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Beauty Queen Soldier would choose a hunting rifle over a Tiara any day

She may be young, beautiful, and successful, but the former Miss Kansas didn’t always have it easy.

Sure, she’s a Sergeant in the Kansas Army National Guard, she was a Top 10 Miss America finalist, and she’s about to host her own TV series. But when she was younger, she struggled.

Growing up in a large military family with eight siblings and frequent moves, Theresa Vail told Fox 411 that bullies at school and problems at home took her to a “dark place.”

It was a hunting trip with her father that saved her life, she says:

“I nearly committed suicide. My dad was the one that said, ‘You know what Theresa, we need to find you something that you love. Something that makes you want to stay alive.’

Vail continued “Hunting had always been his thing, it was his way of getting away from the kids — there were nine of us — and getting away from work and he decided to take me,” she said. “It became our special thing, none of the other kids did it.”

Even at the age of ten, she realized how important the sport was not only to her, but her family: she and her father were hunting for food.

“What I got from the outdoors is serenity…and peace. It taught me to appreciate what God has naturally given us.”

Her new Outdoor Channel TV series, Limitless with Theresa Vail, will push her to her limits. She hopes the program will also encourage others to set goals for themselves.

“God doesn’t put things in your life that you can’t handle,” Vail said. “I want to continue as a spokesperson for the Second Amendment, and supporting women in defending themselves.”

Vail grabbed national attention in 2013, as the first Miss America contestant with visible tattoos. She has the “Serenity” prayer tattooed on her ribs, and a tattoo in homage to her military service on her left shoulder.

Limitless will premiere in July.

–By Caroline Schaeffer