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Hook & Barrel
A Lifestyle Magazine for Modern Outdoorsmen

Top Model Mama Who’s Ready To Go The Distance—No Matter The Fight Discipline

Breanna Espina

HOMETOWN: Tathra, New South Wales, Australia


SOCIALS: Instagram @breannaespina

H&B: What was it like growing up in Tathra?

Breanna Espina: I was blessed to grow up in a small coastal town on the far south coast of New South Wales, Australia. We had lakes, beaches, rivers, bays, forests, rainforests, and mountains filled with wildlife. Growing up, I was always testing my limits. We had a lot of land on which to play, and my cousins and I loved our smash-up cars, the dirt bike track, building, climbing, and exploring to get lost and find our way back. We had so much creativity, and it was just limitless fun—I don’t remember a moment of feeling bored.  

You are close to your dad—his family were hunters—what did you learn from him? 

In my eyes, my father embodies the true definition of a man. While some other men see women as a gender with limitations, my father refused that and worked hard to make his daughters stronger to level the playing field. He was always play-fighting to work on our reflexes, asking if we were assessing our surroundings in public spaces, showing us how to hold ourselves in certain environments to dispel trouble, and always being an example of emotional self-regulation.

breanna espina
Breanna Espina’s exciting modeling career has allowed her to travel the world as she dreamed of as a child.

You started out as a model—how did that come about? 

I started modeling when I was 13. It became one of my main hobbies through high school, and then I realized I could use modeling as a tool to see the world. At 19, I signed my first contract in Bangkok, Thailand, and at 21, I took a contract in Manila, Philippines. I was in it purely for the life experience—and because I enjoy photography, the creation of the art, the community it brought me in the studio—more than the result.

What brought you to the U.S.?

I was modeling in Thailand and I traveled to the U.S. frequently on vacations. On one of those trips, I met my ex-husband. He proposed to me within a week of our meeting. Then we got married and had two kids.

How did you get into shooting guns, and is there a person who helped you?

I was already doing multiple martial arts, and I knew I needed another skillset where I didn’t have a strength disadvantage. So, I sought out the best training I could find, which was a company called Defense Strategies run by special operations veterans in Los Angeles. Zack Ferguson, a former Navy SEAL Team 7 veteran, has been my private instructor and is a big factor in my ability to learn so quickly.

breanna espina
There’s more than beauty to Breanna Espina. She knows her way around the shooting range and hopes to empower more women to do the same.

What do you most enjoy about shooting? 

When I’m shooting, I shoot for four hours at a time. It’s tiring—doing various complex drills and not seeing perfection most of the time can be disheartening. But there are two things that keep me going: 1) Seeing a 5-percent increase each day, and 2) Knowing that I’m building a skillset that will protect my children and the community around me in a time of need.

What’s your favorite gun to shoot?

I don’t have a favorite. I like to work with a variety of guns to be good at using all of them, though I did have a blast shooting a Barrett .50 BMG.

You’re a boy mom to two sons—what do you want to teach your boys about shooting?

My sons already do Jiu Jitsu classes three times a week and train at home with their father. They see how their mum trains and shoots guns, and of course, are excited to be allowed to learn themselves. The observation of how they handle their emotions as young men will be a big predictor of when I allow them to train. Emotional regulation is a skill I find more valuable than skills in defense. 

breanna espina shooting
Breanna Espina, like most folks who have a shot at it, thoroughly enjoyed her time behind Barrett’s notorious .50 BMG. And she’s know stranger to running AR-platform rifles at the range, too.

Has your love of shooting and your dad’s love of hunting gotten you interested in hunting? 

Due to strict gun laws in Australia in the ’90s, my father couldn’t teach me how to shoot, but he often told me stories of our family hunting in the past. I think memories of hunting with his family were some of his favorites. He talked about how talented my great-grandfather was and loved to look at his trophies and medals won in both Sydney and Melbourne for rifle shooting competitions.

Talk about the intense training you do (Muay Thai, Jiu Jitsu, Krav Maga, etc). What is the goal of that hard work?

I’m currently learning mostly Muay Thai, Krav Maga, and boxing. When I was traveling the world, I hated the idea of limiting myself because of safety. I never wanted to feel incapable in times of danger. Muay Thai is a great sport to learn as it teaches you how to strike with all parts of your body as opposed to boxing, which limits you to just your fists. Krav Maga is a no-rule defense. It teaches real-life scenarios, and the goal is to diffuse situations but also to disable an attacker as quickly as possible using both defense and attack. My only goal is to be as capable as possible to protect myself, my family, and my community, and to inspire others to do the same.

You’re incredibly well-traveled—what does a perfect travel day look like?

I’m well-traveled because as a child I promised myself I was going to experience the world. I’ve traveled to 31 countries and lived in four but have so much more to go. I’m an over-scheduler because I believe I can live three days in one. Last month, I traveled from Malaysia to Singapore in the morning, had a Muay Thai session with my coach, came back to my hotel and got my makeup done, had a quick photoshoot, had lunch with a girlfriend from the Philippines, trained with her at her husband’s gym, got ready and went to dinner with my old boss from Sydney, then met my boyfriend for drinks before flying back to the U.S. in the morning. 

What do you do when you’re not busy being a badass?

When I’m not training, I do a lot of wellness, recovery, and health practices. I’m obsessive and passionate about cooking. My biggest happiness is taking care of my loved ones. I love to write, and I’ve made it a necessary practice of self-reflection and growth since I was 10. I’m currently working on a business project focused on protecting people from danger.  

Q&A with Super-Fit & Passionate Outdoorswoman Kayla Nevius  

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