BEAVERTON – County Commissoner Sharron Smith should be used to being a woman of respect in a seemingly male-dominated world. A long-time member of the Gladwin County Commissioners, she is now sitting as the first female Board Chair for the County Commissioners. In addition she holds multiple awards and records for her rifle shooting. This includes her recent induction in the National Muzzleloading Rifle Association Hall of Fame – an achievement that many say was a long time coming.
Smith has been involved with the sport of Rifle Shooting alongside her husband, and fellow Hall of Fame member for many years. “It’s just something we’ve done since we got married. We got married Saturday, April 7, 1962, and on Sunday, April 8 at 1 o’clock in the afternoon my husband went to the first club shoot that Tobacco ever had,” Smith said, stating that at the time she figured that if she wanted to see her new husband she would need to learn to shoot.
Smith had grown up around hunting and guns, but she had never shot competitively. Once she started, she realized that not only did she love it, but that she also could become quite good at it through practice, a process she enjoyed. “I was not good when I started. It was a lot more fun working to get better, than it is working to stay at the top,” Smith said.
From the start of her career in the sport, Smith has been involved beyond shooting. “The first thing I ever did was serve on the Rifle Match Committee. They needed a token woman,” Smith laughed. From there she was Chair of the Committee, Territorial Coordinator, and elected to the board nine times – serving 18 years in total as both the Board Secretary and the Vice President. She also wrote the book for the Education Committee for the organization, and served as a member of the Scholarship Committee.
Smith helped to grow the NMLRA’s scholarship fund from $10,000 to $70,000., which Smith said is one of her biggest blessings.
Throughout her years being involved int he NMLRA, Smith’s favorite aspect of the sport and organization has always been the people. The NMLRA has given Smith and her husband a family beyond blood. They raised their family in the sport and the organization, and Smith says that the friends that they’ve met over the years have become family to them. “Our kids grew up in it, it’s a good life”
The sport draws participants from all over the world, allowing Smith to form friendships with people she never may have met otherwise. “My first Christmas card always comes from my buddy in Australia,” Smith said.
Given the close bonds that the sport helps to foster, it is appropreiate that the NMLRA’s homebase is located in Friendship, IN – a town of 75 people, that twice a year grows to 10,000 when the NMLRA holds their yearly events.
Since Smith joined the NMLRA in 1974, she has routinely competed, breaking records all along the way. But the records that she always had her eye on were her husbands.
“At one time I said to Richard, ‘Is it going to bother you if I beat you at shooting?’ He said, ‘No, I’d be very proud,’ I said, ‘Good, because you’re the one I’m going to try and beat,” Smith said.
“Every female that I know that’s a really good shooter, always had a significant other supporter,” Smith said.
Smith has twice won shooting competitions that were traditionally just for men, with her husband coming in second place.
From talking to Smith, it is easy to see her love and appreciation for her husband of 57 years, and her gratitude for their lifetime of partnership. “We competed at shooting instead of competing at being married,” Smith said.
Smith, her husband and their family have created a wonderful tradition of rifle shooting, and have gone to Friendship, IN twice a year for the last 45 years, giving her a chance to reconnect with the friends that they’ve made, and as always continue to shoot. “The NMLRA gave me just an unbelieveable life.”
After such a long and wonderful career in the sport, being inducted into the Hall of Fame alongside her husband is a fitting tribute, but not one that Smith never imagined would happen. “It’s not something you set out to do,” Smith said. But nevertheless, she did, and undoubtedly Smith will continue to break records, win championships, and show people over half her age how the sport really is shot, all while knowing that it’s all about family.