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GRANADA, Spain — Perhaps the only downside to winning a bronze medal at the 51st International Shooting Sport Federation World Shooting Championship is all the school work Katie Bridges has to make up at Texas Christian University since returning home

Then again, maybe not.

“I definitely would make up the work,” said sharpshooter Bridges, a 2013 Marble Falls High School graduate. “It was really awesome.”

Bridges, who is also a member of the TCU women’s rifle team, was one and nine-tenths of a point from winning gold in junior women’s prone rifle and tying the world record, TCU coach Karen Monez said.

Katie Bridges loads her rifle before competing for Team USA at the Junior World Championships in Spain, where she earned the bronze medal. Courtesy photo
Katie Bridges loads her rifle before competing for Team USA at the Junior World Championships in Spain, where she earned the bronze medal. Courtesy photo

“I focused more than I’ve ever focused in a match,” Bridges said. “I took it one shot at a time. Before I knew it, I was done. It seemed to go by fast. I didn’t worry about score or anything. I was completely focused.”

And Bridges did it in her very first overseas international competition. Bridges has competed in postal competitions, which means she was competing in the United States with a witness verifying results that were sent to other international teams shooting in their homelands.

Both Bridges and Monez maintain competing on foreign land is much different on so many levels.

First of all, there’s the flight and getting through customs with personal firearms. Then, there’s adjusting to a time change, a different language and a different culture. Lastly, there’s competing shoulder to shoulder with other shooters representing 94 countries.

At postal competitions, “you’re in your comfort zone, you’re in familiar territory, you’re shooting with your teammates,” Monez said. “Overseas, you’re in the middle of a new environment. You can’t compare.” Bridges agreed.

“I learned to handle a whole new level of pressure,” she said. “Here, it’s the nation’s best. But at this one, I knew I was competing against the world’s best. I learned how to cope with the pressure.”

Each shooter was given two practice days. Once the competition began, they had 15 minutes to prepare and adjust to the weather and then 50 minutes to fire 60 shots.

“She gets to this level, and it’s really different,” Monez said. “When it comes to international competitions, it’s hard to describe it. You have this melting pot of people wanting to win the gold medal. It’s something you really can’t train for. You have to experience it first hand to get to the point you’re comfortable with it. And Katie handled it very well.”

Bridges said she was nervous at first. But then she realized being a member of Team USA meant being one of the country’s best. And that gave her peace of mind and the confidence to finish strong.

“I had a really good feeling in this match,” Bridges said. “I knew I could do well, but I didn’t know how well it could go.”

Bridges began the event shooting very well, Monez said. She gave the youngster two pieces of advice: Have fun and be confident in your ability and knowledge.

So the coach was not surprised Bridges medaled.

The Marble Falls graduate is starting her second year at TCU. Monez said coaches have worked with Bridges to fine-tune some technical things that have paid off. At collegiate competitions, coaches bring 10 shooters with them and pick five to compete for a team score. The other five compete as individuals. Bridges had been competing as an individual, but then was chosen toward the end of the season to compete for the team. That propelled her to her making Team USA and winning a medal.

Monez said Bridges already has set two new personal bests during practice meets.

“I’m looking for more consistency,” the coach said. “There are high performers on the team; it’s very competitive. To bring someone in as a freshman, I hope they’ll feed off that. Everyone has high goals. Katie has fed off that.”