Couple’s Therapy

By Anne Miller

Yearly, my husband and I get a date weekend. This spring, it involved hanging out the side of a helicopter with my 6.5 SLR and praying that the belt holding me would keep up the good job.  Considering that we had made many friends at that Kettle Falls Steel Challenge over the past several years, I couldn’t suffer the indignity of them seeing my match rifle drop several tree lengths into the brush below. So I proudly got my shots off and floated back to my grinning husband.

For their annual date weekend, Anne Miller and husband Eric did some shooting, out of a helicopter. (ANNE MILLER)

My interest began when we started dating 7 years ago. In fact, he interrupted our first breakfast to see if I liked shooting guns. Right in the middle of eggs and bacon. And I really like bacon, but I liked him even more. I had the token youth experience shooting cans with a .22, but my level of misses was simply exceptional. And frankly, left little incentive to continue when combined with the fact that I had other interests. After finding an eye-dominance issue and a multitude of dates, I was able to handle a rifle and got engaged in the process. Thereafter, the only logical thing to do was to go beat the pants off my little brother in a shooting wager.

Steve and Nicole Downs (ANNE MILLER)

Eric and I were the first couple to shoot together at the Challenge. At the time my biggest worry was that estrogen would get me unwanted attention. Happily, the only perk was the gunshop bathroom rather than the Porta Potty at the Welcome Barbeque. That first match changed everything for me. This year at Kettle, 3 couples competed (including the couple that started our gunsmithing business) along with one father-daughter team. We encourage female participants at our home matches, with a steady stream of couples serving as teammates.

Shooting with your significant other establishes better communication skills on the homefront. In the past, I might have said to Eric, “You’re kinda left but I’m not really sure, so try again and see if you hit the thing.”  Now I say, “Elevation correct. Wind right .5 mil.” For a woman of many words, this kind of concise verbiage was a struggle. However, it gets the message across clearly in a format we both understand. We’ve found that strategy to work just as well in raising our kids, deciding who does the dishes and making large business decisions. Because often a problem boils down to a simple sentence or two (okay, for me usually two) that is solvable.

Above all, my number one reason for shooting is still getting to spend quality time with my other half. The world of team matches has been excellent couple therapy. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve left him in the dust while eagerly going out for a good buck. But, just like the helo stage in WA, he has big grin each time I return—usually with technical questions and a deer I need help dragging.

For more be sure to check out our October issue of Western Shooting Journal, available on newsstands in 28 states and online at


  1. Loved this article!

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.