Silence falls over the field of competitors on a recent Sunday morning in Plainfield. A voice asks, "Shooter ready?" The silence is broken by a series of gunshots.
East Dundee and Lombard shooting instructor TD Roe, 49, pulls her pistol and hits the targets. The nationally-ranked United States Practical Shooting Association shooter turns in a top score.
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Roe, a self proclaimed tomboy and perfectionist, started shooting in 2006 after injuries sidelined her from competitive swimming, volleyball and cycling,
"I approached shooting as a sport," said Roe, the youngest of nine siblings. "And I wanted to spend more time with my brothers."
Traveling most weekends to shooting competitions across country, Roe has quickly risen to the top of her game.
"There can be a lot of pressure," Roe says as she focuses on how she will approach the next stage in the match. "I am separating every act. I have to think about one shot at a time and how I will stop the gun in that moment."
Seamlessly transitioning from competitor to teacher, Roe spends most of her nights in the classroom helping others.
Combining the past seven years of her top level shooting experiences, Roe, of Lemont, brings that excitement to her students at EXCEL Training Group, which offers firearms instruction in the Chicago area.
"I wish that I had this kind of training when I was starting out," Roe says after finishing her instruction in the classroom portion of a women's class on handguns. "You have to always be willing to improve."
Moving into the range portion of the class the group uses .22-caliber Ruger handguns to train with, but Roe says the fundamentals are the same with any handgun.
"You put your finger on the trigger and just touch it and let the pressure build," Roe says as she helps adjust the grip and stance of a student taking her first shot.
"We really like the aspect of having a women's only class," said Roe, acknowledging that sometimes a class with all men can be intimidating.
"What (these women) don't realize is that everyone in these classes are usually new shooters."
After a long night of new experiences and learning, Roe says class members often will return from the range portion exhilarated and excited from their new experience.
"People often have it in their mind that shooting is bad, but this is putting you in control in a safe environment."