The plane ride home must have seemed especially long for the men from Italy, and even more so for the guys from Austrailia and New Zealand. They’d traveled about halfway around the planet for the World Action Pistol Championship only to get beaten by a schoolgirl from Kansas. And she’d only been shooting competitive handguns about a year.
OK, so technically the school is law school, and the girl is 25-year-old Dakota Hauserman, from Wichita, and she is from a family of avid and successful shooters. Her uncle and coach, Daniel Hauserman, a longtime competition shooter, also won a world-champion title at the big championship shoot in Park City, Ky., two weeks ago.
“I’ve won some national championships, but they were nothing like winning a world championship,” Daniel said at their family shooting range Thursday evening. He was more proud of his niece’s success.
“She does well because she learns pretty quick, and she really listens to me when I’m working with her,” he said.
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Dakota giggled a bit, and added, “I listen to him because he is my uncle. If it was my dad, I probably wouldn’t listen ... you know.” Her dad, Dhon Hauserman, also competed in the World Championship shoot that’s held every two years. It was the second time it’s been held in the United States.
Dakota beat 35 other shooters in the marksman class. She said classifications are based on experience levels.
Daniel beat 80 other shooters in the metallic class, which means the pistols are fairly basic with no fancy optics and other improvements. There’s a reason the sport is described as “action shooting.”
A line of six metal plates, that lay back when hit, are Dakota’s favorites of the competitions. They must all be shot in as little as six seconds. Daniel has cleared all six in less than four seconds. The lines of plates are shot at 10, 15, 20 and 25 yards. Another part of the competition is to shoot from both sides of barricades that are from 10 to 35 yards from the targets. Again, timing is crucial as the shooters have to move from barrier to barrier.
Competitors also deal with a moving target that slides along a 60-foot cable in six seconds as they fire up to six rounds. That’s shot from 10 to 25 yards.
Standard, stationary targets are shot from 10 to 50 yards, and shooters are again racing the clock. Some of the shooting must be done with the gunner’s off-hand. For Dakota, that means she had to shoot some long targets left-handed, using her left eye for aiming. And there are still more challenges.
All shooters start with pistols holstered and hands at about face level. On longer shots, like those past 20 yards, many shooters must decide if they want to sacrifice a few split-seconds to drop to the ground to shoot from the prone position.
“It’s done so you can be more steady, more accurate,” Daniel said. “It doesn’t make any difference how fast you shoot if you don’t hit the targets.”
If practice does indeed make perfect, it’s no surprise Dakota and Daniel won world championships. He estimates he fires upwards of 40,000 rounds of 9 mm ammo per year, practicing four times per week. Dakota’s averages about two evenings per week, and probably totals closer to 8,000 rounds of .38 Super ammo.
Daniel reloads their ammo to help with the costs, and does much of the custom work on their pistols. Still, they say Dakota’s pistol is worth about $2,500.
In a few months, her handgun shooting will probably take a backseat to other loves.
“Shotgunning is really my main thing. I really like shooting trap and I love hunting,” she said. “Really, the main reason I’m into pistols is so I can spend time with my dad and uncle.”
She’s hoping to make quite a few days afield after deer and ducks with her main hunting partner, Hans, her tiny Pomeranian dog that sits with her in hunting blinds. The 2012 graduate of Fort Hays State University has been working within the local court system for experience since then, and plans on beginning school at the Florida Coastal School of Law in January.
She’s not sure if she’ll do any handgun shooting in Florida, but she won’t be heading south unarmed.
“I hear they have have a lot of really good trap ranges down there,” she said. “I’ll at least be taking my shotgun.”