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UTEP Rifle coach breaks Mexican record and strives to fulfill lifelong dream

Iziah Moreno
The previous Mexican record of 581 was held by Palafox as well.

In a triumphant return to the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) shooting range, UTEP Head Rifle Coach Andrea Palafox had her eye on the prize and set a record for Mexico at the 53rd ISSF World Cup held in Baku, Azerbaijan from Aug. 14 to Sept. 1.  

The head coach’s passion for shooting began when she was 15 years old. She followed in the footsteps of her family’s marksmanship after her grandfather, father and brother. 

“Competing internationally was one of the first things that I wanted to accomplish as a young athlete,” Palafox said. “My dad inspired me to one day compete in the Olympic games and world cups. It’s something that he always dreamed of when he was younger.” 

Leading up to the competition, Palafox put her plan into action and practiced any chance she got when she was not coaching the UTEP rifle team. She also worked out and dieted in order to be in superior shape for the competition. 

The previous Mexican record at the ISSF was 581 and it was also set by Palafox. At this year’s ISSF competition she shattered her old record by scoring 586 in the 50m Rifle event in the first stage. 

Palafox said she was a little shocked at first after learning she had set a new record for Mexico. 

“I tend not to focus on scores but instead on the work that I am doing,” Palafox said. “When I first saw the score, I was really surprised and very happy because it’s something that not even men have been able to achieve. It’s a really good score and I was very happy to have done it at an international competition.” 

While competing in the ISSF, UTEP Rifle Head Coach Andrea Palafox set a new Mexican record, beating the old one that was held by her. (Iziah Moreno)

In the elimination round of the 50m Rifle three positions event, Palafox placed fifth in the first relay, recording a 586-27x score: 199 kneeling, 198 prone, 189 standing, and then during the qualifications round, Palafox shot 581-24x: 193 kneeling, 196 prone, 192 standing. She essentially tied with five other shooters recording 581. The differential comes from the X-count. 

She placed thirty-sixth overall at one of the most prestigious international events in shooting and most challenging and competitive events at the Olympic games.  

Over the years, Palafox has won the national record multiple times. She is the first Mexican female to have the first national record, which she gained in 2005. Since then, the discipline of rifle shooting has been increasing and more people are taking interest in competing in the event. Palafox says this means more work for her.  

“The discipline has been growing and there’s more people practicing now,” Palafox said. “It’s still a sport that is not very popular in Mexico. It’s quite difficult to have the equipment, ammunition, and a place to practice. So, to achieve a score like this is pretty impressive. I think my win can inspire more people in Mexico.” 

The head coach says she wouldn’t have been able to achieve this without the support of the people she works with at UTEP and the rifle team. She also says that she noticed her recent win has inspired the members of the rifle team to work harder and push their limits. 

“I’ve been looking forward to this moment my whole life and at this point of my life is when I feel the most prepared and confident that I can achieve a spot in the Olympics,” said Palafox. “I’m just not sure if I will because nobody knows the future, but I want to enjoy it and be present just to be able to show all the hard work that I’ve been doing in the past months and years.” 

Palafox will compete in the 2023 XIX Pan American Games from Oct. 20 through Nov. 5 in Santiago, Chile at the Polígono de tiro de Pudahuel. This will determine if she gets the chance to compete in the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris, France. 

Alyson Rodriguez is a contributor and may be reached at [email protected]; @alyson_rod1127 on X.

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About the Contributors
Alyson Rodriguez
Alyson Rodriguez, Contributor/Writer

Alyson Rodriguez is a senior at the University of Texas at El Paso, currently majoring in multimedia journalism with a minor in leadership studies. She is a contributor at The Prospector. She joined The Prospector in the Fall of 2020 as a contributor for the Arts and Culture section and has now written articles for the sports and news section and has done podcast segments as well. After discovering her passion for journalism through The Prospector, Alyson has gone to intern at El Paso Matters, NPR Next Generation Texas Newsroom and the Texas Standard. 

Iziah Moreno
Iziah Moreno, Contributor/Photographer
Iziah Moreno is a contributor for The Prospector. He is a freshman majoring in multimedia journalism with a minor in marketing. After graduation, he hopes to work in the world of photojournalism and media.
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