Derryk Hovey of Norwood traveled to Idaho in October to participate in an invitation-only national shooting competition that’s only open to the best shooters in the U.S. Hovey took 24th out of 60 competitors — a placing he said he’s content with.

Hovey has been shooting his whole life, and he’s also an avid hunter. 

He’s very interested, though, in the art of precision rifle shooting, and he competes at shooting while running and navigating various obstacles. While Hovey doesn’t have military experience, many of his competitors do. He describes his competitions as “sniper-oriented.”

In the past, Hovey has participated in local shooting matches and finished well. Recently, he went onto the national circuit and qualified for his latest contest Oct. 19-21, the National Rifle League Championship. 

In the Idaho finale, Hovey competed in 10 rounds of timed competitions for two days; each round was two minutes long and competitors had to fire 10 precise shots. 

“There are other shooting competitions on a bench or laying prone and shooting targets,” he said. “But I like the mental match, you have no idea what you have to do. It’s positional shooting, getting into position and all different positions — shooting over rooftops. I love how diverse it is.”

At home, Hovey practices frequently. He said he has targets behind his parents’ home, with ladders, gates and other props he uses for training. He said he typically shoots two to four times a week. 

Mental pressure is something Hovey said he doesn’t let bother him. In fact, he’s read several books on ways to deal with pressure. He said he works to train his mind to not think negatively when he’s competing. 

In the Idaho competition, he qualified to earn expensive prizes, some valued at thousands of dollars. Many event sponsors, like gunstock and scope companies, were on site to support the national competitors. The highest placings there earned cash prizes, too. 

In Idaho, Hovey used a custom rifle that he built himself. He said for legal reasons he can’t build custom guns for others, but in the future he may go through the required process in order to do so. 

Hovey admits he could call himself a professional shooter, because of the level at which he’s now able to compete. He said he’s still reluctant to label himself as such right now. 

He thanked his father, Kerry Alexander, for sharing the sport with him during childhood and continuing to help him with his shooting throughout his life. 

“He’s helped me from a young age,” he said. “That’s where I have an advantage in the sport. I’ve been shooting so long, it’s second nature.”

He also credits some of the professional shooters on the national circuit who have supported him in the last year, including Jake Vibbert and Nate Bell. 

He said those professionals have helped take his passion to the next level. 

“This is my first year. I wouldn’t be doing as well without their mentoring,” he said.