Rising Shooting Stars: Amanda Wright

Ever met someone who won their Distinguished Rifleman’s Badge and President’s 100 tab in the same week? Now you have.

by
posted on February 1, 2024
Amanda Wright Lede

Many highpower shooters spend their entire career chasing their Distinguished Rifleman’s Badge and President’s 100 tab. These high honors take incredible dedication and talent to get. Very infrequently does a shooter earn them both in the same week ... but this month's Rising Shooting Star, Amanda Wright, did just that.

Amanda Wright of Erie, Pennsylvania earned both her P100 tab and final points towards her Distinguished Rifleman’s Badge at the 2021 National Matches. She accomplished these feats at 19 years old, attending as a member of the All-Guard Rifle Team. Amanda started shooting smallbore at Gem City Gun Club at age 11 after watching her older brother go through the program. Her dad introduced her to shooting and hunting at an early age, so competition was a natural progression.

She earned her Smallbore Distinguished Badge at the age of 16, then moved to coaching smallbore, which she still does today. She began shooting high power at the early age of 12, starting to compete with the Gem City X-Men when she was 15. She hasn’t missed attending the National Matches since she was 16, though when she turned 17 she joined the Pennsylvania National Guard and surrendered her junior status.

Now 21 years old and a Sergeant, Amanda is a high master in NRA and CMP, has earned her Governor’s 20 tab, attended the All Army Small Arms Championships, and taught courses for the PA Marksmanship Unit. The most pivotal moment she has had in her shooting career was getting her P100 and Distinguished Badge one day after the other. It was surreal, but also made her realize she had achieved what she had been working towards for seven years, just leaving big titles and trophies to win.

“You feel like you’re starting from another bottom,” she explained. This led her to explore new types of shooting so that she could be a more well-rounded instructor. Shooting for the military has introduced Amanda to an entirely different series of matches. She attended the 2020 Interservice Matches with the All-Guard Team and began shooting with the Pennsylvania marksmanship unit in combat competitions in 2022.

A lot of people wonder why shooters, particularly high power shooters, do what they do. “Shooting is not for the weak hearted, so if you do what we do you really truly love to do it,” Amanda said. It’s also the community. “Everyone is so happy to just be there, and they are always willing to help out, answer questions, or even give you equipment if you are missing anything. It’s truly wonderful to be surrounded by the people because they make you love it that much more and remind you why you do it when you get down.” In these sports no one is winning thousands of dollars—it truly comes down to marksmanship and challenging yourself.

According to Amanda, marksmanship has taught her more than she can put to words. “Self-discipline, mental game and resiliency more than anything. You have to be able to take a look at yourself and dig as deep as you can and be willing to admit you can always make yourself better. You have to accept that bad things are going to happen, and learn from your mistakes rather than giving up. Your biggest competitor really is you.” These are good life lessons as well.

Coaching is another skill that takes extreme perseverance. While coaches give their all, they often gain a lot as well. “Coaching has taught me more than I could have imagined. Once you start looking at other people, you have to be able to explain what you do, and you realize so much along the way. It allows you to see everything from a different point of view and you have to learn how to explain and see others’ ways too.”

It takes hard work, but Amanda encourages shooters to not give up and rely on those around them. “Everyone works on a different timeline but I have never once missed the light bulb come on for anyone that has given their all to this sport. It is about more than pulling the trigger. Be open minded because there is so much you can learn from everyone if you take the opportunities, they are everywhere.”

The Gem City X-Men started her with gear—these days, most of it belongs to the Guard. She uses her iconic purple Creedmoor coat and glove and relies on glasses with red lenses. “I have blue eyes and it relaxes the sunlight but also brightens up the darker colors that are on the target which is a perfect balance,” she said. She also uses a Magpul UBR Gen 1 stock which is helpful for smaller statured shooters and has a slightly wider cheek piece for good cheek-to-stock placement.

On the same topic, Amanda struggles to get a proper cheekweld while sporting earmuffs, so she relies on molded ear plugs. A ball cap is another must-have. “It keeps my hair out of my eyes and the sun from my face. I put the brim over the scope to help too, although baby hairs are good wind readers.” Another tip? Take notes. “Colored pens are useful to use in your book—with more colors you can make things easier to read later and give yourself codes.”

Although she now works full-time for the PA National Guard in supply and administration, her passion is still coaching. “Even on the days my students shoot better than me, I love watching the light in their eyes and seeing them find the same joy for the sport that I have had for so long. I coach kids mostly, and it is nice to know there is a generation behind us that will continue to carry on. My ultimate goal is to have my own travel trailer and go around to each of the 50 states and run my own shooting clinic, that way I can ensure everyone has a chance to experience this amazing sport. Not everyone has access to it and so many people don’t get opportunities to learn about marksmanship in general.” She spends a lot of time giving back to the Gem City programs she grew up in. “Without everything Gem City gun club runs and provides, I would have never found what gives me the most passion,” she said.

“So many people gave their time and money to get me where I wanted to go, and I love being able to go do the same for the juniors we have now, they see where I ended up and it makes them want to work harder too.”

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