My Shooting Journey: From a Shooting Clinic to the Junior Olympics!

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By Garrett Cooper

My shooting journey started when I was thirteen years old. My dad introduced me to 4-H shooting sports, and I had no idea what it was and had not even heard of it. In the summer of 2014 my dad took me to a junior high-powered shooting clinic and the next day I shot my first high-powered competition.  After that match I continued to shoot at the monthly high-powered matches at which point the LSA loaned me shooting equipment such as a rifle and everything needed to start shooting. Much like the 4-H shooting sports, many people in the LSA were willing to give their time to help coach and improve my shooting skills which was a tremendous help considering I was a beginner and always looking for pointers.

The following year, when I was fourteen, I continued to shoot high-powered matches while shooting as a senior shooter for 4-H in air rifle. I was fortunate enough to be on the four-person team representing Louisiana in Nebraska at the 4-H National Competition. Our team finished 11th overall that year.  Since I could only go to the National Championships once in each discipline I started shooting smallbore in an effort to go again. I really focused that summer on practicing, in turn earning a spot to return to the National Championships for a second year. Our team worked for countless hours and won the National Championship in smallbore. I finished second overall as an individual at the age of fifteen.

After returning from Nebraska I started to shoot precision air rifle (60 shots standing at 10m). That year I qualified to go to the Junior Olympics, something I couldn’t have dreamt of years before. In 2017 I was fortunate enough to attend not only the Junior Olympics but USA Nationals in Fort Benning, Georgia and Winter Airgun in Colorado Springs. For the past couple of years I have been going to these three matches and continuously competing against myself and other like-minded shooters with the goal of always growing in the sport.

Besides shooting I have served the community as a 4-H Ambassador helping with smallbore rifle practices. I helped to teach beginner shooters and prepare them for their competitions, I worked with other Ambassadors to schedule competitions, put together fundraisers, and help at the NRA banquet.  I’m so grateful for the many coaches and volunteers who have spent countless hours helping me. The LSA has supported me covering many of my expenses with traveling around the country, helping me to continue to grow in shooting sports.

While attending USA shooting matches I have been blessed to meet many college coaches. It had always been a goal of mine to shoot on a NCAA D1 rifle team. This past year, after having a successful year, I was recruited by The University of Akron in Ohio, to shoot on their team. If it wasn’t for my dad, the LSA, and the many people cheering me on throughout my shooting career, I would not have had the opportunity to go to my dream school and find a sport I truly love. 

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