New Shooter Profile: A Conversation with USA Shooting’s Jessica Delos Reyes
Jessica Delos Reyes is the Media and Public Relations Manager for USA Shooting, the national governing body for the Olympic shooting sports, based in Colorado Springs, Colorado. A relative newbie on the job—she started on April 1, 2013—Delos Reyes is discovering the finer aspects of the sport of shooting from the finest shooters in the world.
Before coming to USA Shooting, this Montana native worked in media and marketing for USA Cycling and for a sports arena and performing arts venue. She also did a stint on the college hockey beat for a Colorado Springs newspaper.
“I originally wanted to learn how to shoot when I got here to really get a better understanding of the sport and what my athletes do. I never could have dreamed how much I’d learn,” said Delos Reyes. She recalled her fourth day on the job. “I was out on the line here at the Olympic Training Center with 2012 Olympian Frank Thompson, who showed me how to shoot an air rifle, and later that night with our Junior Club learning how to shoot an air pistol. Who gets an Olympian to teach them a new sport? How could I pass up an opportunity like that?”
Since then, she’s been on the range many times and believes her experiences with shooting safely, along with superior instruction, have helped her to overcome an unpleasant first experience shooting when she was a 10-year-old in Montana. “I’d gone [to the range] with my dad. I accidentally shot a bird [near the berm] and freaked out and didn’t shoot again until I joined the USAS staff. I had grown up around hunting, but had never been myself. I love the outdoors, so yeah, it probably was a bit strange I had never gotten involved in the shooting sports,” explained Delos Reyes.
About her return to shooting sports, she said, “I have to confess, I really liked air pistols and I liked that it was quiet. I liked that there was practically no kick and no loud boom. Don’t get me wrong, now I can appreciate the big bang of a larger caliber, but it was a definitely positive and gentle introduction to the shooting sports.”
Delos Reyes compared shooting sports to her first-love sport: hockey.
“It’s all so different from other sports I’ve participated in. I’ve been a hockey player since I was a child. It’s a team sport, it’s loud and I have another factor (the opposing team) involved in the outcome. I’m a goalie and I get pumped and I’m loud before a game. The shooting sports, in the opposite, require a calm strength. It’s just me and my thoughts, and I’m in control of that score. It’s hard for me to keep cool when the shots go poorly, but it’s been a good lesson for me to navigate the mental challenges of this sport.”
In December, Delos Reyes will compete in her first match, the Winter Airgun Championships, at the USA Shooting Training Center.
“I’ve been involved in sports for most of my professional life and never have I seen a sport where the elite athletes are so willing to share the ‘keys to the kingdom,’ as my coworkers would say, with their competitors. I’ll go shoot or dry-fire during my lunch hour and I’ll have National Team members and Olympians voluntarily help me with my hold, my grip, to fix my gun, anything. I’m this total beginner and they don’t patronize or act like I’m a burden. They freely give of their time and expertise, and it’s phenomenal. I’ve never seen anything like it in sports. Even on campus at the Training Center, athletes will occasionally introduce me as ‘Jess, the pistol shooter,’ versus ‘Jess, the media girl!’” she added.
Delos Reyes follows a training regime for that match, which includes the gym program the trainers have set up for pistol shooters and shooting almost every day at the range, which is located 50 feet away from her office.
“Occasionally, my coworkers and I will have mini air pistol matches, with the loser buying lunch. Fingers crossed, I haven’t had to buy lunch yet!” said Delos Reyes.
She noted that although she enjoys trap shooting on a nice day, she is excited to learn to shoot Rapid Fire Pistol.
“At my first National Championships, something happened where we needed an announcer for that event, so I hurried up, read the rules and winged it. Some of the top shooters in the world were on the line for that and they were so nice to me, the girl who was going to attempt to announce this event she’d never seen—and they were the ones competing! I know women don’t shoot that event internationally, but some of those guys have offered to teach me and it just looks like a lot of fun.”
Because of her newfound opportunities in the shooting sports, Delos Reyes encourages anyone interested in shooting to seek instruction and find ranges.
“Not everyone will have the experience I had of learning at the Olympic Training Center, but anyone I’ve met at other levels in this sport seems eager to help teach and encourage people to succeed.”
Delos Reyes now writes, designs and photographs for USA Shooting News, a print and online magazine that includes updates on national and international competitions, along with tips and tactics from USA Shooting coaches and more. To learn more about USA Shooting and its support for Olympic shooters, click here.