BISMARCK, ND (KFYR) — Knowing gun safety and knowing how to shoot a gun is one thing, but for a Bismarck teenager, perfecting his marksmanship and striving for new personal bests is what motivates him.
Travis Harper is preparing to represent North Dakota at the 2022 Winter Airgun Championships. What started as a fun family hobby quickly became a driving passion in his life.
“I want to be able to go to the Olympics multiple times and by the end of my high school career I want to be in the top three and on the podium,” Harper said.
Harper’s coach at the Bismarck-Mandan Rifle and Pistol Association says unlike most sports which can be physically demanding, shooting is a mental game, and he thinks Harper has what it takes to go far .
“It’s really up to the shooters or the competitors, it’s up to them how far they want to compete in this thing. It’s really, anybody can do this thing, and if you have the motivation and the dedication to go as far as you want is how far you will go,” said Tom Thompson, the trainer of the Bismarck Mandan Rifle and Pistol Junior Program.
In January, Harper competed in the 2022 National Junior Olympic Rifle Championship. He not only qualified for the Junior Olympics with his scores, but also achieved his personal best, just ahead of the Olympic judges.
“Some of my best air rile scores were actually at the Junior Olympics, I shot in the 5.90s or 5.80s,” Harper said.
Although he has fun and loves sports, for Harper, shooting is something he takes seriously. In preparation for his December competition, he has increased his training from twice a week to three times, with each training session lasting one to two hours. He also trained and practiced with Olympic shooters to improve his skills.
“He’s one of those guys who seems to be very dedicated to the sport, he’s put in a lot more effort over the last year and a half or so,” Thompson said.
Harper has only been shooting for the sport for two years and has already received high scores and accolades from several competitions he has entered. His coach believes that if he continues on this path, success will come flying his way.
At just 14 years old, Harper’s best score is in the 5.90s. The highest score in this division is 6.00.
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