running by then," Redicker said. "If you want to win, you can drop three points at the most. You can’t drop 30, so I knew as soon as I did that, that rifle was just totally out of the running of the goals that I had wanted to do."

Then it was time for a nearly two-hour break until the final relay, where she would shoot with her tactical rifle.

"I put music in and tried to focus, get back into my ‘We’re just shooting on the farm, like at home,’" she said. "I’m an anxious person anyway, and I could not settle down. This is where the mental toughness would have come in and helped had I been able to stop, but it just continued to snowball, and I just didn’t know how to stop it. I just couldn’t stop it."

To start the final relay, she said she still felt shaky.

"My heart was still pounding, but I was just going to try my best. That’s all I could do," Redicker said. "I went into it not really with any expectations. I just for myself wanted to shoot well. I had no idea what score needed to be put up to win. I had no idea what records were or anything like that because I hadn’t really paid attention to that rifle. I wanted to shoot it well. There just wasn’t any goal to it."

She only dropped two points through the first four stages and thought she still had a chance to win the women’s title.

"I get to offhand standing, and again, ‘Just follow the plan, Jeannie. You’re good at shooting offhand. This is your stage. This is where you win it or lose it,’" she said.

By that point, however, she said her adrenaline had been so rushed for so long.

"I was totally whooped," she said. "I physically was fatigued, and I could not hold still for nothing."

She dropped five points and shot 95 in slow and rapid fire, pushing her overall score 12 points to 588. In 2018, she scored 584, so she met her goal of shooting a better score.

The 588 was good enough to win the women’s tactical title out of 16 competitors and was fourth out of 87 men and women. She received two medals and a plaque.

"It took me probably 45 minutes before it ever even dawned on me that that score was better than last year’s and that it may or may not be good enough to win the women’s division," she said.

"It didn’t even dawn on me because I was so disappointed in my performance and knowing that I had shot less, that I set lofty goals and missed them," she said. "It never dawned on me that there were subgoals that maybe I hit that I had achieved and didn’t realize it."

For telescopic, she placed 14th out of 36 women and was 89th out of 205 overall.

Thinking ahead to the 2020 competition, Redicker said she’s unsure what her goals will be. She talked to a friend, Dave Goodrich, and learned he was focused on having fun this year and wound up having a blast.

"Part of me just wants to go and set up next to Dave and just have fun and let the chips fall where they may," Redicker said. "My goal will always be to shoot a match as well as I can shoot at home. That’s always our goal. You want to shoot your best. But this year wasn’t a lot of fun, and it has to be fun because we sacrificed a lot to get me out there."

She also talked to another friend who is a retired colonel about being mentally tough and recently started reading a book on that topic.

Next year, she’s going to keep all of the advice in mind and hopes to follow the plan.

"Absolutely," she said, smiling.

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