Seventeen-year-old Rachel Harper of Benton City, Washington is the definition of an athlete. Gymnastics, track and field, paddle boarding, snowboarding, pistol shooting—Harper has a wide variety of skills and puts in the work to showcase her natural talents.
Harper has been shooting since age nine, but did not officially begin competing until age 12. Her parents discovered the Practical Edge Shooting Junior Team and clinics when they signed up for handgun and rifle training after taking a concealed carry class. Harper learned safe firearm handing in junior clinics, and over the past five years has competed in the USPSA Carry Optics division as a member of Practical Edge Junior Shooting Team.
Joining the team and competing in USPSA, Harper met many wonderful people whom she considers her family. “All my family lives on the other side of the U.S.,” Harper said. “When I joined the shooting community, I came to learn that I could have a family locally and have fun doing the sport I love.” The people and the friendly atmosphere are what she loves most about shooting, though she’s always enjoyed the competitive aspect of every sport she has ever been involved in.
She is currently classified as a Master in the USPSA Carry Optics division and competes with a 9mm Sig Sauer P320 X-Five. Harper placed 5th overall and took 1st Lady in the Carry Optics division in the 2020 Area 1 Championship. She also claimed 2nd place Lady and 4th junior at the 2020 USPSA Carry Optics/PCC Nationals. Though she is proud of these awards, she considers her greatest accomplishment the progress she has made since she began shooting. She aspires to place in the top 20 shooters at the 2021 USPSA Carry Optics/PCC Nationals, as well as to claim some overall division wins throughout the season in major matches.
Harper advises new shooters to observe matches as well as attend handgun and rifle training classes. “When you do shoot your first match,” she advises, “Don’t be afraid to ask someone for help! Learning with a friend is fun, and helps you advance too.”
Besides her shooting goals, Harper plans to attend college in the fall of 2021 and compete in track and field at the collegiate level. In pursuit of this end, she spends considerable time training for her events—pole vault and sprints—working on improving her jump heights and times. Maintaining good academic marks is also important to her, and she is considering a major in exercise science as well as physical therapy or chiropractic school in the future. Follow her athletic and shooting journey on Instagram -- @shooter_rachel.