How a Junior Athlete Joined Team Ruger

At the time I was coaching trap so I said well, I’ll just make her a trap shooter like the rest of them and keep this easy… she had other plans. She’s always had the frame of mind that she didn’t want to do what everybody else does. So soccer and other ball sports were out of the question. I said okay, you don’t like shotguns let’s go shoot some pistols and that was that!

-Dave Jackley, Abby’s father and Wilmot Panthers Head Coach

Now in her eighth year as a Scholastic Action Shooting Program (SASP) athlete, Abby Jackley has joined Ruger’s Pro Staff team. Signing two other athletes her age, Ruger has recognized that some of the fastest action shooting athletes in the world are youth, most of them getting their start in the SASP. With a truly even playing field, the SASP is proud to provide a youth program in which athletes from grade school through college can compete and grow in a sport where there is no such thing as being “benched”.

How did you get started in the shooting sports?

“I got started through my parents. My dad has been a trap coach as long as I can remember. He coached my brothers when they shot trap and I tried it out when I was in sixth grade and I honestly hated it. I was bored out of my mind! I shot it for a year and I just didn’t quite like it but my dad mentioned that one of the other coaches knew of the pistol team through the same high school. He didn’t know much about it so we both went I tried it out. At first he was just a parent helping out, being there with me. I started shooting that a bunch and then now he’s the head coach of our team!

I was Team Captain my senior year of high school and during that time I took the SASP coaches course with my parents. I now help out with all the rookies and anyone first starting out, especially left-handed shooters. I’m left-handed so they all end up asking me because no one knows how to help out a left-handed shooter!”

Tell us how you joined Team Ruger at such a young age!

“It was about 2 years ago when Rick Leach introduced me to Paul Pluff with Ruger at Nationals. He really liked the way I shot and I just got talking with him. We tried out some of his guns at the Ruger booth at Nationals and he said he would love to expand our connections and work with you on our Pro Staff. Once I turned 18, I joined team Ruger and was joined by two other athletes, Kaleb Klein and Connor Knapp. So we all joined together as “Junior Team Ruger”. It was really a different experience I never would have seen if I asked myself when I first started shooting SASP. I never would have believed being on a Pro Staff team, especially for a company like Ruger.”

Tell us what its like being an athlete in the Scholastic Action Shooting Program?

“Getting started in the SASP program, finding a local team I think is really something great. I think it’s a great program to get started in and it’s a great way to learn basic handling skills of pistols and rifles. The team is kids that maybe they go to school with and even if they don’t know anyone, it’s a great place to make friends because everyone’s their age and everyone’s doing the same thing. I think it’s it’s really a open environment even for families. Even the parents don’t quite know about the sport or even about shooting, everyone is very open and willing to help you out. Athletes can use team gear to get your feet wet and try it out before you really jump in but I think it’s a very open door for new families.”

As a parent and coach, was it like going through the SSSF Action Shooting Sports Coach Training?

“Everyone did their own their own online portion and then the range day was fun. I was probably the least confident but it helped me too. I do more of the administrative part of the coaching, so the experience actually built up my confidence to go out on the range. I think it really helped to learn about about the program more in general, the whole organizational aspect and how it sort of builds and can help become the next step for other things. It really made us look outside of our local club. Since taking the course, we’ve actually encouraged a lot of our parents on our team to become coaches rather than just volunteers. They’ve taken the entire program all the way through the field course and we now have eight coaches total for our team instead of just one coach. The parent involvement has been huge and it’s really helped gain their confidence and understanding what their kids are doing and shooting so it’s sort of brought the whole family out on the range.”

As a parent, how have you seen Abby grow since joining the program?

I’ve really seen her confidence grow. From just being one of the athletes on the team, to then being a junior coach… She’s been proud of what she’s done and I think she sort of drug us along with her but it’s been a fun adventure!

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