Maggie Ehmann never knows what might cross her mind as she lines up her next shot.
She might think of song lyrics or quotes from her favorite movies. Recently, her thoughts have turned to Christmas morning and the possibilities it holds.
Despite the scores she’s posted this year as the newest ace of the ongoing Patch marksmanship dynasty, Ehmann is no machine. She’s your typical 15-year-old high school sophomore, prone to the same mood swings and distractibility that afflict her peers. A rough day at school, or conversely, a particularly great day at school, threatens to jostle her focus and throw off her aim.
“That can be a big problem for me,” Ehmann said.
Competitors across Europe would love to have Ehmann’s kind of problems on the shooting range.
Saturday, at a home meet disrupted by inclement weather and the resulting no-shows, Ehmann edged aside stray movie quotes and notions of holiday cheer and coldly set crosshairs to target. On a day fraught with excuses for allowing one’s attention to wander, Ehmann was at her sharpest.
The returning Panthers co-captain shot a 99 from prone position and 97 from kneeling position, both good for individual first-place finishes in those categories. Her 94 points from standing position, for many shooters the most challenging of the three, tied for first, matching teammate Erika Hoffman.
Ehmann’s 290-point overall total gave her a comfortable nine-point margin over the field, such as it was. It also represented a personal overall best, a feat more significant to Patch’s ethos of incremental individual improvement leading to continued team success.
In her moment of triumph, Ehmann’s only letdown was the missed opportunity to line up alongside her peers from the three teams unable to make the trip to Stuttgart.
“I was kind of disappointed,” Ehmann said, “because I really love shooting with all the other schools.”
That’s the kind of emotion Ehmann is learning to effectively manage. Patch coach Raul Pinon encourages his shooters to enjoy themselves, which doesn’t always come naturally in a sometimes tedious sport that values traits like patience, concentration and stillness.
“If there’s something that you’re more interested in,” Pinon tells his charges, “then go do that.”
That’s not an issue for Ehmann.
“I’ve always loved to shoot,” Ehmann said. “I have to have fun with it, and I do.”