By SAMANTHA PERRY
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
A look of concentration etched on her young face, Brittany Long quickly pulls the .9mm Glock from a holster on her side and fires at two side-by-side targets several feet away. The sound of gunfire shatters the crisp autumn air. As she holsters the weapon, a small group of spectators gaze at the gaping holes in the middle of the white paper.
After making sure the pistol is unloaded, the pretty, blond-haired teen — sporting pink ear muffs for hearing protection — places it on a table and picks up an AR-15 rifle. Once again, she fires at the targets. And, like before, her aim is true.
Per safety guidelines, she unloads the rifle and lays it aside before picking up her final firearm of the day — a Mossberg 12-gauge shotgun. Aiming at the targets, she quickly fires, reloads and fires again. A multitude of holes pierce the center of the papers adorned with the black outline of human shapes.
Standing 20 feet behind Brittany, Mom and Dad time her shots and smile proudly at the teen’s shooting skills.
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Brittany Long is no ordinary 13 year old. The Princeton Middle School eighth grader is quickly making a name for herself as a sharpshooting phenom in competitive marksmanship circles.
Last week, Brittany earned a third-place spot in the Beckley Gun Club 3-Gun Nation club series. In layman’s terms, this means the polite, eloquent teen beat out a host of gun enthusiasts from southern West Virginia — including law enforcement personnel and correctional officers — to rank in the top three spots.
“Three-gun” refers to the three types of weapons used in the competition — pistols, rifles and shotguns.
“You shoot one string of fire with one type then ground it, then run to the next weapon and shoot,” Brittany explained. Scores are based on accuracy and speed. In a recent competition, Brittany placed 14th — a good score when one realizes she is competing against state troopers, county deputies and firearms’ enthusiasts who have been shooting since before the teen was born.
Cumulative rankings place Brittany third in the series — one of only a few females in the mix, and the only youth female.
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The daughter of U.S. Marshal Karen Long and Cpl. James Long, of the Princeton detachment of the West Virginia State Police, Brittany began shooting at the young age of four when she received her first .22 caliber Crickett rifle. At age nine she began shooting competitively.
In her short career the teen has already amassed accolades, including “High Lady Honors” in a Glock-Endura match.
Asked to name the firearms she has shot, Brittany smiles shyly and begins to rattle off a list. “A .22, Glock .9 mm model, I’ve shot my dad’s .45, my shotgun, my AR-15 223, and I’ve also shot an AR-15 22 and Glock .10 and .45s.”
Recently, Brittany and her family traveled to Martinsburg to watch a competition in which Jerry Miculek — international revolver champion for 20 years in a row — participated.
The Long family met the Miculeks, who were impressed by Brittany’s skill and determination at such a young age. They invited the Princeton teen to participate in the Rockcastle Pro-Am match in Kentucky in August 2014.
Looking toward the future, Brittany’s eyes light up. “I am hoping one day to be sponsored by gun companies like Randi Rogers,” a world and nationally ranked competitive shooter.
“Both of my parents taught me how to shoot competitively,” she said, noting how her dad is also a competitive shooter, but both parents support her when she competes.
Asked if she has ever beaten her dad in competition, or come close to it, Brittany smiles demurely and answers, “A couple of times. I’m working on it.”
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Looking toward the future, Brittany envisions a career in the field of criminal justice, following the path of her parents. “I’m thinking of going federal — a prosecutor, and maybe a judge one day.
“Maybe in college I can do three-gun competitions and be sponsored on a team to help pay for school.”
Brittany’s goal is to attend West Virginia University’s law school.
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At present time, Brittany is a busy teen. Along with shooting competitions, she also plays basketball and soccer, sings, is a member of the student council, plays flute in the band and helps her dad, who teaches conceal carry classes.
Previously, she played football in a youth league, boxed and was a dancer. “I used to dance at Princeton Dance Theater until sixth grade,” she said. “I haven’t been able to go back (since then). I’ve been pretty busy.”
The perky teen, who consistently makes the A-B honor roll, has also been asked to sing at the Shriners’ banquet and at convocation events. She also plans to do volunteer work, singing at local nursing homes.
And she also hunts. Last year Brittany killed her first deer — with a pistol.
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Brittany and her father have been shooting together competitively for three to four years.
“Shooting brings family together ..,” she said. “Some of my first memories are shooting with my dad.”
Many of Brittany’s close friends have attended matches and watched her compete. They think “it’s cool,” and are impressed with the teen’s talent.
Brittany, however, simply considers herself to be fortunate.
“I am blessed to have family that supports me, and the ability to do things. I thank God every day,” she said.
— Contact Perry at firstname.lastname@example.org.