Lake Creek senior Mikole Hogan (17) made the move from competitive softball to rifle shooting five years ago and has never looked back. In 7th grade, Mikole’s mother signed her up for a 4H shooting class with a desire for her to learn gun safety, but little did they know they had a natural talent in the family.
“I wasn’t convinced softball was ever going to be the ‘it’ thing for her,” Mikole’s mother Desirae Hogan said. “She was too nice, always apologizing when she slid into someone stealing a base.”
In order to succeed to air rifle in 4H, Mikole had to complete three BB matches. She completed this on the first night of instruction and coaches immediately opened her world when they asked, “Have you ever thought of shooting on a competitive team?” Mikole spent the next five months training with 4H and then stepped out to competitive shooting, leaving her mark on the record books.
“I just remember how fun it was and being so surprised, like, ‘Wow!’ that they said I could do this competitively,” Mikole said. “I can train and be responsible for my own success, but get to enjoy being a part of a team as well.”
After joining the competitive air rifle team Phoenix Rising, Mikole began working with a private coach, Keith Pruden, to take her from the practice of sporter shooting to competing as a precision shoooter. After a short time with Coach Pruden, they formed the Hot Shots and she has competed with them for the last two years.
“I immediately recognized that Mikole is a very determined competitor and is one of the most driven students I’ve ever seen,” Coach Pruden said. “Her best skill that helps me coach her is her exceptional ability to provide feedback when she needs help, having such a deep understanding that she can guide my coaching to exactly what she needs. Most kids can’t do that when they get frustrated.”
Competitions have taken her and her family all over the country, including Ohio, Colorado Springs, Alabama and Atlanta. Mikole’s most recent and greatest success took her to the Civilian Marksmanship Program’s Nationals Tournament in Anniston, Alabama in July 2021. In the Co-Ed Junior Olympic Division of National 3PAR (three-position air rifle) match, Mikole earned the ranking of #1 in the nation with a score of 599 out a possible 600, receiving the gold medal as Junior Olympic 3PAR Champion. She broke two national records at this competition for both overall score and her standing score of 199 (out of a possible 200). The Houston Hot Shots finished second in the team competition.
Competitions consist of shooting at a target from three different positions, including prone, standing and kneeling. The standing record of 198 had been held since 1980, according to Mikole, until Mikole broke it with her score of 199. Mikole scored a perfect 200 in both prone and kneeling, giving her the record-breaking total of 599.
“Mikole’s drive and attentiveness is remarkable,” Coach Pruden continued. “Before the CMP Nationals her scores were kind of leveling off and she wasn’t satisfied, but she put in the hours of practice and we worked on improving her speed and she found success, breaking two national records.”
Coach Pruden also explained that it’s her individual determination that has taken her to the top, sharing about a time when she returned home at night after a competition that she wasn’t satisfied with. She wasn’t at home sulking or hanging out with friends. No, she was in her garage practicing, trying to improve what went wrong that day.
Mikole’s schedule requires putting in early days at school, leaving school to head to work each day and then practicing her air rifle techniques each evening at home or at practice in Rosenberg. She puts in about seven hours of practice each week and says that though shooting is an individual sport, she enjoys competitions and contributing to a team score.
Mikole will be announcing her university choice as a collegiate rifle shooter the first week of November and is currently weighing her options between Ole Miss (#3), TCU(#2) and Nebraska(#6), according to May 2021 NCAA rankings.
“We are all just so proud of her,” Mrs. Hogan said. “Her father and I and her grandparents are so happy for her success after how hard she works to train and prepare. We can’t wait for Paris!”
Mikole has her eyes set on the Paris Olympics in 2024 and says that is her ultimate goal.
“We have a little deal if she makes the Olympic team,” Coach Pruden said. “I want to be there with her and I’ll be doing cartwheels in the streets of Paris.”