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Tracy Frank, Published September 11 2013

Her Voice: West Fargo Guard member a ‘top shot’ with rifle

Her Voice is a weekly article about women in or from our area and how they make an impact on the world around them. If you know someone SheSays should feature in HerVoice, email Tracy Frank at tfrank@forumcomm.com.

FARGO – Spc. Jennie Du Shane doesn’t own a gun. But she is the first female soldier in the North Dakota Army National Guard to earn a prestigious shooting designation.

The 21-year-old West Fargo woman has been a military police officer in the Guard’s 191st Military Police Company for the past four years, working one weekend a month.

She also works as a security officer in Fargo and is a student at Minnesota State Community and Technical College in Moorhead, studying criminal justice. Her goal is to become a law enforcement K-9 officer.

It’s something she’s wanted to do since she was 7 years old and met her first working dog during career day in school, she said.

“I just thought it was so cool that you could work with dogs and be a cop,” she said.

Du Shane says she’s stern but fair, and her friends say she’d be a good officer.

But those who don’t know her are surprised at her chosen profession and military involvement, she said.

While out in public in uniform, she’s had strangers come up to her and tell her she’s too pretty to be in the military, she said.

Those reactions are frustrating, and Du Shane doesn’t quite know how to deal with them, she said.

She likes the military for its structure and leadership. “I’ve always felt it’s where I belong,” she said.

Du Shane was further motivated to join the military by her involvement in Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps in high school and by watching soldiers fight the 2009 Red River flood, she said.

Since joining the Guard, Du Shane has participated in two flood fights.

“When you see individuals come up to you, and their home’s destroyed and they’re just thanking you, it’s tear-jerking for sure,” she said.

She’s also becoming a military stand-out. During annual training last year, Du Shane was named the “Top Shot” in the 191st Military Police Company.

That’s when she learned about the Squad Designated Marksman program, an intense two-week marksmanship course in Arkansas, and readily signed up.

While in training, Du Shane’s instructors told her that if she graduated, she would be the third female to graduate from the program in all the time the instructors had been there, Du Shane said.

The program started with 32 soldiers – Du Shane the only woman –from all over the country. After several rounds of testing, only 11 soldiers graduated, Du Shane among them.

She became the first female soldier in the North Dakota Army National Guard to earn the Squad Designated Marksman distinction.

While in the program, Du Shane had to shoot a rifle at targets anywhere from 100 to 600 meters away. Sometimes the targets were moving. And sometimes, she had to hit a specific area on the target or it didn’t count.

Du Shane says she worried about failing and even though she’d been named her military police company’s Top Shot, she doubted her shooting ability.

“I believed for the longest time that women couldn’t shoot as well as men,” she said, adding that when she was named Top Shot, she thought it was just a fluke.

Aside from the military, Du Shane’s only experience with a gun was her involvement on the air rifle team while in JROTC in high school. She’s never gone hunting, never shot a BB gun and didn’t play shooting video games, she said.

Du Shane doesn’t doubt herself anymore, and she hopes to inspire other women to have more confidence in themselves when it comes to shooting a gun, she said.

“I finally believe that I am a good shooter,” she said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Tracy Frank at (701) 241-5526