Growing up, Mary Anne Schweitzer Lewandowski's two older brothers loved to shoot rifles, so it only made sense that she would also gravitate toward firearms. She started shooting when she was 9 and competing in national competitions at 12.
"I remember watching the Olympics in 1968 on our black-and-white television — seeing Olga Korbut compete and win, and thinking that I wanted to be an Olympian, too." Lewandowski recalls.
It was a little unusual for a girl to shoot, she says, but she was drawn to it because shooting is one of those sports in which men and women compete on a level playing field. In fact, she says, there wasn't a separate women's event in shooting until the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles.
She trained at home by practicing "dry firing" (repeating position and follow-through without actually firing a shot), and she went to the range one night a week. There was a local competition every Friday and regional or national events on the weekends.
"At the time, I felt like I was making sacrifices," Lewandowski says. "It was difficult to give those things up when you would see your friends doing things that you really wanted to do."
She adds: "In retrospect, it was my parents who were making the real sacrifices to give my brothers and me the opportunity to compete at a very high level."
She medaled in a 1984 international rifle competition in Cuba and at a world championship match in Mexico. She didn't win any medals at the 1984 Olympics. But she did meet diver Greg Louganis, gymnast Mary Lou Retton, singer Joan Jett and President Reagan.
In 1986, she married her college sweetheart, also a shooter. They continued to shoot competitively for a few years, but their interests drifted toward cars. "We enjoy Corvettes especially," Lewandowski says, "but are interested in all facets of automotive excellence from racing to restoration.
Today, Lewandowski, 47, works for an electronics company in Harrisburg, Pa. "Even though shooting is an individual sport," Lewandowski says, "all of my accomplishments were a result of many, many people who sacrificed, gave me support and opportunities — even when I didn't necessarily deserve them."