Who knew eight-year-old Lena Miculek would one day rise from playing with rocks and dirt to a world-class pro shooter? Lena did. Of course, I’m sure Jerry and Kay Miculek also had an inkling.
Most of us learned of American folk hero, John Henry, in school. In folklore, Henry, born with a hammer in his hand, rose to legendary strength and speed, and bested a steam-powered rock driller as the industrial revolution picked up its mighty pace. Henry’s story was one of destiny, heart, determination, and finally, a single endearing, impactful victory—a life lesson for those of us who know the story.
The beginning of Lena Miculek’s story shares some similarities with Henry’s. Much like Henry’s hammer set the stage (and purpose for his life), Lena was literally born and raised on a shooting range. More specifically on Shootout Lane, in Princeton, Louisiana. If that doesn’t shout destiny, I don’t know what does. Unlike Henry, her initial victory spurred a beginning, not an end, setting her destiny in motion with many chapters of the 26-year-old’s story yet to be written—more championships to claim and new shooters to mentor.
Sure, Lena Miculek loves to shoot, her championships and mentoring continue to fill her dance card with destiny, but what Lena is truly after is becoming a champion at life… making a bigger impact to those she has engaged and/or inspired through her character and accomplishments on and off the range.
Q&A with Lena Miculek
Kevin Reese: As a kid, did you enjoy school or play sports?
Lena Miculek: I was homeschooled and really wasn’t a fan of any subject. What I really wanted was to be outside playing. I did enjoy Taekwondo. I earned my black belt and even competed, but I would make people cry, and I didn’t think there should be crying in fighting.
Kevin Reese: What was your earliest exposure to firearms?
Lena Miculek: I honestly can’t remember ever not being around firearms or shooting. I have always been around it.
Kevin Reese: What was your first shooting competition like?
Lena Miculek: I was eight and my sister was 10. We were competing at the Sportsman Team Challenge. We shot a Ruger 10/22 rifle and a Smith & Wesson Model 41 .22 pistol as a team. I earned a medal the size of my head for being their youngest competitor ever. The following year, they created a sub-junior category.
Kevin Reese: Was it your dad, mom, or both parents who drew you to shooting?
Lena Miculek: It was both parents. Mom took me out more, but both were national and world champions by then. I was just a couple of years old when my father set his first revolver speed-shooting world record. Mom won nationals when she was four months pregnant with me. My grandfather on mom’s side, Jim Clark, Sr., shot competitively, too. He was the first civilian to win the Camp Perry Bullseye Shooting Competition. My dad actually grew up in a family with no guns. He got his first gun, a shotgun, at 16. Mom grew up in a gun shop and shot on school teams.
Kevin Reese: Was the Miculek name helpful or a hindrance in establishing your own credibility?
Lena Miculek: To come in and already have a leg up in the industry was amazing. In competition, to be born into it with two of the best there have ever been, but also for my parents to be complete opposites, has been a blessing. Although they are opposites in what they do and how they operate, they both have achieved their goals of world domination—there are no better examples for me. The one downside comes from people who use my parent’s success to put me down. When I was eight years old, somebody told me I would never be as good as my parents.
Kevin Reese: What titles/awards have you won as a competitive shooter?
Lena Miculek: Some big wins are eight world titles in five shooting disciplines including rifle, shotgun, PCC, 3-gun, and NRA Worlds’ Greatest Shooter, covering 12 shooting disciplines with loaned equipment.
(Author’s note: Lena has won more than 130 major competitions, holds two world records, and recently won a Gundie Award as the Most Influential Female.)
Kevin Reese: What tips or advice can you give us to help readers become more efficient and precise shooters—a balance of speed and precision?
Lena Miculek: When training, I like to say, “Accept the suck.” When you go fast, your accuracy goes to shit. You have to stay in the suck and keep shooting in there, talk positively to yourself, be happy about it, and that’s progress. Fail, fail, and fail again, until you succeed. Create your own perfect score but know you can always do better. That is what it means to live in the suck and be happy about it.
Kevin Reese: What advice would you give to someone just starting competition shooting?
Lena Miculek: Take a pen and paper when you go to your first match. The only thing I can promise you is that anything you want to go right, won’t. At end of the course of fire, if there are skills to work on that can make it better, write it down immediately, put it in your bag, and then work on it. Also, be open to learning. I love the lack of fear of failure kids have. There’s nothing better in life than just boldly jumping into something, and kids are a fantastic example of that.
Kevin Reese: What is your most memorable competitive shooting experience?
Lena Miculek: It was in Russia at the IPSC World Rifle Shoot. I took gold in the Open Ladies Individual division and the Women’s Open Shoot-Off. We also won the Ladies Open Team Gold. Mom was on the team with me, along with Maggie Reese and my best friend Ashley Rheuark. During the national anthem, after winning my individual gold, I looked down to see mom and dad in front with their hands on their hearts, teary-eyed. I was teary-eyed. Representing the U.S. was an amazing honor, and it was made even better standing next to my best friend, Ashley. She had taken silver.
Kevin Reese: As an ambassador of our shooting heritage, what message do you want to convey most to readers?
Lena Miculek: I want people to know the shooting range is an open, accepting, and encouraging place for all. If you don’t find that, find me! The range is my home. It’s where I have bonded with my family, made friends, continue to share my passion, and educate people. It’s a party, and I invite everybody! Once, when I drove up to nationals, I had to borrow everything—pants, pistol ammo, a belt, ear muffs! It’s a competitive world, but it’s a great group of people, too.