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Gunslinger rocks the boat

Meet Jess Liddon, a Lockerbie scholar who rows and shoots, but not necessarily at the same time.

She hails from Scotland, rows for Syracuse, and somehow the freshman manages to fire off air pistols in her free time. Her name is Jess Liddon, and we sat down with her for this interview about a her experiences with two rather different competitive sports.

The NewsHouse: Not only are you on the rowing team, you also shoot pistols, what's that all about?

"There's the danger that someone could get shot, but we're all about safety and try to avoid that"
- Jess Liddon

Jess:  I'm on the Scottish air pistol team. I compete internationally for them, mainly around Europe. I'm hoping to be competing in the Commonwealth games in Glasgow for 2014, that's my main goal. From there I hope to develop and compete in the 2016 (Olympic) Games in Rio.

NH: How'd you get started with pistol shooting?

Jess:  That's a funny story. When I was 5 my grandmother got me horse riding lessons for my birthday and I was hooked. Due to my dad's job I moved to Scotland, and that was the same year foot-and-mouth disease hit big. We couldn't move any animals around, so I joined the pony club anyway. We couldn't take the horses anywhere, so I did the club's decathlon, running, swimming, shooting, and not the horse riding, and I really enjoyed the shooting. My sister actually did really well, and my dad told me to join her. I just sort of got hooked on it.

NH: Where do you shoot? On campus?

Jess: There's a rifle range in the basement of Archbold, nobody knows about, it's really funny. There's a sign posted right in there, it says, "rifle range", and it was the first thing I noticed. It's reserved for ROTC, and I was really struggling to find anywhere else around here, and I asked the ROTC officers, so they were really nice about allowing me to go shoot. 

NH: What are some similarities and differences between rowing and air-pistol shooting?

Jess: For rowing, the obvious difference is you're on the team, and you're responsible for not just yourself, but the team unit. If you're injured, maybe your boat can't go out, so everyone's training is tied together. As for pistol-shooting, there's the danger that someone could get shot, but we're all about safety and try to avoid that, and rowing isn't exactly the safest sport in the world. There are injuries. 

NH: Do students at Syracuse have any misconceptions about Scotland?

Jess: Some joke that we have ginger hair and play bag-pipes, but it's all in good fun. There are some words here and there, I say "trousers" instead of "pants." I say "trainers" instead of "sneakers." It's not that they misunderstand me, they'll ask to clarify. A lot of the girls on the rowing team have a good laugh about it.

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