This is the first in a series of interviews with Serious Shooting Women and the first in a series of interviews with Becca Spinks, RUDY Project team shooter, writer for guncultmag.com, athlete, run – and – gunner, and mom.
ED: Hi there Becca! Thanks for sitting down and do this for TTAG. The first thing I want to do is acknowledge not only how happy I am to have you here, but also how we met, which was basically by you pounding the stuffing out of me in a ground fighting class taught by Central Texas Combatives. What a great way to meet another gunwoman!
RS: I agree, right?
ED: Since this is our first interview I’d like you to tell us about your background. How you became a competitive shooter. How old are you? How did it all start?
RS: Well, whoa!
ED: Tell us whatever you want, let’s start there.
RS: I’m in my early 30s. I started shooting with my dad when I was really young, rifles out at the ranch, stuff like that. I always had an interest in guns, and my dad taught me a lot of respect toward guns from a very early age.
This was the age when he had a shotgun mounted above his bed and a loaded revolver in the top drawer, and I didn’t touch it. I knew that, I was a good kid, and I always had that respect. It was ingrained in me from the very beginning, that I never touched a gun without my dad.
When I got older, I got really curious and wanted to shoot more. So my dad took me to the range when I was pretty young with a .357 revolver. I’ll never forget it, because it shot .38 specials and .357 magnums, and he put in three .38 specials and two .357 magnums and spun it.
That was a lot to handle. But I loved it. He always said, “I was trying to scare you away from guns. I was trying to scare you and show you the power of a gun.”
Now, we did all of this in a very safe way, my dad is not a reckless person at all. I was familiar with guns and it wasn’t like I was going to smack myself in the head or anything. But what he really wanted to do was show me how powerful guns were, and to “scare” me enough to know that they’re dangerous. Now he jokes that that backfired, because after that, all I did was ask him to take me to the range.
I was always into guns and shooting, really interested in that. When I was in my early 20s, I bought my first handgun and got into taking it to the range. I got a shotgun, too and was also taking that out.
I met my best friend/mentor/spirit animal Jonathan Foo, who is still my best friend to this day, at a range, just in kind of a random way. He started talking to me about competitive shooting, which I never knew was a thing. I was immediately interested and wanted to do it.
So, I showed up to a Steel Challenge for my very first match. I borrowed somebody’s gun – I think it was a double action H&K. And I shot phenomenally well, which we call “beginner’s luck.” The story doesn’t stay this great. But I realized how much I enjoyed it.
I immediately went and sold the gun I had, which was – don’t laugh – a Smith & Wesson compact M&P .45 — not very well suited for competition. But it was what I had, because I was a kid and wanted a .45 because I thought it was cool. I sold that, and bought an H&K USP because I had liked it so much. I shot that USP for a while.
I was young, and just out of college, and didn’t have any money to buy guns and ammo. So it was slow going at first. I would shoot a match, and then stop for a long time because I didn’t have the money to do more. It was really hard after I graduated college with a science degree in 2008. The economy was terrible, so I was taking contract jobs out in the desert, at Fort Irwin in the barracks, weird government contract work like that, and struggling to find a permanent job.
I think that’s something that happens to most people that come into the sport young, without the support of their parents. They struggle to get involved. People don’t realize, it takes a lot of money to get out there and buy all the gear you need and really compete. It’s taken me this long, probably 10 years, to get to the point where I have all the gear and necessities to compete at the level I’m at now. It’s a really slow process for most people for that reason.
So, it was off and on, off and on. I got into IDPA, which is where a lot of people start out because it’s scenario-based. Women really like to get into scenario-based training where they feel they’re replicating real life scenarios, because most women get into guns for self-defense. That’s why most women who own guns and are interested in competing tend to gravitate toward IDPA first and foremost.
From there, being young and athletic, I went toward a more athletic sport for shooting, which is USPSA. USPSA is more gear-heavy, gamey, and competitive. That’s where I really thrived, in the competition environment.
ED: When was that, if you can remember?
RS: It’s hard to pin down timelines. It happened over about a five-year period. I shot maybe three matches that first year. Now I shoot about three matches a month. It was hard training in the beginning, because I didn’t start out with all the stuff I needed. The guns were the bare minimum, not ideal. The clothes and shoes were not the right thing.
You go out to these matches and you see people with everything they need, perfectly situated. That stuff is not cheap. It’s like an arsenal you build up over time, both the guns and the gear. Back then, I was shooting with stuff I bought at Academy. It was frustrating, because you can’t really be competitive that way. But I just really enjoyed the sport.
So then, I dabbled in 3-gun, but really it was 2 gun. I would go to 3-gun matches but I didn’t own the right shotgun. There was one match where I borrowed a shotgun, but mostly I went out with two guns to 3-gun matches that were 2-gun friendly.
I built my AR-15 around 2012 when we were having a Sure Shots build class. Because of price gouging at the time, my lower receiver was like $300. I literally built the most expensive AR you can imagine because of the gouging. When I built it, I was super excited to go to 3-gun matches, but still didn’t have a shotgun.
I did that for a while, started to get into it and to think about buying a shotgun. I started shooting steel matches out at a local club, which improved my game tremendously. It’s just a fun local match, but the falling steel, the spinners, plate racks, par times and all that super technical pistol work, made me a much better pistol shooter. I shot a Springfield XD(M) in competition for years.
Then I got pregnant, had my baby, and stopped shooting for more than a year. After that, I decided I was ready to get back into it and do what I wanted to do, which was 3-gun, get sponsors, and go to major matches as a competitive shooter. My life and finances had come together in such a way that I could finally do what I wish I could have done 10 years ago.
ED: You would have needed a sponsorship back then?
RS: Yes. It was a hard time economically, and I had to build my career. I didn’t have the time either. But I eventually did land a full-time job in biopharmaceuticals. The focus was on my career a lot.
Now I’m in a way more laid-back job. But I have two other jobs, as armed security and a private investigator. And I have a toddler. I’m busy! I’m a single mom, so I rely heavily on my mom and sister to watch my daughter for a few hours when I shoot matches. They get time with her, and I get time for myself. It’s been therapeutic for me in a lot of ways, and has enhanced my enjoyment of the sport.
So, I’ve started shooting 3-gun, got hooked up with a shotgun and new parts for my rifle. I’ve been borrowing Jonathan Foo’s CZ since last May and am really into that gun. It’s a CZ SP 01 Shadow, which is kind of a unicorn now that the Shadow 2s are out. It’s the gun equivalent of the Hatori Hanso sword in “Kill Bill.”
Foo had three people work on the trigger to get it to where it is. That gun and I flow together really well. Strangely, I had a decrease in performance before I started to improve with the metal platform, just because I was so used to wrestling that polymer XDm. I’m finally getting used to the flow of this gun and getting to where I want to be with it.
I’ve also got my Hayes Custom Benelli M2, which is really sweet. I’ve got all my gear, and I’m out there shooting 3-gun matches. I’m also doing run-and-gun biathlon-style competitions now, which is really becoming my bread and butter.
ED: We’ll do a full interview on run-and-gun. Plus, gear, training women, self-defense training, how you manage competitive shooting with being a single mom, and about a hundred other things I want to ask you about, if you’re OK with that.
RS: Looking forward to it!