The ‘How To’ Gun Girl: How to Get Your Child (or Yourself!) into Olympic Rifle Shooting, Part 1

The Rio Olympics ended a little less than a month ago, so now is the perfect time to start thinking about the next summer Olympic Games in Tokyo 2020! Side note: in saying that, I definitely feel like the Head Elf after Christmas Day in the Will Ferrell movie Elf: “It’s time to start preparations for next Christmas!”

It’s time to start preparations for Next Christmas!

Growing up as an air rifle and smallbore rifle shooter, I wanted to shoot for Team USA at the Olympic Games, but my career didn’t take me that far. I’ve written about this before, so I invite you to link hop on this blog to find out more about that. The Olympic bug bites nearly every young air rifle or smallbore rifle shooter at one time or another. If you would like your child to learn how to shoot in the way that could get them qualified for the Olympics, the first thing I’d recommend is to find a good rifle club that supports junior shooting, specifically precision rifle shooting. For me, that was the Acorns Junior Rifle Club and the NOVA (Northern Virginia) Sharpshooters.


Ginny Thrasher started shooting at the NOVA Sharpshooters junior rifle club, and last month in Rio her air rifle skills and her competitive grit earned her the first Gold Medal awarded at the Rio Olympics.

To find out more about getting into Olympic-style junior rifle shooting, I spoke with one of my former coaches, Tom Pike. Tom is now at the helm of one of the biggest junior rifle clubs in the US, and he shared a lot of wisdom about how to find a growing club and why shooting in such a club can take a junior shooter from being a “good shot” to being Olympic-level “great”.


This is Tom Pike, or at least, this is Tom Pike’s Back. As a coach for the last 14 years, he is frequently finding himself in a position like this – at a range, recording scores and encouraging his shooters. Photo courtesy of Tom Pike.


Tom Pike is is one of the head coaches and administrators for the NOVA Sharpshooters, a rifle team run out of the Izaak Walton League in Fairfax County, Virginia. He is also a coach, shooter, parent of shooters, hunter, and fellow enginerd. Over the fourteen years he’s coached shooters in Northern Virginia, Tom has seen some very talented athletes start their careers at the NOVA Sharpshooters range. The list includes the names of NCAA champions, national match winners, and Olympians.

Continue reading about Emily Monroe’s “How to Get Your Child (or Yourself!) into Olympic Rifle Shooting, Part 1: Find a Good Rifle Club” here and visit her blog “The ‘How-To’ Gun Girl”

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    The Women's Outdoor News, aka The WON, features news, reviews and stories about women who are shooting, hunting, fishing and actively engaging in outdoor adventure. This publication is for women, by women.