BARNEGAT, NEW JERSEY
State Director Info
Junior Pistol Athlete Highlight: Tanya Chowdary
By Ashley Dugan, CMP Staff Writer
“It’s hard to express what exactly draws me to pistol, but I believe it has to do with the dedication and intense focus needed to shoot an X on a bullseye,” junior markswoman Tanya Chowdary explained. “Shooting a perfect shot requires adherence to a flawless routine and the self-discipline to repeat the same action every time you pick up your gun.”
And Tanya has the repetition down.
Though only 17, she has already collected several successes through bullseye pistol competition. At the 2022 National Matches, a renowned event in the marksmanship world held each year at Camp Perry in Ohio, Tanya earned the High Junior Any Sight title with a score of 2542-71X – leading the next highest junior by over 50 points. She was also the fourth highest woman.
Affiliated with the Association of New Jersey Rifle & Pistol Clubs (ANJRPC) and representing the New Jersey State Junior Team through the junior program at Somerset County Fish and Game Protective Association (SCFGPA), Tanya returned to the National Matches in 2023 to earn the High Junior title again and moved up to the third highest woman overall.
“Ever since I was little, I’ve had an ambitious nature, especially when it comes to sports,” she said.
A native of Belle Mead, N.J., Tanya first learned about the National Matches when she joined the junior program at SCFGPA club in 2020 and saw pictures of junior teams from prior years. It got her excited, and she decided she wanted to give it a try for herself.
It wasn’t until 2021, when she was 14, that she was able to attend her first National Matches and instantly fell in love with the atmosphere at Camp Perry.
“It was a different experience for me, shooting alongside hundreds of shooters from all around the country when I was used to shooting with 20 to 30 at New Jersey matches,” she said. “I performed decently, but it gave me determination to come back stronger and really compete the next year. I also got a lot of advice from fellow shooters, which I took back with me and integrated into my practices.”
Though she was thrilled to return to the National Matches in 2023, recreating her successes from the year before made her uneasy. The pressure of outdoing herself caused Tanya to fumble on the second day of competition. Then, when one of her matches was unexpectedly cancelled, she realized she was in the midst of a new lesson: sometimes, not everything goes as planned.
With a new outlook, she picked herself up during her remaining matches, which tested her ability to keep her concentration through windy and heavily raining conditions. She stayed focused and gave her best efforts – reaching the objectives she had set for herself.
“My only goals coming into this year’s match were to concentrate solely on my process for each shot and to not leave the range with any regrets – both of which I achieved, so I’m happy with how I did,” she added.
Tanya has come a long way for someone who, at first, wasn’t exactly enthusiastic about marksmanship when she began in rifle almost a decade ago.
“I lacked any interest in the sport,” Tanya admitted. “On one hand, I was terrible at shooting and could not hold the rifle steady, and on the other hand, it bored me. A lead bullet piercing an X on a sheet of paper was just not a big deal to me at that age.”
At age 9, she started in a junior rifle program at her local gun club, Citizens Rifle & Revolver Club (CRRC). After two years, her dad asked her if she wanted to try out pistol. She joined the junior program at CRRC in 2017 where she shot her first pistol – a pink Browning Buck Mark.
“It was definitely more interesting than rifle,” she said. “I struggled with one-handed shooting for the first couple years, but as I got better, I began to like it a lot. I was looking forward to shooting every Sunday afternoon and seeing how I was slowly getting better at the sport.”
Over the years, she has faced various challenges that have led her to learn more about herself as a markswoman and as a person.
“That includes coping with pressure before and during a match, dealing with countless disappointing targets and learning the discipline to stay focused while shooting,” she said. “The challenges made me into a process-oriented person.”
“I enjoy the person I become when I shoot, especially when I concentrate and push myself to do better at each target striving for perfection,” she went on. “There is a great deal of perseverance required for this sport, but it’s all worth it once you see the results.”
Tanya practices every Monday evening with the junior pistol team at SCFGPA and practices at the CRRC range one to two times a week before matches. She maintains a shooting journal full of details about her process for each gun and type of fire.
“Looking through my journal, I can remind myself of what thoughts or songs keep me happy, and what my tendencies are when shooting, that way I can fix my form quicker,” she said.
For .22 caliber, Tanya uses a Pardini SP Bullseye model, which she likes because of the bolt slide and front weighting system that stabilizes the pistol in sustained fire. As for the .45 caliber, she uses the Accuracy X Series pistol – her favorite.
Tanya credits her dad for teaching her, and her sister, to work hard to become the best at anything they do, and Tanya believes that’s what allows her to stay so competitive in the large field of talented competitors.
“For me, the key to keep winning is to enjoy what you are doing and at the same time never let your guard down, which is very difficult to do when you are shooting well and start to get over-confident or when you are shooting bad and feel uncertain,” she said. “I try to maintain my emotions and thoughts to remain the same, because it prevents shooting emotionally – a skill that I’ve learned to use in intense matches.”
Another challenge she faces: the overwhelming majority of bullseye pistol competitors are male.
“Being a junior female participant is an oddity, and I definitely get a few puzzling looks at first if they do not know me prior,” she said. “Most shooters in the sport are very passionate and experienced, but when they see a young woman shooting next to them, they mistake me for a kid who might not be serious and are worried about how I would score them and if I know the rules.”
“Once the match begins, and they see me shoot, they start talking to me and I can sense the surprise and disbelief of how they misjudged me,” she went on. “By the end of the match, they become friendly and respect me as an equal.”
The camaraderie on the range has allowed Tanya to meet many wonderful people from the places she has competed. She now wants to take what she has learned to encourage others to join in on the positive experiences found within pistol competition.
“I would like to be able to inspire more young girls to start shooting and find confidence within themselves as they learn the sport,” she said. “It is without a doubt a difficult sport to achieve success, and it needs dedication and discipline to accomplish.”
For her own goals, Tanya, simply, wants to keep getting better and to achieve Master status before the 2024 National Matches in July. She also wants to keep going to Camp Perry even after she graduates high school. After all, it’s a place that helped her become the confident young woman she is today – along with those who have championed her career along the way.
“I could not have done any of this without the tremendous support I received from Mary and Ray Badiak, who run the junior pistol program at SCFGPA,” she said. “I owe them a big thank you for all the time and energy they dedicate to the juniors.”
For the future, Tanya plans on majoring in business finance or law in college and, of course, to keep up with the sport she loves whenever she can.
“I hope to keep shooting as an active hobby throughout my life,” she said.
Interested in Bullseye Pistol Shooting? Visit the CMP website at https://thecmp.org/competitions/cmp-pistol-program/ for more details and information.
David Lange Earns Distinguished Air Pistol and Revolver Badge #1s in Same Year
David Lange, 54, of Glen Rock, N.J., is number one – in fact, he’s number one three times over.
A talented marksman, Lange holds five Distinguished Badges: Pistol (2001), .22 EIC Pistol (2015) and Rifle (2018), along with his new Air Pistol and Service Revolver Badges he claimed in 2022. Three of those (Air Pistol, Service Revolver and .22 EIC) were Badge #1s.
Distinguished Badges are the highest individual award authorized by the U. S. Government for excellence in marksmanship competition. A program that has been around since the late 1800s, the realm of badge possibilities has grown from simply rifle and pistol to a range of other disciplines – each individual badge branded with a number specific to when its holder claimed it and held in high regard, especially the coveted Badge #1.
“The thing that I like about marksmanship is that it is very fair. It takes hard work and dedication,” Lange said. “The reward, at any level, is in achieving your own goals.”
During his career, Lange’s been a member of several national championship teams and holds numerous individual successes, such as becoming the 2015 Indoor National Champion, Revolver National Champion, Standard Pistol National Champion and the National Matches National Trophy Individual Champion and Civilian Champion. He also earned spots on the National Matches President’s 100 in both pistol and rifle in 2021. Additionally, he has set several individual national records and was a firing member of a record-setting team.
His wife is Kathy Chatterton – a sponsored athlete, captain of the Les Baer Custom Pistol Team and Distinguished Pistol Shot with a High Master classification who also happens to hold several national and international titles and records.
“It’s an unfair advantage,” Lange joked of the pairing. “It was Kathy’s knowledge, wisdom, experience and 100 percent support that helped me to achieve my goals. Kathy also introduced me to a network national and international champions whose friendship and support has both encouraged and inspired me.”
Lange grew up hunting with his family. When he realized he had a knack for shooting, he joined a local club bullseye pistol league and began competing with a Ruger MK II. He went on to purchase a Colt Gold Cup and fired his first match in April 1998.
“In my first year of shooting, I shot a lot,” he said. “I shot three, sometimes four, leagues during the week and at least one match on the weekends.”
During that first year, he earned an Expert classification and went to Camp Perry for the experience with a goal of returning to Camp Perry as a Master in 1999.
“Both years it was suggested that I hold back and stay in the lower class until after Camp Perry,” he explained. “I never did hold back, and I was proud to shoot with the Masters in 1999. Even though I was shooting scores at the bottom of the higher classification, I believe it made me a better shooter.”
“Shooting against better shooters caused me to work harder and improve faster,” he added.
When Lange began to learn more about competitive shooting, he realized dry firing aided in improving his scores just as much as live firing. He combined each with mental training learned from Lanny Bassham’s “Mental Management System,” and his scores rose to the High Master Class and above 2650 (his first time in May 2002 after having reached 2600 less than a year before).
“Shooting as many Regionals and State Championships as possible helped me to become more comfortable at bigger matches,” he said. “At first, I just shot in the six or seven nearby states. Eventually, I was shooting Regionals from Florida to Maine and as far west as Phoenix. I shot at matches where I didn’t know anyone, and no one knew me. Shooting in a strange place far from home is a great way to gain match experience.”
From 2003 to 2006, he was a member of Team UltraDot before joining Springfield Armory in 2007. He also began shooting revolver in June 2006 and became the seventh person to receive the NRA Distinguished Revolver award.
In 2009, he competed on the Mountain Competition Pistol Team with Aimpoint, Atlanta Arms and Ammo and KKM Barrels as supporting sponsors. The following year, he joined his current team, Zero Bullet Company’s bullseye pistol team, sponsored by the Zero Bullet Company and Lapua.
“I have had the good fortune of shooting on teams with some of the best and most famous shooters in the country,” he said. “I am proud to be a member of the Zero Bullet Company team and owe much of my success to the bullets and ammunition from the sponsored companies.”
Lange’s also the vice president of the Riverdale Police Pistol Club and an officer and range trustee in the Association of NJ Rifle and Pistol Clubs (ANJRPC), the NJ NRA state rifle and pistol association.
“Some of these sponsors are not giant companies and spend much of their marketing budget supporting shooters through teams, picnics, prizes and donations,” he explained. “I hope that all competitors will support the shooting industry companies that give something back to our sport.”
He went on, “Please also remember that sponsored shooters are not professional shooters, and their support is limited. The real reward is in the glory and achievement that comes from working hard and being part of a team. I encourage all shooters to participate in team matches and seek out new sponsors. I believe the mutual support and involvement will help to strengthen this sport. The possibility of being on highly visible team is incentive for new shooters to improve and gives them an additional goal.”
Since his beginnings, he’s maintained the same lofty competition schedule. His location in New Jersey has allowed him to compete indoors in the winter and outdoors in the summer within an hour of his house – sometimes two matches within the same weekend, with others still available if he wanted to shoot more.
“My most intense training comes in the spring when I am on the range six days per week, practicing for Match Pistol, up until the Camp Perry matches in July,” he said. “My main focus on the range is rapid fire, while at home I dryfire and use mental training techniques like visualization and rehearsal.”
Even though pistol competition is his primary focus, Lange still participates in service rifle matches in the summer and trains offhand at an indoor range with a .22 upper in the winter. Admittedly, earning the Distinguished Rifleman Badge was his hardest to achieve. Lange also believes that the most elite shooters are the one who have earned the original three Distinguished Badges, Service Rifle, Service Pistol and International.
“I enjoy shooting service rifle with my wife and friends and helping them to achieve their goals of becoming Service Rifle Distinguished,” he said.
His advice to other athletes looking to obtain their own marksmanship objectives?
- Concentrate your practice on just that event.
- Seek out help from any of the various clinics that can be found around the country including CMP Marksmanship 101 classes or Small Arms Firing School (SAFS) at Camp Perry.
- If you don’t already have leg points, participate in SAFS and Marksmanship 101 EIC matches for a chance to earn your first 4 points.
- You are allowed to fire in five EIC matches plus the National Championship each year. Make sure you shoot all of those matches each year (you have to be in it to win it).
- Bring a friend with you. If everyone brought a friend, there would be twice as many legs at each match.
Next on Lange’s list is to reach a score of 2670. It’s an ambition he’s held for a long time, having gotten as close as 2666 three different times. No matter where his career leads him, Lange will forever be rooted in history – paving the way for fellow marksmen and women, one badge at a time.
“I have done these things far from alone,” he said. “Almost all of my friends are shooters, and this great sport is filled with great people.”
About the Distinguished Badge Program:
To earn a Distinguished Badge, a competitor must earn 30 Excellence-In-Competition (EIC) points or more in a qualifying competition. Individuals earn the 4, 6, 8 or 10 “leg” points based on score and a percentage of match participation, with at least one “hard” leg, worth 8 or 10 points. Learn more about the Distinguished Badge Program and how to earn one (or several!) on the CMP website at https://thecmp.org/competitions/distinguishedbadges/.
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