Get to Know: SPC Stith

It’s time for our feature on Spc. Emily Stith, a Jacksonville, Florida native with the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit International Rifle Team and Headquarters and Headquarters staff section.

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So, I joined the Army because it’s such an extensive career choice for my family. My dad was 23 years Navy, my uncle, he’s a Major, and you know, one of my aunts is also a Major, and so it was just a really good choice for me.

When I first decided that I wanted to join, I was like, “Can I go through Basic Training?” That was one of the first hurdles because I’m 5 foot nothing, and I’m only about 25. And so, that was the first hurdle, but I think one of the challenging things when I’m actually here, um, is just trying to attain all my goals that I want because I strive really high and I put myself at a really high standard, but I need to not be my worst critic.

So, my dad was on a match-grade team, and he had one of his friends—his name is Bruce Gurkin, and he had just introduced us to the sport, and I just got started in Kitsap, Washington, and I went out there every weekend and had a cold, every weekend, but I loved it so, that’s where I got started.

So, when I’m shooting, it’s kind of frustrating. Um, I either, you know, I’m really religious so like sometimes I’ll pray, sometimes I have these like different things that are kind of written on my rifle, and I’ll just take the time to just read everything that I have on there. I also just remind myself that getting angry, to the point where my heartrate is rising, isn’t going to do anything good for me. And so, just kind of keep that in the back of my mind, that a calm, you know, level, is going to get the best results in a competition or training.

One of the big things for me is like, taking the deep breaths because like, I did a lot of heart rate training and stuff like that, and so I know that like, my resting heart rate is 55 beats per minute, and so I just think of the number 55, and just kind of take deep breaths, and like go through it, so I can calm myself back down.

For women that are thinking about getting in the sport, I think you should definitely keep in mind that my sport in particular, 50-meter, three-position rifle and air rifle is actually a very female-predominant sport. And so, you’re not going to be one of the only females on the line. Um, there’s a lot of people who are trying things, you know, for the first time, and I think shooting should be one of them.

I think one of the biggest role models for me are my parents because they have supported me unconditionally. You know, going through school was hard but they always said that like, pursue your dreams, even if it’s not college. Just do what you love because at the end of the day, it’s not, you know, everybody else that you’re trying to please, but yourself. And so, I feel like they were always really supportive.


One of the most rewarding things about being a Soldier is knowing that when the flag raises and your national anthem is playing, like you are a part of that. Rather than, you know, being a civilian – yes you are a part of it—but being an Army Soldier is like, you are in the sisterhood and brotherhood, and it’s amazing. You know, and, having my parents—like I’ve never seen my dad cry—but he teared up when I was at the Military Entrance Processing Station, and I was, you know, when I had my oath, and it was, it was amazing. Just to know that I’m representing my country and everything like that, but I’m also, you know, continuing on a career choice that has brought a lot of happiness to my family. It’s just, it’s something special.

For women who are considering joining the military, I think it’s an amazing career path. You’re joining something that’s bigger than you. You know, you’re supporting your country and I internationally have supported my country and represented, but it’s just something incredibly different about wearing the green uniform for women. You know, representing them in that capacity, so it’s awesome.