Friday, March 1, 2024

Success in her sights: Local high school sharpshooter is always on target

Liberty Christian senior Macie Page waited patiently for what felt like an eternity to showcase her ridiculously accurate helice shooting skills on a world stage. And when she finally got that opportunity in September, she made sure she didn’t miss.

Page, who turns 18 in February, won a silver medal at the 2022 Helice World Championship in Sicily in early September. Competing on behalf of Team USA, Page was the youngest female competitor and finished regulation in a first-place tie with eventual champion Lindsey Stachurski, who bested Page by one target in a tiebreaker shoot-off.

This was Page’s first trip to Worlds despite qualifying in 2020 and 2021. She missed those events due to COVID-19 restrictions.

“This was the first year that COVID wasn’t a factor, so when I had the chance to go, I told my dad, ‘We have to find a way to go this year,’” Page said. “It was exciting to be there and have that amazing experience.”

Page has been sports shooting since she was 8 years old, starting with standard clay pigeon shooting before developing a love for helice. Also called ZZ bird shooting, helice combines the unpredictable nature of bird hunting with shooting clays. But helice targets have a white plastic “witness cap” with orange wings and are launched randomly from a shooting ring with five launchers.

Once released, each target has a random flight path. Some targets go high and fast, while others stay lower to the ground. The shooter can’t anticipate each target’s launch point like clay shooting and must rely on instinct and reaction ability to shoot accurately. The goal is to separate the witness cap from the orange wings before it travels over the boundary, which is roughly 25 yards away.

Clinton Page, an accomplished sports shooter in his own right, said his daughter fell in love with the sport after years of spending time with him at the range. He’d routinely take Macie or her older sister Morgan with him when Macie was as young as 3 or 4 years old.

“She would push the buttons to throw the targets for me, and every time we’d go, she’d bug me about when she’d be finally old enough to shoot,” Clinton Page said. “I started her around the time she was 8 or 9, and she began competing by 12. She took to the game. We joined the Dallas Gun Club so she could try her hand at helice, and she was a natural right away.”

Listening to Clinton and his wife, Courtney, talk, you’d think Macie could hit targets with her eyes closed. Macie isn’t willing to say any of that is true, but she puts a lot of hard work in with practices three or four days each week. In July, she repeated as the 2022 United States Helice Ladies National Champion and is currently the top-ranked female in the United States.

She’d like to say that she doesn’t get nervous at this stage of her career — but that’s not true, either.

“On the first practice day in Italy, I was incredibly nervous because I had never shot in front of that many people,” Macie said. “So, I did miss the first two or three shots — but that was practice. I got less nervous as we went along, and that’s usually the case when I compete anywhere. In a way, it also helps me. I am competitive, and I’m always trying my best to keep up with everyone else.”

The Denton teen added, “My dad and I are very close because of our love for shooting, and I’m grateful that we have that relationship. I remember telling him that I really enjoyed shooting. We just kept doing more and more of it, and that led to me competing.”

As for the future, Macie is still undecided on her college major but would love to find a university that can give her a great education without sacrificing her love for helice. The door is also open to possibly competing in sports shooting as a career.

“I don’t want to stop shooting,” Macie said. “I know people in their 70s who still shoot with the best of them, so I can see myself doing this for a long time.”

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