DAKOTA OVERLAND

At an age when most of her peers are still learning gun safety, Dakota Overland is putting her shooting skills to the test in multiple competitive disciplines.

Dakota Overland is a perfect ambassador for the shooting sports among youths across the nation. Engaging and polite, the Minnesota teen and Federal Premium-sponsored shooter is an avid hunter and ambitious competitor who regularly participates in United States Practical Shooting Association (USPSA) pistol matches, 3-gun matches, and shooting with her High School Clay Target Trap team.

A Natural Progression

Overland enjoys trapshooting, but says tactical matches offer another exciting twist to the sport. “My dad and I checked out a nordic tactical shooting match at the Forest Lake Sportsmen’s Club in 2015, and I knew immediately that was something I wanted to do,” she says.

Three-gun competitions are one of the fastest growing shooting sports. As the name implies, competitors wield a trio of different firearms—a MSR, pistol and shotgun. Adding to the excitement, shooters traverse courses offering a chance to engage targets in a variety of shooting positions.

“There’s more action than trapshooting, more movement, and a little more challenge,” she explains.

Overland eased into the 3-gun format, and recommends other budding shooters do the same. “I started out in a tactical shotgun match,” she says. “That was really fun, although I was shooting a 20 gauge at the time, which made it challenging to deal with the heavy knockdown pipes at our local range.”

“ I recommend new shooters start with one type of firearm, such as pistol, and focus on mastering that before jumping into the entire 3-gun scenario.”

She soon moved up to a 12 gauge, then tried her hand at pistol events. “From there I went to 3-gun competitions. It was a great way to gradually work up to this kind of event. I recommend new shooters start with one type of firearm, such as pistol, and focus on mastering that before jumping into the entire 3-gun scenario.”

Discipline & Dedication

Since she began competitive shooting, Overland has participated in numerous local and major matches. Her schedule, which she says typically includes two to three weekly local matches and five major shoots each season, has taken the ambitious teen on a whirlwind tour of some of the country’s top ranges.

“It isn’t easy—and I like that.”

Along with the thrill of rapid-fire competition, Overland enjoys the sport’s challenge and camaraderie among shooters. “It isn’t easy—and I like that,” she says. “Improving my scores has been my favorite accomplishment to date, but I also enjoy meeting new people and getting to know them.”

To hone her skills, she maintains a rigorous practice regimen that includes plenty of range time and weekly sessions with her pistol coach. She also has pursued training opportunities such as advanced 3-gun courses, national range officer certification and junior shooting camps.

And just to make sure she doesn’t get rusty during the off season, she hones her shotgun skills during Minnesota’s infamous winters by participating in a heated five-stand league.

“I really like to shoot,” she grins.

Reaching Out

Overland also enjoys giving back to the community and encouraging other youths to try the shooting sports, although she’s careful not to push kids into something that might not be right for them. “I definitely recommend it if—and only if—they want to give it a try,” she says. “Because having fun is one of the biggest parts of the shooting sports. If you’re not having fun, then it’s not for you.”

As if that weren’t enough, Overland is also an advocate for firearms owners of all ages. In July of 2016 she represented Minnesota in the DC Project with her mother, Tiffany Overland. The nonpartisan project brought 50 women from 50 states to Washington, D.C., to establish relationships with legislators and reveal the faces and stories of female firearms owners and 2nd Amendment supporters.

“Because having fun is one of the biggest parts of the shooting sports. If you’re not having fun, then it’s not for you.”

Looking ahead, Overland’s goals include more of the same. “I want to continue shooting different disciplines and keep improving no matter what,” she says.

Considering her passion for the sport and dedication to her craft, it’s a safe bet she’ll hit these targets, and that the shooting world will see more great things from this talented and hard-working young gun.