Adrianna Beard shoots precision air rifle on national stage

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MEDALS: Adrianna supports one of her rifles on her shoulders while showing off many of her medals. Over the course of her career she has collected even more than what is shown but they couldn’t all fit on the gun.

TARGET: A typical target during a match is shown above. Competitors are given 75 minutes for 60 shots each match, Adrianna says she usually comes off the line with seven to eight minutes to go. (Camille Berko)

From a casual conversation with friendly and cheery junior Adrianna Beard, you’d never guess that she competitively shoots precision air rifle and small-bore at the national level.

Spend a little more time with her and you’ll notice her carefully chosen words and soft, steady tone. As you pick up that’s she’s extremely calm and collected it all begins to make sense. These traits are indicative of her sport. 

“She’s got a sense of humor,” Adrianna’s father, John Beard said. “She’ll try to out dad joke me but with shooting, it’s very different. It’s not about how strong or how fast you are, it how calm and consistent you are. It’s one of the cool things it teaches and really reinforces.”

Adrianna was exposed to guns from a young age, which is what eventually led to her love for competitive shooting. 

“My interest in shooting happened when I was younger because my dad hunts a lot,” Adrianna said. “I was four or five and he would pick me up after school to go site in his hunting rifles and that was the first time I was around guns.”

Adrianna also had the opportunity to watch her older sister compete, which introduced her to the sport. 

She’s always been very, very competitive with her sister,” John said. “[Adrianna] would do stuff she didn’t even like just to compete against her sister and shooting, I believe, largely started off that way.”

Despite only starting to challenge her sister,  Adrianna quickly found herself increasingly interested and involved. 

FIRST PLACE: Above is a medal from the NRA Sectionals in February 2020 in small-bore shooting. During the match, Adrianna shot a personal best of 569/600. (Camille Berko)

“I started competing around nine or ten because that was when I was allowed to,” Adrianna said. “From there I started training at Michigan State and then we moved to Hillsdale then I started practicing at Hillsdale and then COVID hit and now everyone just practices on their own.”

Adrianna deceivingly lists those seven or eight years as though there was nothing special about them. 

But the truth is that they were far from uneventful. 

During her training she’s had the opportunity to compete against some of the best in the nation on a regular basis, walk up to and ask Olympians for tips and tricks and even make a debut at the Junior Olympics in Colorado Springs.

John says it’s been an amazing journey to watch.

“She’s just a very driven girl and it’s neat to watch,” John said. “She’s going to have some cool opportunities as she goes forward, there’s no doubt about it.”

Even though it might seem like Adrianna’s journey has been one success after another, she’s put an enormous amount of effort in behind the scenes. 

I’ve been running a lot more because cardiovascular endurance is really good for shooting. It helps me control my heart rate and control my breathing which is super important in shooting because everything is about muscle memory. ”

— Adrianna Beard

She has had to continuously work to improve her mindset because any slip in concentration can cost a shot. Adrianna and her family joke that she does competitive yoga instead of shooting because it’s all about having the right headspace.

“I get into a zone while I’m shooting where I’m not thinking about anything else,” Adrianna said. “I’m only thinking about this shot, out of of 60 shots, this shot matters. My last shot doesn’t matter, my next shot doesn’t matter, I just need to be focused on this one.”

Because it takes such great mental concentration, it might come as a surprise that Adrianna can use shooting as an outlet, but just like many other athletes, she finds solace in her sport. 

“It’s a really good stress relief for me,” Adrianna said. “I have to focus on one thing and it’s hit the target every single time and it’s a very repetitive process so I have to be super consistent and it just keeps me focused on one thing.”

Throughout her career, Adrianna has become very efficient at maintaining her focus which improves her performance.

She hopes to have the opportunity to bring her talents to the college level, and she’s currently looking into a selection of Division I schools and the Coast Gaurd Academy but has not made any final decisions. 

The Olympics are also on her radar but Adrianna doesn’t want to lose sight of the rest of her life by only focusing on qualifying for them. 

After college, she would like to become involved in coaching. 

“I think that would be fun because I have all this experience and I have a lot of knowledge in the sport so if I could help the younger generation get involved in that too I think it’d be really cool,” Adrianna said. 

It just keeps me focused and it’s a lot of fun. I make a lot of friends and meet a lot of people from other states.”

— Adrianna Beard

Her love for the sport over the years has created big dreams, but none that are out of her reach, especially when you look back on what she’s already done despite her young age. If her past has been this successful, one can only imagine what the future has in store for her. 

 “Everyone wants to watch their kids grow up, be successful and be independent and I get the opportunity to watch that and get the opportunity to be a part of it and travel and do those things,” John said. “It makes me a proud dad, for sure.”