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From dead last to top three — St. Anthony teen puts Idaho on the map at national shooting competition

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ST. ANTHONY — Megan Miller is the picture of calm as she’s lying on her stomach — prone position — looking through her sights at the target.

In her sturdy canvas jacket and pants, 17-year-old Megan remains perfectly still with only her heartbeat as a distraction as she shoots.

“For me, shooting is just for fun. It’s a sport. It’s what I do every day. I’m a shooter. That’s who I am now,” Megan says.

Prone is one of the three positions she shoots in during her best event at regional and national shooting competitions, along with the standing and kneeling positions. Her skill recently allowed her and two Boise teens to compete in the 2019 4-H Shooting Sports National Championship in Grand Island, Nebraska.

The event was a success for Megan, and she placed third at nationals in the small-bore rifle three-position event, and in the same event, her team placed third.

Megan during a shooting practice at the Fremont County Public Shooting Range. | Natalia Hepworth,

Eighty-three high school-aged competitors from 36 states participated in a variety of events including air pistol, archery and muzzleloading events.

“Some of these states have been having trained shooters for 20 years,” says Justin Miller, Megan’s father.

During the three-position event, Megan’s final score was 527, while the second-place competitor from New Jersey was 535. First place was a Texan with a score of 553.

Each shot on the target has a value from 1 to 10. Hitting a bullseye will award the shooter 10 points.

“One through 4 is white, and 5 to 10 is in the black,” Megan says. “If you break a line on another ring that’s higher, you get that point.”

During the three-position event, competitors shoot 20 times in each position, giving them the potential of scoring 600 points.

Justin admits this wasn’t a personal best for Megan as she’s known for shooting in the collegiate range of 570, but during the competition, the weather and location were not in her favor.

“She was able to shoot through extreme heat, wind, and malfunction distress with having to adjust her gun on the fly, and then the whole intense competition and the atmosphere,” Justin says. “I was really impressed with all the shooters … but obviously, I’m really impressed with my daughter.”

Despite the bouts of bad luck Megan persisted and was able to place higher than expected.

Megan at takes third place in the small bore rifle three-position event at the 4-H Shooting Sports National Championships. | Courtesy Photo

“She has shot well enough in the past to have placed first, but it doesn’t matter. You got to shoot what you can shoot at the time,” Justin says.

Megan was happy to be a part of the second Idaho team to attend the event and also the first young woman from St. Anthony. Last year at 4-H Nationals the Idaho team finished dead last, and this year, they weren’t going to let the same thing happen.

“Megan led the team to third place,” Justin says. But, he says the other shooters on their team were close in rank.

Besides target shooting, her family says Megan also excels in viola and violin, sports, and academics.

“It makes me stand out a little bit, but I’ve just had a lot of fun with it. It’s something that I can take to the top,” Megan says of the sport.

She has only been training for a little over a year and qualified for nationals after competing in Jerome and taking third at the state competition in 2018. For her state competition, she only took 3-weeks to prepare.

Megan and her fellow Idaho teammates at the 4-H Shooting Sports National Championships. | Courtesy Photo

“We had just enough time to go and prepare and get ready for the state shoot. We went down there with an old Mossberg WWII training rifle,” Justin says. “She shot really well.”

Megan’s knack for the shooting was first discovered by Fremont County Sheriff Len Humphries, who’s been teaching 4-H shooting sports for 20 years. Megan was only 12 when her talent was discovered at a hunter’s safety course.

“She has an incredible ability to concentrate,” says Humphries, who coached during nationals. “She has been the best student. She’s the best shot so far, no question.”

Since this was the only national competition Megan will attend, she’s looking forward to competing in three-position shooting in college and other shooting events throughout the country. This summer, Megan continues to stay busy and is attending the National Rifle Association’s Youth Education Summit as an ambassador because of her outstanding academics.

“It’s a lot of fun, and anyone can shoot if you’re going to put the work in,” Megan says. “As high as you want to set your dreams, then that’s as far as you can go.”

Megan with her family at the 4-H Shooting Sports National Championships. | Courtesy Photo