Seventy-one-year-old American-Chinese elite female athlete Vera Koo is a recently retired world champion sporting shooter whose memoir tells her life story and how she found God along the way.
What was your upbringing like?
As a child, I never had any interest in toy guns. I grew up playing with dolls. That is to be expected, because I was raised in a very traditional Chinese family that valued women as nurturers and caretakers. My mother groomed me to be a good wife, mother and daughter-in-law.
How did you discover you had a talent for competition pistol shooting?
I got into competitive sport shooting by accident. I went to take a firearm safety class because I was afraid of guns. I figured that if I had proper instruction on safe handling of a firearm, I could dispel some of the fear of firearms that often stems from ignorance. The driving force that propelled me forward into competitions came from a desire to improve my skill on accuracy in my target shooting, and signing up for competitions incentivised me to practice. Above all else was the opportunity to become better at what I was learning.
Most elite athletes train from a very young age for their sport, so how does your story differ?
When I was in high school, if I had told my friends that I was planning to become a competitive pistol shooter when I grew up, they would have laughed their heads off. I had never even seen a real gun before. After I had discovered through the firearm safety class at De Anza College that I was exceptionally accurate in my target shooting, I signed up for a competition so that I had a goal to work towards. Winning all the local club competitions, which was mainly competing against male shooters, eventually led me to national competitions.
How do you mentor younger women in the sport?
I encourage the women shooters to practise often and participate in as many matches as they can to build mileage and experience. The question has to be settled as to their motive to enter the competitive sport, because more often than not the competitive shooter is required to be singularly focused and 100% committed to achieve high-level results, like in any other competitive sports.
How did you discover your personal relationship with God?
A few years before I was baptised in 2003, I was aware that God was there helping me with my crisis in life whenever I had difficulty in passing the hours in a day. My personal journey with God is detailed in my book The Most Unlikely Champion.
What role does your faith play in your life on a day-to-day basis?
I know that God is always with me. I want to please him by being kind to people and always trying to do the right thing.
What inspired you to write your book?
I view life as having a big pot which we all take from and contribute to throughout our lives. Ideally, you contribute as much as or more than you take. But I’ve often wondered whether I was contributing enough. Years ago, I thought: before I leave this world, I need to give something back to the pot. Writing this book was a way of doing this. I want my story to help others know they are not alone if they are struggling.