Folsom teens among top shooters in countryBy: Matt Long, Sports Editor
Three Folsom teens will be competing in the National Jr. Olympic Shooting Championships held this month at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs.
Sisters Izzy and Tori Watts and Seth Greyson are members of the Lincoln Rifle Club Junior Division advanced team and qualified for the Jr. Olympics in air rifle shooting. At qualifying, Izzy had the second highest score in the state in the women’s division, while Greyson had the top qualifying score in the men’s division to earn the title as state champion. The teens travel to Lincoln three times week to practice with the team.
At the Jr. Olympics, the teens will be standing and shooting pellets through their air rifle at a target 33 feet away. The trio will have 75 minutes to take 60 shots, and will do that on consecutive days and then their final scores will be added together. The top-eight scorers will then compete in a 24-shot elimination final. The top-three finishers will receive invitations to the World Cup match in South Korea this summer.
Izzy, 17, is a senior at Folsom High, and began shooting when she was 6 years old. She joined the Lincoln Rifle Club as a 9-year-old and made the advanced team last year.
“It’s a great team and they’re like a second family,” Izzy said. “I’ve been shooting for such a long time it’s just a part of my life now.”
Also involved in dancing and swimming, Izzy turned her attention to shooting at 15 and her work has paid off. Her score at Junior Olympic tryouts was 387 out of 400, finishing one point behind the state champion.
“It takes a lot of practice and patience to be a good shooter,” Izzy said. “You have to put everything together and practice how you are doing it to get close enough to perfection. You have to make sure all your gear is on correctly; where you place your hand on the rifle, your breathing, your heart rate, where your cheek is on the gun, and be lined up in the middle of the target to be sure you are ready to take the best shot possible.”
Like her sister, Tori, 14, also began shooting as a 6-year-old and joined the Lincoln Rifle Club at 9. An eighth-grader at Folsom Middle School, Tori splits her free time between shooting a rifle and ballet. She joined the advance team in Lincoln last year.
“I enjoy the challenge of making mistakes and then perfecting that mistake to make it better,” Tori said. “When I started shooting it was pretty difficult and I remember crying a few times. Now it’s a lot easier and more fun. You have to be dedicated to the sport to be good at it. If you’re not having a good time doing it, it will be struggle. You can’t rush a shot. You have to be patient.”
Greyson, an, 18-year-old senior at Vista del Lago, started shooting in the Boy Scouts with Troop 396. After one season of learning the ropes at Lincoln, Greyson joined the advanced shooting team and has progressed rapidly. His state championship winning score at the Jr. Olympic tryouts was a 557 out of 600.
This is the first trip the Jr. Olympics for all three teens. Greyson’s competing through April 12, while the girls compete April 16-18.
“This is my first time going so I’m not getting my hopes up too much,” Izzy said. “I just want to have a good time with my team and make the most of it.”
Said Tori, “I’d like to score a 580, which is a pretty high standard. My best score is a 583.”