Me On the Olympic Shooting Team, Yes . . . YOU CAN

Me On the Olympic Shooting Team, Yes . . . YOU CAN!
By Michael Theimer, Youth Programs and Athlete Development Manager

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Me On the Olympic Shooting Team, Yes . . . YOU CAN!
USA Shooting

FORT BENNING, GA –-( Can I or do I have the ability to win a place on the US Olympic Team and to win medals at the Olympic Games?

I remember as a pre-teen shooting in my backyard or on my Aunt’s farm wondering what it would be like to compete in the Olympics.

If you are asking yourself “am I good enough,” or “can I compete at the international and Olympic level,” the answer is YES you can, IF . . . .

The answer to this question for me came after about one year as a member of my high school JROTC rifle team. I was a sophomore shooting every day for an hour and a half or more, competing in local competitions, watching my skill and score increase. Being pushed, challenged, and supported by my JROTC coach made it easy for me to see myself on the winner’s stand in the future.

It wasn’t a question of “if,” but when? Being somewhat impatient, I wanted to make it happen sooner than later.

Between my junior and senior year I worked all summer saving nearly every dollar to purchase my own Anschutz 1413 Super Match target rifle. My Dad said he would buy the leather shooting jacket if I saved the money for the rifle. This put my shooting career in high gear. My freshman year in college, I was on the varsity rifle team, a feat that no freshman had achieved before me. I was motivated to be the best. I learned about the US Army Marksmanship Unit in my junior year of college, and five years later I was competing in the Olympic Games.

When you read articles and profiles of past and current Olympians, you see common threads in how they all started. Going hunting with grandfathers, dads, or uncles at an early age, starting with a BB gun, pellet gun, 22 cal. rifle, pistol, or shotgun. It starts as a lesson in gun safety, having fun shooting at cans or targets, maybe in your backyard, someone’s farm or at a local shooting club. You realize how much fun it is and start wanting to do more shooting, getting more time on the range or in the field.

And then you get the urge to shoot the local turkey shoot or club competition. Now you’re hooked. You watch your skills increase along with your confidence. When you ask for help there are plenty of adults and competitive shooters offering to help in anyway they can. It’s the way of our sport–like an extended family. However, be careful, not all advice is right for you . . . but that’s a topic for another day.

The details of the path to the Olympics plays out differently for each of us, but the underlying basics exist in the stories for most Olympic shooting athletes.

The big “IF” at the end of “Yes you can” refers to you’re willingness to practice hard, learn from a good coach and others in the sport, compete in as many matches as possible, join a club or facility that you use on a regular basis, obtain and maintain good equipment/guns, and stay focused on your goals. I could add more philosophical concepts to this list, but these areas are enough to begin. As with any sport, there is a learning curve and how fast you progress up that learning curve depends on your commitment to continuous improvement.

The path to the Olympic Games isn’t for everyone, but if you have the drive and commitment, YES you can and USA Shooting is here to help you along the path.

Michael Theimer, Youth Programs and Athlete Development Manager, USA Shooting. Contact me at [email protected] if you want to learn more about how to get on the Olympic path

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