Métis sharpshooters: Young B.C. women hope to inspire with love of shooting sports
Two award-winning young women from the Greater Victoria area are making their mark in the world of shooting sports.
Bailey Drinkwalter and Megan McCool have broken into an industry that's been described as an old boys club.
At the Victoria Fish and Game Protective Association Gun Range, most members are men.
"There are very few women and especially there are very few youth," said Drinkwalter.
But these two Métis 18-year-olds aren't just entering into the world of shooting sports, they're excelling in it.
"When you go into competitions or anything, I'm a lot of time the only girl there – and sometimes the only Indigenous person there – and adding that, it gives you extra pressure to do better," said McCool.
McCool is a six-time provincial champ in smallbore rifle competition, and she's won two Premier's Awards of Indigenous Youth Excellence in Sport.
She comes from a family of hunters who encouraged her to get into the sport about five years ago.
"So I did it, and I'm like, 'Wow, I can do this.'"
Drinkwalter says she became interested in shooting because of her grandmother.
"When she was younger she was told that girls aren't allowed to shoot or have 'boy toys' or anything," she said.
But when her grandma, Catherine, had the chance to shoot a black powder rifle, she took it and loved it.
So Drinkwalter followed in her footsteps, picking up a rifle for the first time at age eight.
"It's a lot of fun, especially when you're doing well," she said.
And she has done well. Drinkwalter has picked up accolades in archery and a B.C. Junior Rifle Championship.
The two sharpshooters hope to inspire other young women and Indigenous youth to give it a go.
"It's going to feel really weird that you're the only person that you see, that you're different, but that'll push you further," said McCool.
"Just give it a shot. It's a lot of fun," said Drinkwalter.