Ryan Wee, 17, and his brother Tyler, 15, from Wake Forest, North Carolina, are used to sharing. They share a home, the same birth month, and a passion for the same sport: rifle marksmanship.
In the 2022 Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP) Small Caliber Nationals, played in July at Camp Perry in Ohio, the pair won the Freedom’s Fire team event for the second year in a row. Ryan went on to win third place overall on the three-position aggregate, while Tyler took fourth place (separated by just six points). Both brothers also won multiple age group awards for their performances at the Iron Sight and Any Sight Championships.
“I think we’re successful in the Freedom’s Fire game because we get consistent scores and we know each other’s strengths and weaknesses,” Tyler said. “Before the game, we discussed what positions any of us would likely have problems with and how we can fix that.”
“We don’t put any kind of pressure on winning the team game. We really just do it for fun,” Ryan added. “I think competing with a brother also takes a lot of pressure off – we both know we’re doing our best and there’s never any hard feelings or blame if things don’t work out for one of us during the match.”
The fields at Camp Perry, where national games have been held since 1907, are notorious for their erratic conditions. Located right along the shore of Lake Erie, the fickle environment is known to test even the most experienced marksman. However, the Wee Brothers are never nervous about taking it all on.
“Camp Perry is an unpredictable range due to winds, heat and unexpected high fires that could be called at any time, which can disrupt your pace,” Tyler said. “Instead of preparing for Camp Perry, I use the practice time the day before the game at the shooting range to learn and adjust to the new conditions.”
While not at Camp Perry, Tyler and Ryan practice outside during the hottest part of the day to build endurance.
“We don’t have a way to prepare for the winds, so it’s always a learning experience and a fun challenge to try to overcome,” Ryan said of competing in the Nationals.
Finding multiple places where the kids can compete together allows the Wee family to travel not only to Camp Perry but to other areas of the country. Classifying themselves as “foodies”, a residual effect of the aim has been to try new restaurants and learn about local cultures.
“I also like meeting new people and making new friends at every game, as well as seeing old friends,” Ryan said. “It’s another dimension of the sport that I really enjoy.”
Ryan got involved with marksmanship his freshman year of high school shooting at a local shooting range. Similarly, Tyler discovered his passion for small-caliber shooting after enrolling in a gun safety program at the same club, the Sir Walter Gun Club, where they are both still members.
“I enjoy the fact that shooting is more of a mind sport,” Tyler said. “The mental aspect sets it apart from more physically demanding sports because it welcomes a wider variety of athletes to compete.”
Now pursuing their careers, the brothers are also members of the Carolina Academy of Precision Shooters and Team Winning Solutions, along with Sir Walter. They both participate in three-position 60-shot and small-bore air rifles, and try to compete once a month to keep their skills sharp.
“We spend a lot of time practicing together, so being able to talk and understand each other’s situations helps us compete,” Tyler explained.
The two practice smallbore at Sir Walter once a week and train daily for air rifle using a SCATT training system to effectively improve their grips. Gear-wise, Ryan and Tyler each use a Walther KK300 Blacktec Plus for small caliber rifles and a Feinwerkbau 700S for air rifles. Ryan uses a Hammerli AR20 PRO (also used by Tyler).
“It’s a fun challenge, seeing the progress I can make and finding ways to get better,” Ryan said of shooting.
Sometimes finding time to practice becomes a challenge during the school year, especially with Ryan pursuing a load of advanced honors courses. During practice, Ryan shoots a 3P small-gauge regular match and a 60-shot airgun match. Tyler focuses on time, processes and his general position.
“It’s a lot of fun racing my brother,” Ryan said. “Believe it or not, we have never had any rivalry. Occasionally, we make bets during practice that the loser will do the other’s chores.”
“Competing in the same sport allows us both to understand what the other is going through and help each other work through situations that one might have been in as well,” added Tyler.
“Shooting is an individual sport, and we both understand that we are trying to do our best,” he continued. “When one of us shoots better than the other, we just laugh and talk about what we learned and how to improve for the next game. Every time we practice or compete, our focus is to find ways to improve ourselves and others.”
In the future, Ryan looks forward to competing in college and beyond. He also wants to study science in search of a career in the medical field.
“I want to be able to help those in need and make a difference,” Ryan said.
Tyler hopes to shoot in college alongside his brother and would love to compete internationally. For his career, Tyler hopes to one day attend dental school to become an orthodontist.
Come what may, both brothers agree that they would like to stay involved in marksmanship, perhaps as junior rifle coaches. Ultimately, they share the sentiment of giving back to the sport that has already given them so much.
“This sport has opened up so many opportunities for me and I want other young people to be able to enjoy what I have from the sport,” Ryan said.
The Civilian Aim Program is a federally chartered 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation. It is dedicated to firearms safety and marksmanship training and the promotion of competitive marksmanship for United States citizens. For more information about the CMP and its programs, log on to www.TheCMP.org.