MOUNT PLEASANT, Texas — Lauren Burge found a life-long passion at an early age.
Burge, a senior at Chapel Hill High School near Mount Pleasant, won the 2017 Ladies World Skeet Shooting Championship in San Antonio at 15 years old — making her the youngest female to win the title — and the following year she shot a perfect 400x400 in the 2018 U.S. Open at the Greater Houston Gun Club.
Burge started shooting when she was nine at a local benefit shoot, and the host couple saw potential in her immediately.
"The wife started coaching me, and we practiced four to five times a week for a year before I went to my first competition," Burge said. "She wanted me to gain confidence before I started competing."
She shot for the 4H Club for six years, discovered her knack and passion for skeet shooting and has focused on skeet ever since. In 4H, you can shoot in sporting clays, trap shooting, skeet, and numerous other disciplines.
"I really fell in love with the skeet discipline," Lauren said. "And after I went to my first competition, I was hooked."
Burge is also a member of the National Honor Society, National Skeet Shooting Association, Texas Skeet Shooting Association, and National Sporting Clay Association.
Lauren's list of accomplishments includes the 2019 Krieghoff All-American Open honorable mention, Krieghoff All-American Ladies first team captain, Texas All-State Open first team, a member of the 2019 Krieghoff Pro Staff, ranked No. 1 in the ladies division by the NSSA in 2018, runner-up at the NSSA Ladies HOA World Skeet Championships, U.S. Open Championship runner-up and U.S. Ladies HOA Champion, among many, many more.
Her 400 straight at the 2018 U.S. Open was her first 400, which consists of a 100 with each the 12, 20, 28 and 410 gauges. She is also the youngest female to shoot a 400x400.
"A 400 is like winning the Super Bowl in football," Lauren said. "That's every shooter's life-long dream. Any competitive shooter, that is going to be on their goal list, whether short term or long term."
The most difficult aspect with a 400 straight is the .410 gauge because a shooter is only allowed, by NSSA regulations, to shoot half-ounce loads in the 410.
"You have to be very disciplined in your mental game and not let anyone else and its difficulty affect you in that moment," Lauren said. "You can't let distractions or even doubt get in your head."
Lauren's parent, Chuck and Teri Burge, built a home range for her to be able to practice daily about five years ago.
"One of Lauren's favorite quotes that she, and I and her mother have been using is, 'a full head is an empty gun,'" Chuck said. "The reason for that is the more you think about it, the more you dwell on it, the more you're going to over think it and miss more targets."
Lauren chuckled, "I've lived by that saying since I was 9 years old."
Her parents have also had her coached by Steve and Janet Brown, who run a shooting range in Gladewater, Texas. Steve Brown is a Level 3 instructor in sporting clays and skeet shooting.
Lauren also has a mental coach in Bob Palmer, a well-known motivational speaker, author and performance coach.
"He's made a world of difference and has taught me so much about the mental aspect of sports," Lauren said.
Her home shooting range is a concrete, regulation skeet field, built to spec.
"It's a state-of-the-art skeet field, the same as you would find at the Dallas Gun Club or Houston Gun Club," Chuck said. "We built that the year before Lauren won the Ladies World Title (2017)."
Lauren has benefited greatly from having the home skeet field, as well as parents who have supported her goals.
"It's definitely a blessing in itself to be able to practice whenever I like," Lauren said. "And to have parents who are as dedicated as I am to put that, literally, in the back yard. It's made a world of difference.
"During this whole epidemic (with COVID-19) going on right now, I've been out there a lot."
After graduation, Lauren, who is currently enrolled and working towards a medical assistant degree at Northeast Texas Community College, plans to transfer to Texas A&M University to complete her doctorate.
Lauren's goal is to, one day, become a U.S. Open World Champion, not just the ladies' champion.
"I want to become the best of the best, no matter how long that takes," she said. "I'll be shooting for the rest of my life; it's made me who I am."