Although the Daisy National BB Gun Championship Match is always a special occasion, 2017 promises to be a banner year by anyone's standards. Seven years ago, 13-year-old Lydia Paterson won the Daisy Overall National Championship as an individual...and last year, she competed on behalf of the U.S. in the Olympics! This year, she's giving back to Daisy and the sport that started her on her journey by visiting this year’s Championship Match to sign autographs and lend support to the young competitors.
Paterson’s story began when the youngster joined the Wyandotte County 4-H Shooting Sports Program when she was just 7 years old. Her father was the coach and she made the shooting team as an alternate in 2006. She competed as a team member in the 2008 and again in 2010, when she won the whole thing.
“Winning with my Dad as the coach made it so special,” she said. “He taught me all I knew about shooting and was there to support me in any way he could. He spent hours working on my gun and taking time to coach me – even when I wasn’t being the most coachable kid.”
Paterson told her father several weeks before the match that she really wanted to win, so they upped her practice from four days a week to every day, and she spent hours poring over the test (contestants must take a written test on gun safety and competition, and it figures into his or her final score). During the competition, Paterson didn’t feel good about her performance in the Kneeling position, and thought she’d let down her team, her dad and herself.
“I was in tears sitting in the back of our car, and Dad turned around and told me that no matter the outcome, he was still very proud of me.
“That was the first time I really decided to go for something and let nothing stand in my way,” Paterson said. “I was shocked when my name was called for the aggregate gold medal! My hard work had paid off, and I learned an important lesson. You don’t have to be perfect, but if you work hard to prepare and leave it all on the line, you can walk away with your head held high.”
Winning the National Championship was special, but one of life’s hurdles appeared shortly after the win. She was diagnosed with scoliosis of the spine, and the once active shooter and softball player found it too painful to participate in the sports she loved, so she looked for an alternative. In 2011 she was introduced to international pistol shooting and started training for USA Shooting events. She earned a spot on the National Pistol Team in June of 2012, and began traveling all over the world with her USA Shooting Team. She shot in the Czech Republic, Spain, Switzerland, Mexico, Germany, Austria, Azerbaijan and Brazil, as well as across our nation.
In May of 2015, she placed eighth in the World Cup Munich Competition, which earned her an official invitation to the Olympic Games. Olympic Trials were held in June 2016 to determine who would represent the United States in the Olympic Games in Rio, and she won her trial by a large margin – 24 points – and started her Olympic journey.
In Rio Paterson competed in the Women’s 10-meter Air Pistol event and placed 29th out of 44 shooters. It’s a sport that requires incredible mental focus as well as strength, as the shooting position is free standing with one arm holding the pistol.
Paterson is now taking time off the competitive shooting trail to focus on her college studies at the University of St. Mary, but she’s still involved in the shooting sports. As a 2017 Youth Shooting Sports Ambassador for the National Rifle Association, she works to encourage young people to participate in competitive shooting sports and shines a positive light on all types of shooting.
The Daisy National BB Gun Championship Match is held each year in Rogers, Ark., and brings seven-person teams (five shooters and two alternates) ages 8-15 together to compete for the title of National Champion. Teams qualify by placing first, second or third in a state NRA-sanctioned event, and come from throughout the nation. Keep an eye out for coverage of the event here on NRA Family!