“KGB!” It seemed every other award given at the 2022 NRA Smallbore Silhouette Nationals went to 16-year-old Kaeli-Gracyn Bourgoyne of the Louisiana Junior Rifle Silhouette Team. Kaeli-Gracyn, or KG for short, began shooting formally in fourth grade when her parents founded a shooting sports team through her parish 4-H club. “I began shooting archery and fell in love with it,” she said. “The next year we then started a rifle team and that's when I really began working hard to be the best that I could possibly be.” Though this was her first exposure to true marksmanship, she actually began shooting much earlier.
“Growing up in a small town surrounded by woods and swamps, there isn’t much more to do than hunting,” KG explained. “At the age of six I went on my first hunting trip and harvested a few squirrels. As the years continued, I still continue to hunt and shoot as much as I can.”
As part of 4-H shooting sports, KG competes in smallbore and air rifle and has made it to the Nationals twice, once in each discipline. She placed fourth place in 4-H air rifle silhouette in 2021 and claimed the smallbore silhouette national championship in 2022, helping her team place first overall. She has also shot some CMP rimfire sporter.
Truly, 2022 was a great year for KG. She claimed numerous awards at the 2022 NRA Smallbore Silhouette National Championship including High Intermediate Junior in smallbore hunter rifle for each match of the smallbore hunter championship; first AAA and High Intermediate Junior for the aggregate smallbore hunter championship, and High Intermediate Junior for the smallbore grand aggregate. She also had the high score on both the smallbore standard and smallbore silhouette high junior teams along with previously featured rising stars Kaleb and Hunter Santiso.
Her Nationals performance moved her to the highest NRA silhouette classification in smallbore hunter rifle, Master. She is classified as AAA in smallbore standard rifle and AAA in open air rifle. She competes in NRA smallbore silhouette with an Anschutz 1712 complete with a custom Steve Wooster stock and Leupold scope in D3 precision rings. She exclusively shoots Lapua Center-X and keeps tools, a notebook and multiple pens with her on the range. Many of these items she stores in her shooting vest made by Chris Winstead.
The 2022 NRA Smallbore Silhouette Nationals held in Ridgway, Pennsylvania, were also the first leg of the inaugural Lapua Monarch Cup. This extra notoriety attracted the world’s best silhouette shooters, adding extra pressure and providing great opportunities to learn. KG recognized this. “When I would make bad shots or not have a good round I would tell myself that it's okay to make mistakes, but learn from them,” she said. “That’s exactly what I did, by the end of the shoot with all of my hard work mentally and physically I persevered and finished first overall in my class. With this shoot I had the opportunity to learn and grow from great shooters such as Dustin Flint and Erich Mietenkorte as well as many others.”
KG doesn’t just use what she learns for her own benefit, but is passionate about sharing it with others, coaching 4-H smallbore rifle and serving as a junior leader counselor for 4-H summer camp. She is also secretary of her 4-H club and the vice president of her FFA club with plans of running for president. “Marksmanship has taught me to be a leader and teach others the knowledge that I’ve gained. I have also learned that when something doesn’t go how you planned, you can’t let your emotions overcome you or it will cause a negative effect on your task.” She encourages others to always ask questions and to avoid self-comparison as much as possible.
Moving forward, KG has silhouette at the center of her goals. This year she plans to attend all three legs of the Lapua Monarch Cup in Canada, New Mexico and Mexico. She looks forward to meeting new friends, but also aspires to one day shoot as well as some of her shooting role models and outshoot them. “I plan to be a leader and inspire as many people as I can as I continue on my journey to achieving these goals.”