New Jersey Girl, 10, Is a Rising Competitive Shooting Star Out to Prove 'Girls Can Do Whatever Boys Can Do'

Shyanne Roberts of N.J. is out to prove 'girls can do whatever boys can do.'

ByABC News
December 2, 2014, 7:40 PM

— -- Ten-year-old Shyanne Roberts loves purple: Purple sneakers, purple bike -- even her semi-automatic shotgun is purple.

“[It’s] a Beretta 1301, 12 gauge,” she said, holding up a firearm that is longer than she is tall.

While other girls her age are trying to master ballet or soccer, Shyanne is a rising star in the rapidly-growing sport of competitive shooting.

A self-proclaimed “Tomboy Diva” from New Jersey, Shyanne started shooting when she was 5 years old, and by the time she was 7, she had begun shooting in competitions. She beat out adults and racked up awards and sponsors that provide her with everything from ammunition to firearms. She even has a legion of followers through her YouTube channel and Facebook fan page, which she updates with all things Shyanne.

Shyanne’s father, Dan Roberts, has been guiding her along in her shooting career from the first day she learned how to shoot, making sure she is being safe. He said he realized his daughter had a real talent for the sport when she first started shooting.

“When they start calling their shots and they tell you where it’s going to hit before they do it -- that’s usually a pretty good sign,” he said.

Dan Roberts said Shyanne's mother, who was a shooting instructor when their daughter was born, "was fully supportive of it when Shy first started training."

Most recently, Shyanne competed in an all-female shooting competition, Brownell’s Lady 3-Gun Challenge in Covington, Georgia, the very first all-women three-gun competition in the United States.

As the name suggests, it’s a shooting competition where women shoot three guns -- a rifle, a shotgun and a handgun -- in a series of timed stages that test for speed and accuracy. Shyanne was the youngest shooter at the event in which more than 200 women shooters took part in the week-long competition.

For many of the shooters at the 3-Gun competition, it was a family affair. Tom Stewart and his 12-year-old daughter Maddie drove in from Wisconsin to compete.

“It’s a rare sport that a family can do together,” Steward said. “This year I think we’ve shot 22 matches together, seven of them out of state. ... This is one of the few where we can actually compete together and against each other.”

Like Shyanne, Lena Miculek Afentul, a top female shooter, started competing at just 8 years old.

“I don’t think you can establish an age on it because no child is the same maturity,” Afentul said. “As long as they are mature, they’re safe ... I don’t think there should be an age on it.”

Competitive shooting, which has traditionally been seen as a sport for men, is quickly changing. Interest among women and young people is surging. According to 2013 survey commissioned by the National Shooting Sports Foundation that analyzed shooting participation from 2008 to 2012, 37 percent of new target shooters were female, and 66 percent of new shooters were between the ages of 18 to 34 years old.

“Girls can do whatever boys can do,” Shyanne said.

And gun manufacturers have followed suit, marketing special firearm models with smaller frames and in custom colors, like pink and purple. In addition to her shotgun, Shyanne has a custom-built purple camouflage AR-15 rifle and 9 mm handgun.

“[The 9 mm] does have a little bit of recoil, so it does come up a little bit,” Shyanne said. “But if you keep your arms locked and lean into it, it doesn’t lock you back.”