Morgan Craft: Youngest Chapter Chair to Date Shoots for the Olympics
By Sam Wilson, Bugle Intern
Young people are told to shoot for the stars. For Morgan Craft, that means shooting for the Olympics--and shooting at a whole lot of clay pigeons.
Hockey superstar Wayne Gretzky’s parents built him a small frozen pond to practice on in the winter. In Sullivan County, Pennsylvania, RMEF volunteer Morgan Craft’s parents and grandparents built her an Olympic skeet shooting range.
“I would never want to go back to training at a public gun club,” says Craft, who almost certainly has surpassed the “10,000 hour rule” practicing at her home range.
The near daily effort has proven effective, as Craft has risen through the ranks of competitive skeet shooting. At 16, while attending Sullivan County High School, Morgan competed in Colorado Springs at the 2008 USA Shooting National Championships. After placing 8th, Craft says she was “so pumped for more!” That same year, she made the USA Junior Olympic team. Now, at the ripe age of 18, Craft is a competing member of the USA Shooting National Team.
“The sport has completely shaped my life for the past five years,” says Craft, who has traveled as far as Serbia and London to compete.
If Craft’s dedication to her sport was unique, consider the fact that she juggled that obligation with high school and an active role with the RMEF. Craft was previously cast into the RMEF limelight when she became the youngest chapter chair in the organization’s history at age 15.
“She wrote the letters, she ran the meetings. She served as the emcee for the banquet as well, and she had no problem standing in front of 250 people and carrying on,” says her grandmother Nancy Craft about Morgan’s role with the Tiadaghton Chapter in Williamsport.
Dave Ragantesi, senior regional director for eastern Pennsylvania, describes Craft as a first-class person. “I can’t say enough good things about her. She has done a lot for the Elk Foundation.”
Craft now attends Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Missouri, on a shooting scholarship. Last year she helped her school win its 9th consecutive national collegiate championship. Her father, Dave Craft, says that the past few years have been a whirlwind as the whole family adjusted to the crazy travel schedule. “We’re from one of the smaller counties in the state,” he says. “It’s been pretty exciting to ride along with her to the different shoots around the United States.”
It was that rural atmosphere that helped instill a spirit of conservation in Craft. Her father taught her how to hunt, and they still love to go together. “He showed me how fulfilling the outdoors and conservation can be,” says Morgan. “I will have a love for hunting and nature for as long as I live.”
In May, she secured the alternate spot on the 2012 women’s international skeet U.S. Olympic team by winning the second half of the Olympic trials in Tucson, Arizona. However, the real prize for Craft would be to win a medal in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. With her rapid rise to success, there is no telling what she can accomplish.
Despite her busy life, Craft remains in touch with her old RMEF chapter in Pennsylvania. And once she settles back into college life in Missouri this fall, she plans on becoming an active member of the local chapter.