Doris Bush of Carbondale is the first
to admit she was no Annie Oakley in 2005.
It's not that guns were totally foreign to her.
"I'd gone turkey hunting with Clark (her husband), but didn't shoot anything," she said. "If carrying a gun counts ?"
However, after watching her husband set a 20-gauge world record at the World Still Target Shooting Championships sponsored by the National Wild Turkey Federation in 2005, she thought she'd give the sport a try.
The competition consists of a 40-yard shot from a seated position without any type of support for the gun. The object is to put the most pellets within a three-inch circle.
"I was traveling around with him for several years and I always like to make good use of my time," she said. "There were a few other women shooting and I said I'd like to try it."
She did more than that. Within a year she set a world record in the World Still Target Shooting Championship in the 20-gauge division. She put 30 pellets in a three-inch circle from 40 yards.
In addition, Doris won the ladies' 20-gauge world championship in 2007.
How do you explain that instant success?
"Like most women, I listen well," Doris said, raising an eyebrow and shooting a glance at her husband. "I listened well and didn't have bad habits already. I tried to do exactly what he told me."
Despite the earlier gig, Clark is obviously proud of his wife's accomplishments.
"I knew she would do well," her husband said. "She's very, very competitive. Almost a year to the day later, she set a world record for women. She's shot for two years and set a world record and won a world championship."
Doris said she enjoyed the sport from the moment she picked up a gun.
"I'm slightly competitive," she said, again with a raised eyebrow. "I enjoy a challenge. It's fun to get up there and wait until everything is exactly right. It's like a game, or a puzzle."
Her background as a musician probably also helped her quick ascent.
"She is very precise," Clark said. "Everything has to be exactly right.
"When she goes up to shoot, it's exactly the same every time. If you look at a photograph or a video of her one time, you've seen her every time."
And, when it's time to compete, Doris prepares herself the same way every time.
"I get up there and I sit and meditate until it's my turn," she said. "I pray a lot and envision all the shot going into the target. You don't want to rush anything.
"I think just being willing to sit there until I feel it is the right time to shoot, not being anxious to get it over with and just waiting for all the circumstances to be right."
The Bushes are the only husband and wife team to simultaneously hold a world record in the World Still Target Shooting events. Clark said as far as he knows, that distinction is also true of other competitions.
What makes Doris' success more incredible is she has accomplished those feats shooting a Remington 870.
"That's about a $250 shotgun," Clark said. "So many people can be intimidated by the shooting sports thinking you have to have some kind of expensive gun, and you don't."
Being the competitive person she is, Doris has re-adjusted her goals.
"This year, I'd like to win both 20-gauge categories and then next year the 12-gauge open," she said.
Les Winkeler is the sports editor of the Southern Illinoisan. This article first appeared in the Southern Illinoisan March 28, 2008.