12-time shooting champ and KFS student earns scholarship
Seventeen-year-old Mattison Russell is a 12-time world champion in competitive target shooting, and she realized her end goal Tuesday, Dec. 1, when she signed a letter of intent with Midland University after having been awarded an athletic scholarship there for shotgun sports.
The signing ceremony took place at Kenston Forest School, where Russell is in her senior year. She was joined by her family, school administrators and the entire senior class.
Russell affirmed it meant a lot to her to be in a position where she was able to receive a scholarship to compete at the collegiate level.
“I’ve shot throughout high school, 13, 14, etcetera, but my end goal (was) I wanted to shoot in college,” she said. “I didn’t want to just stop. I wanted to just keep going.”
With quail, duck and turkey as her game, Russell has been a hunter since she was 10.
“Since I could be responsible with a gun, pretty much,” she said.
Her start in competitive shooting came shortly before she turned 13.
“My dad’s college roommate from Virginia Tech, (Lindsey Warren,) he was one of the coaches for our 4-H program, so they kind of got connected, and I was like, ‘Well, I’ll go out and try it,’ because he heard that I duck hunted,” she said.
That proved to be a significant day for Russell.
“As soon as I shot my first target, I fell in love with it, and I knew I just needed to keep going,” she said. “I started with the Freeland 4-H program in Lunenburg.”
The program practiced at Arrowhead Gun Club, which was also in Lunenburg County.
Russell went on to compete in different competitions in Virginia and North Carolina, experiences which prepared her for the epic stage of world championship competition in San Antonio, Texas.
“Every year for the past two or three years, we’ve just gone out there,” she said.
At an average competition, she competes in five different categories, including four gauges of shotgun. Each category involves her shooting 100 targets from 21 yards away, meaning she shoots 500 targets by the end of the competition.
In Texas, she competed for world titles in a field of more than 1,000 people, including adults.
With each trip to San Antonio, she has won an average of four categories, leading to her current tally of 12 world titles.
Russell spoke to the enduring appeal of shotgun sports for her.
“I’ve always liked guns and the instant gratification of it,” she said. “It’s very much so an adrenaline rush, and I’m very competitive, and I live off adrenaline rush kind of thing(s).”
Her success in competition has helped raise her profile and put her in a position to be courted by a collegiate shotgun sports program.
“The coach at Midland actually watched me,” she said. “He reached out to me, and I’ve been on his radar for about three years now. There have been some shoots where I’ve been at, and he has been there too, and he’s watched me, so it’s been years in the making, and I finally chose to go there.”
Her father, Charles Russell, spoke on behalf of the family when he stated that they are obviously very proud of Mattison.
“It’s been a family effort,” he said. “From the very beginning, Mattison’s dream was to shoot for a college if she could, and so we all worked hard, and we spent a lot of road time together and a lot of time reloading ammunition together. And so yeah, we toured the colleges together, and we met the coach, and it was a group session, but it’s very fulfilling.”