Precision Pistol Marksman Never Lost Sight of Her Target

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Wednesday, July 24, 2019, 9:00 am
Mark Meyer

Judy Tant practices at the Demmer Shooting Center and competes there during the winter indoor season. (Photos by Raymond Holt)

A precision pistol shooter of the highest caliber, Canadian-born Judy Tant chooses her words carefully. As one might expect from a person who has spent the majority of her sporting career aiming at bull’s-eyes.

Tant, 69, is an eight-time national champion who has been banging out rounds for the past 20 years on her .22 (Hammerli 208S) and .45 (a custom 1911) at a clip few can match:

  • Ten times she’s been High Woman in National Trophy Matches (Camp Perry, Ohio), and a four-time Woman Champion at the National Indoor Precision Pistol Championship;
  • She was also a member of the winning Center Fire Team at the 2010 national matches;
  • A member of the Mayleigh Cup (international competition) team in 2004, and a 14-time member of the President’s 100;
  • She is Double Distinguished in Service Pistol and .22 Rimfire.

Judy Tant is an eight-time National Trophy Match champion. She will be inducted into the Greater Lansing Sports Hall of Fame on Thursday at the Lansing Center. (Photo courtesy of the Civilian Marksmanship Program)

The National Trophy Matches were established by federal law in 1903 and are now governed by the Civilian Marksmanship Program. Shooters from all over the U. S., civilian and military, test their skills and compete to determine the nation’s best service pistol and rifle shooters.

Tant has also won several state awards, including Michigan State Outdoor Pistol Champion (three times), Michigan State Service Pistol Champion (seven), Michigan State Indoor Pistol Champion (five), Michigan State Woman Pistol Champion (18).

On Thursday, Tant – an East Lansing clinical psychologist – will be inducted into the Greater Lansing Sports Hall of Fame along with seven other individuals (including former East Lansing football coach Roy Kramer), two high school teams and two community service award winners.

The Greater Lansing Sports Hall of Fame dates back to 1976 and now includes approximately 500 individuals and teams. Bob Every, the Hall’s chairman, said Tant is the first precision firearms shooter to be nominated and selected for entry.

“Her accomplishments speak for themselves,” Every said. “The level of proficiency and excellence that Judy has attained over the years is remarkable. She clearly deserves this type of recognition.”

Michigan law initially delayed her career as competitive shooter

Tant was nominated by fellow competitive shooter Ron Rowe of Mason.

“I’ve shot with and against Judy in both local and national events,” Rowe said. “And to see her line up (at 5-foot-1) at the national matches at Camp Perry, shooting against the top military people and civilian marksmen from across our country, and win … well, she’s one of the very best and deserves this honor.”

Tant, born and raised in Ottawa, became interested in competitive shooting after having completed her undergraduate degree in psychology at the University of Toronto. She took a year off from school to study the flute and – at the invitation of a fellow orchestra member – was introduced to shooting bullseye pistol at the Hart House range on campus.

She continued her shooting after moving to Montreal to study for a doctorate in clinical psychology. She arrived in East Lansing and was hired by Michigan State University in 1978 with appointments in the Counseling Center and the psychology department.

The only problem was she could not lawfully bring her guns into the country as a non-citizen.

“So my dad had to take care of them for the next 20 years until the law was overturned,” she said.

Tant resumed competitive shooting in 1997 at the age of 47 and has been on a roll ever since, despite having to deal with sport-related injuries. She belongs to five area clubs – Capitol City Rifle Club (her “home club” in Williamston), the Demmer Center (East Lansing), Capital Area Sportsman’s League (Lansing), Ionia, and Jackson – and competes in about 25 matches per year.

She’s most proud of her eight national titles as well as being the “High Man” on the 2010 national champion Centerfire team in open competition.

One of her favorite targets - a perfect 10 for 10.

“I really shot the lights out that day,” Tant said. “I picked the right time to hit my peak.”

She refers to her husband of 38 years, retired bank examiner Nelson Missbach, as her “secret weapon.”

“His support has been invaluable,” said Judy, who lives in Pinecrest and can occasionally be seen tending to one of the neighborhood gardens. “He’s not much of a shooter himself but he really enjoys being around the club members and my fellow shooters. He knows I love the sport almost as much as I love him.”

Tant has ordered 50 tickets for Thursday’s event, and is hopeful that her two sisters – retired and living in Canada – will be able to join her for the induction dinner and ceremonies at the Lansing Center.

“It’s been kind of crazy ever since I found out about this nomination and award,” she said, “but we’re planning to have a nice, little celebration.”

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