(WMC-TV) - Maybe Alex Coyle's shooting success was meant to be.
"When I first showed up for marksmanship, it was kind of an accident," said Coyle. "I showed up on the wrong day for drill practice, like drill team tryouts, and so Sgt. Robinson had me take the safety test since I was already there to see if I like it or not, and the first shot I shot was a bullseye."
She's been hitting bullseyes ever since.
Last month, the South Panola High School senior placed third at the Air Force National Championships, finishing as the top female shooter in the country.
"Alex is unique, there's no doubt about that," said South Panola marksmanship coach Col. Bob Mims. "She started two and a half years ago, and we saw the promise in her almost immediately."
"I've always had the attitude that if I'm going to do something, I want to be the best at it," said Coyle. "If my name's on something, it's going to be top of the line."
Coyle said she comes from a family of good shots, with relatives serving in the military. A family member who is no longer with her inspires her most.
"When I was three, my dad died," said Coyle. "I was really close to him, still have some memories."
Coyle said those memories still live on every time she competes.
"Kind of like a guardian angel thing, I suppose," she said. "I like to think about him. Hey, this is for you. I like to think that he's watching down on me. I like to be the best at things just to kind of make him proud."
Late last year, Coyle accepted a scholarship to join the Ole Miss rifle team, becoming the first female Air Force cadet in the country to sign with a Division I college for a shooting sport.
"Getting a marksmanship scholarship is making me able to go to college, so it definitely means a lot," said Coyle.
It means all the time and dedication to Junior ROTC, the three days of practice a week, and dropping band to focus on shooting finally paid off.
"It takes a lot, but since I got this scholarship and everything, it's given a lot back," said Coyle.
Coyle said she would eventually like to make the Olympic team. She said her dream is to work as a special agent for the FBI.
"If it gets me to where I ultimately want to be, then that's all I really need," she said. "All the rest of the stuff is just gravy on top."
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