I grew up playing a variety of sports: soccer, volleyball, lacrosse, basketball (until everyone grew taller and taller and I stayed short), etc. I love sports. I always have. I love the competitive atmosphere, the heartache and the euphoria they evoke, I love it all. But what has always fascinated me about sports is how different the communities are.

For many reasons, shooting is like no other sport I've ever experienced. But the one thing that strikes me the most is the generosity and camaraderie amongst people involved in such a competitive and individual sport. Don't believe me? A top competitive precision rifle can cost between one and five thousand dollars. Each one is set just as each individual shooter needs it for his or her position and body type. They are all very adjustable down to the most minuscule detail. Unfortunately, they are also rather fragile when it comes to bumping them on things, dropping them, and/or travel wear and tear. Although shooters, especially those who travel by air, have very heavy-duty cases to check their rifles in, things still happen, and people show up to matches only to discover that their trigger broke, so they can't shoot, or any other number of potential things that could go wrong, disabling a shooter from competing after traveling so far and likely training very hard.

But in reality, this is rarely a problem at shooting competitions. Equipment breaks often, but shooters rarely let a fellow shooter suffer because of an unfortunate mishap. It's pretty much just a part of the culture at this point that if a shooter, even one you don't know, has some kind of equipment problem, you up everything you have to help this person, including your own very expensive, highly personalized rifle (as long as they're on different relays).

Shooters, generally speaking, have each other covered. The competitive spirit is still alive and strong, but it’s not completely ruthless. We're a smaller community and we support each other. Whether it's lending equipment, giving pointers on how to improve a position, or older shooters telling younger shooters about things like shooting in college or what they have learned from shooting and why they've stayed in this sport so long, we work to keep the sport alive by maintaining this supportive culture. It's one of the things I love about shooting the most and I really hope it's something that stays around for years to come.