Becoming the level of competitor who could reach the National Junior Olympics was a feat for Taylor Gibson.
Placing as well as she did at the age of 15 years old in her first time at the event was something else.
The freshman from North Salem High finished 12th overall in air rifle, including second in the J2 age group (ages 15-17), and 37th in small bore on April 15-17 at the National Junior Olympic Shooting Championships at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Gibson has made a quick progression in the world of precision shooting, but this was another step forward.
“There’s like college athletes, NCAA champions, and like all these really big name people that you hear about shooting really good at all of these competitions, I was there with them and I got to compete with them, and it was really cool,” Gibson said.
She qualified for the Junior Olympics in small bore at a competition in December at her home club of Four Corners Rod and Gun Club, placing first in the competition.
In January, she competed in the air rifle Junior Olympic qualifier at Tri-County Gun Club in Sherwood. Gibson shot 384, one point short of the qualifying standard, but because not enough girls qualified, she earned a berth in the Junior Olympics in that discipline, too.
“I had a really bad day that day,” Gibson said. “I usually shoot better than that.”
At the Junior Olympics she shot personal records of 408.4 the first day and 411.8 the second day in air rifle.
To get funding to travel to Colorado to compete, she gave a presentation to the Four Corners’ education foundation board, and they awarded her $500 for the trip.
“They were super awesome for doing that,” she said. “That helped so much and I really appreciated it.”
While in Colorado, Gibson briefly met one of her idols in Launi Meili, an Olympic gold medalist and rifle coach at Air Force.
Gibson is focused in on her goal of competing in the Olympics.
“She’s special,” North Salem precision shooting coach Jim Wagner said. “She’ll be in the 2020 Olympics. I think so.”
bpoehler@StatesmanJournal.com, 503-399-6701 or Twitter.com/bpoehler