Issue 40 Zeroed In: Cheyenne Dalton Mike Landers This article originally appeared in RECOIL Issue 40 Photos by Jason Connel Aiming for the Future Junior Shooter Cheyenne Dalton Brings Her Youthful Energy to an Industry Under Fire Much has been said about millennials, and in many cases, the generation that defines that term might beg to differ with the negative connotations. We’ve heard this rhetoric for a while now. “Millennials are lazy.” “They only like technology.” “They don’t like to go outside.” RECOIL would like to introduce you to a young woman who might take issue with those and other millennial stereotypes. In fact, this one is as comfortable being a shooter as she is being behind a computer. Her name is Cheyenne Dalton, and if this is your introduction to her, you’ll certainly be glad you got to know her. The Missourian is a state title holder in Rimfire, a two-time Rimfire World Championship title holder in the Limited Lady Category. She also competes in USPSA three-gun and Rimfire Challenge. While her already impressive resume continues to stack up, this 17-year-old is more than a young talent — she’s an asset for the industry as her goals extend far beyond the trophies. “Shooting has given me so many opportunities in life that I would have never have had if I hadn’t started shooting,” says Cheyenne. “I get to travel so much, and I get to see so much of the world. But I have met so many amazing people through the industry and they’ve always been so kind to me, and I’m so thankful that I was just kind of accepted. I find it so crazy to me that young girls come up to me at Shot Show or the NRA, and they’re like, ‘I want to get a picture with you, and I started shooting because of you.’ That is just the coolest thing to me, and I don’t know, I can’t imagine my life without shooting.” Her role as industry ambassador, while not something she planned, is something she takes very seriously, taking cues from the likes of Julie Golob. “I’ll never quit shooting. That’s for sure. I want to keep at it as long as I can and do as much as I can to help grow the industry.” Active on social media, her Instagram handle @cheyennedaltonshoots might be as influential as her pistol handling when it comes to inspiring others to get involved with shooting. “It’s so inspiring to me to think that someone saw what I was doing and thought, ‘I could do that, too’ and because of that maybe there’s a new person in the industry or a new gun supporter and that just is so amazing to me.” Music is a big part of Cheyenne’s life. She travels the country with her Bluegrass band “That Dalton Gang.” Bound for college next year with plans on continuing shooting on a scholarship, Cheyenne’s calendar also fills up with music. “I enjoy playing bluegrass music with my band That Dalton Gang. I play violin, mandolin, guitar, and upright bass. I started playing violin when I was 5, and it has blossomed into quite a career. I turned 17 this year, and I am enjoying the freedom of being able to drive myself to wherever I need to go.” Wherever young Cheyenne Dalton decides to go, you can bet that shooting will go with her and that our industry will be better for it. RECOIL: Tell us about how you first got involved with competitive shooting? Cheyenne Dalton: My competitive shooting started when I was about 12. My mom went to take a concealed carry class from a guy who just lived north of us, but his daughter was out there helping to teach the class and she started talking to my mom and asked if she might have any kids who would be interested in getting into competitive shooting. So I went up there and I took two lessons from her and went to the Iowa State Rimfire Championship and I won High Lady. So that’s where my competitive shooting started, but I always would go out and plink around with my dad with our little Henry lever-action .22. So I guess obviously you seem to have kind of a natural knack if you finish that well after just a couple lessons. How did that inspire you to go forward? What did you do next? CD: The fact that I had won something, it was just so cool and I’m like, “I want to keep doing this and keep going.” So I did and the more that I got into it, the more I realized I’m not going to be the very top shooter all of the time, and that’s OK because I want to be a good example and a good role model and show other younger girls and women that they can do this too! School is a priority for Cheyenne. By taking dual credit courses she plans on entering college as a sophomore. How has social media helped you to reach non-shooters or those very people where you’re talking about? CD: There were a bunch of junior shooters that kind of started around the same time I did and so the thing at the time was to get a competitive shooter Facebook page. So I did that and I started posting and eventually it moved toward Instagram. I didn’t really expect to go anywhere with that, but people seem to relate with me, maybe because I am just a girl who shoots, but it’s interesting. I get messages from women, or even like a husband or boyfriend, and they’re like, “My wife saw you on Instagram and she’s like, ‘I want to try that,’” and so now they’re actually out there and they’ve gotten into competitive shooting or maybe even shot a gun for the first time. That’s awesome, and it might be an unfair burden for people like yourself because you get a different sort of level of responsibility, but at the same token, maybe you’re that much more inspirational for people who haven’t shot? CD: Yeah, you know, a lot of husbands will try and take their wives out and that just doesn’t work generally. If a man, like a husband, is trying to teach their wife how to shoot, he has his own ways and the ways he likes to shoot, but sometimes for a woman it’s different. We’re smaller and we handle recoil differently and just generally, a man trying to teach a woman does not work that well, so you know, it’s great that people like Julie Golob are out here. There’s a whole bunch of other tutors that are helping other women get started as well, so I love it. Are there any kind of parallels between your hobby of music and your hobby of shooting? CD: Yeah. I feel that both shooting and music take a lot of drive and lot of effort and you cannot be lazy with either. I started playing classical violin when I was 4 years old, and so from a very young age, I was taught to have a lot of drive and when things get hard to not just give up — you have to keep pushing. Because there are times you’re going to plateau and you’re just going to feel like giving up, but you can’t do that. A fast trigger finger is always a plus! Now which one were you more nervous: your first rimfire competition or the first time That Dalton Gang took the stage? CD: Well, here’s a little fun fact about me. When I was like younger, I don’t do this anymore luckily, before I would play a show or shoot a match, I’d throw up. I don’t remember how nervous I was at our very first show, as I was very young, but I’d say I’m equally nervous for both things. What else do you do outside of shooting to take a break? CD: I really don’t have a lot of time to do other things besides music, shooting, and school. I’m a senior, I’m homeschooled, but I’m taking all my classes through a college near me. And I have gotten an offer for a full ride scholarship for college next year, and I’m super excited. When I do have time, I love to go shopping, and I like to fish. We have a pretty large farm, so I can go fishing and just be out in the woods. I like to hike, I like to cook and bake, so you know, I’ll just do those things when I’m not just busy all the time. How do you juggle doing schoolwork and then shooting? CD: I have two planners; one planner is for music and shooting. I’ll put down the weekends we’re going to be gone, when we’re going to have practices, and then I have one planner that’s just dedicated to school, so I’ll put down when my classes are, when homework’s due, each day when I need to get stuff done. So honestly, being good at managing your time, for me, is very important and I’ve taken a couple classes that have really helped me because I used to be a really bad procrastinator. A lot of junior shooters move on to college and they kind of decrease the number of competitions they’re in naturally and things like that. What do you plan to do after high school? CD: I’m currently 17, and I have accepted that full ride offer and I’m actually going to shoot shotgun for the college. I’m going to be going into something different that I really haven’t done before, but I’m excited to try something new, so I don’t really have to give up my shooting. After I’m out of college, I don’t know what’s going to happen, I might really enjoy the trap and skeet side of things and stick with that. I don’t know, I’ll just see what happens. Learning how her guns work and how to properly maintain them is important to Cheyenne. What drew you to rimfire and three-gun in terms of the platform and those competitions? CD: I started with rimfire, so I’ll always kind of have a place in my heart for that. If I was going to start any one or junior in competitive shooting, I would definitely choose that. All you need is a .22 rifle and .22 pistol; each stage is between five and seven targets. It’s generally pretty easy to pick up on, in my opinion, because you just stand there, it’s stationary, and you just look at your targets and shoot them as fast as you can. I love it, to me rimfire is kind of a nice break, because in three-gun in USPSA you have so much going on with stage planning and with three-gun, you got three different guns, you have to plan out your stage and how much ammo you need for each gun for each stage. It takes a lot of brain power and a lot of strategy, but with rimfire you just stand there and shoot and you just go as fast as you can, so that’s why I think that’s a lot of fun. Walk me through some of your competition experiences from your perspective, obviously there’s stuff on the website that I can pull, but I always like to get the cool stories of some of your competitions. CD: I won the Lady’s Limited Rimfire World Championship Title two times, but one of my favorite titles that I won was the Alabama State Rimfire Championship. I won High Lady overall, and I was really worried because I thought I had a pretty good shot at it, but I’m pretty hard on myself. I went and started shooting, and I had a couple of jams in some of my guns. Usually, that’s all it takes to ruin your chances so I was like oh well, darn it, I guess it’ll just be a lot of fun to finish the match. At the end, when they called first place and it was me, I just could not believe it! I think that was definitely one of my favorite matches that I’ve shot. How do you keep training fun? Do you shoot with adults as well? CD: So my dad is the one who kind of helps me with the shooting. We’re just kind of big jokesters, and we just joke around and keep everything happy and just keep going. But yeah, definitely there are days when you’re just like, “I’m just so done; I don’t want to practice, but you still have to go out there and do it.” Who would you consider your biggest mentor? CD: Definitely Julie Golob. From the moment that I got into competitive shooting, she’s just the one I’ve looked up to and she’s been so kind to me. She’s just the nicest person you’ll meet, and she just knows so much about the industry. Actually, I got to be on a season of Love At First Shot with her by the NRA. And got to hang out with her or a week. I mean she’s always talked to me and she’s kind of mentored me a little bit about the business side of things … she’s such a great role model for women and young girls. I want to be like her when I grow up. One of her favorite places! It’s always nice to open the Liberty safe and see all of this ballistic beauty. Proper firearms storage is also very important to Cheyenne. That’s quite the goal to aspire to, she’s awesome! You mentioned her business sense. How did that help rub off on you? CD: She helps me figure contracts for my sponsorships; she helps judge opportunities. She’s helped me a lot with that and figuring analytics and what’s the right kind of content to post so, she’s just very knowledgeable on the business end of things. What companies have you partnered with for sponsorships? CD: CORE Rifle Systems make my ARs. I shoot for STI International; they make the 2011 pistols. I also shoot for Volquartsen Firearms; they make my .22 pistols and rifles. I also shoot for Beretta Shotguns. I think those are all the firearm. I also work with Vortex Optics, American Trigger Corporation, Weber Tactical, Hogue, Harris & Sons, Kershaw Knives, Action Target, and also Liberty Safe. Let’s talk about your collection a little bit, some of your favorite pieces, where you got them, what you typically like to use? CD: For three-gun, I shoot a CORE Rifle, it’s the one that you’ve probably seen on my website, on my Instagram, and it’s painted like an American flag. That was the very first AR I ever shot and even though I’ve gotten new ones from them, I just keep going back to it; it’s so reliable, it’s so accurate, I love it so much. For three-gun, I shoot an STI DVC three-gun model, I also shoot the DVC Limited model, but I love those pistols, they are so nice, such high quality. I used to shoot Glocks and going from a Glock to a custom 2011 is the difference between night and day. It’s awesome. For shotgun, I shoot a Beretta 12-gauge shotgun; it’s really great. It fits me super well; it fits my face amazingly. I bring it up and it works. For my .22s, a Volquartsen Ultra Light rifle, and I shoot a Volquartsen Scorpion pistol. Is there anything that your dad passed down to you or any, kind of, family pieces that you have? CD: I have the Henry lever action .22, that was the first gun I ever shot. It’s pretty cool. We have a lot of guns, so I don’t get much time to just kind of plink around with our family guns. Living on a farm, Cheyenne has lots of room to roam. How do you cope with all the negative publicity from the anti-gun people who think you shouldn’t be involved with guns or shouldn’t be involved at such a young age? CD: There’s a lot of that. I was actually featured in the New Yorker magazine earlier this year. And there was an article and there was a picture of me with both my ARs. We knew what we were getting into, so with negativity I just don’t pay attention to it because for every negative comment, there’s a positive one. And with the New Yorker, there were several people who messaged me were like, “Hey, so we saw you were in there and didn’t really agree with you, but we decided to look more into what you do, and we think that’s super cool.” It just kind of opened their eyes a little bit, I guess. What really gets me is all the comments that are like, “Oh she’s going to go shoot up a school or something.” That’s absolutely horrible and if people would just take a minute to look at what we do and all the safety and the rules that are involved, they would realize how safe the sport is actually is. All the negativity, I just brush it off. It really doesn’t bother me. What would you say to people who are kind of skeptics about the industry and about firearms? CD: I would say if you’re kind of down on competitive shooting sports, you should definitely go watch a couple matches, see what goes on. Same thing goes for if you’re trying to get into competitive shooting, before you go out and buy any gear or go buy a gun, you need to go to the matches and watch some of them. I would say they should open their minds and learn about it, not just judge without knowing anything. Who are some of your favorite shooters in the industry or people that you get to compete with and stuff? CD: One of my very best friends in the shooting world is Sydney Rockwell, and she’s another junior. I believe she’s still 17 as well, and she’s just kind of always been there; she shoots three-gun with me. She’s so nice and she’s also really interested in getting other juniors and more women into the sport. I love her and she’s so good at shooting, it blows my mind to watch her. Kolby Pavlock, I think he is 18 or 19, and he shoots rimfire with me, he’s also on the Volquartsen team. He’s one of my best friends; we can go to matches, we have a good time anywhere. And one fun thing about the friends I have in the industry is when we all go to Las Vegas for Shot Show or like the NRA show, it’s so fun because we’re all there and we can hang out. It’s important to hang around with people who kind of have similar goals as you or want to do well like you. If you hang around with people who just don’t care, then you’re going to end up not caring very much and not trying as hard to do the best that you can. It’s so important to hang around other people who have aspirations like you. If you had to describe what shooting has brought to your life, what would you say? CD: Shooting has given me so many opportunities in life that I would have never have had if I hadn’t started shooting. I get to travel so much and I get to see so much of the world. But I have met so many amazing people through the industry and they’ve always been so kind to me and I’m so thankful that I was just kind of accepted. I find it so crazy to me that young girls come up to me at Shot Show or the NRA, and they’re like, “I want to get a picture with you and I started shooting because of you.” That is just the coolest thing to me and I don’t know, I can’t imagine my life without shooting. Cheyenne Dalton Age: 17 Hometown: Lockwood, MO Favorite book: I love the Twilight series Favorite quote: “Get busy living or get busy dying.” — Stephen King Family: Mom, Jennifer; dad, Terry; brother, Cody; sister, Maddie Dream gun: I own all my dream guns URL: www.cheyennedalton.com Cheyenne’s EDC: My phone and a charger because I’m a teenager, and I have to keep up with my social media. A pack of gum — I’m like obsessed with gum of any kind. I do have an inhaler because you know, sometimes asthma just hits me, and oh I keep some Chapstick, I can’t actually carry a gun yet, but I always have a pocketknife with me. And my wallet, I guess, that’d be all that’s in there. 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