When Will Brown began going to the Twin Falls Rifle & Pistol Club in 2006, it was simply a fun, family activity.
It has become much more.
Brown, a 2010 graduate of Twin Falls High, will compete in the 10-meter air pistol Saturday and the 50-meter free pistol Aug. 10 at the Summer Olympic in Rio de Janeiro. The Opening Ceremony is Friday night.
At the U.S. Trials in June, Brown earned the national airgun title, edging 2008 Olympic bronze medalist Jason Turner of Rochester, N.Y., for a spot on Team USA. Because Brown met the standard in free pistol, he also qualified for that event.
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Brown, 24, considers the air pistol his strongest event.
He won the 10-meter air pistol title at the 2013 International Shooting Sport Federation World Cup in Fort Benning, Ga., and took silver in the ISSF World Cup in Thailand earlier this year. He is a three-time Junior Olympic champion in air pistol (2009-11).
“I know I am capable of winning a medal, but I also know there are a lot of other guys who are capable of winning it. As long as I go down there and I shoot well and I am able to perform well, the rest is not up to me,’’ Brown said.
According to USA Shooting News, Brown is one of five Americans to win gold in the air pistol since ISSF World Cups began in 1986.
“I think I do have natural ability,” Brown said. “But a lot of it is just due to work ethic, I guess, and the time I put into it.”
A year after winning his first Junior Olympic title in 2009, Brown was invited to live and train at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo. He spent 3 1/2 years at the center training under national pistol coach Sergey Luzov.
“I won a medal on my first international trip (to Germany in 2010),” Brown said, “so they decided to keep me around.”
Rio will be Brown’s first Olympics, although he came close to qualifying for London in 2012, finishing fourth at the trials.
Shooting made its Olympic debut at Athens in 1896, and the sport is described as a test of accuracy that requires intellectual and psychological skill rather than physical strength. There are 15 shooting events in total — nine for men and six for women.
Medals are decided by a matter of millimeters.
“The 10 (point) ring on our target (for air pistol) is about a half inch, and for the qualification round, we shoot 60 record shot. We have an hour and 15 minutes to do that,” Brown said. “You have a total possible score of 600 points. At the end of that qualification round, they take the top eight shooters, and then they shoot an elimination-style final.
“You get put up in front of a big crowd, and you shoot shots on command. As you progress through the final, they start eliminating the guy that’s in the last position until you get all the way to the end. The last two guys end up firing 20 rounds in total to decide who wins.”
It is the same course of fire for the 50-meter free pistol, except the competition is outdoors, and the 10-point ring is 2 inches in diameter.
Brown is hoping a return to Idaho includes extra weight in his luggage.
“I am attempting to go down there with the attitude that I’ve got all the work done already, and I’m just there to do my job, have some fun and hopefully shoot well,” he said.
Idaho connections to Rio
▪ Isabella Amado, Boise State, gymnast, Panama
▪ Jordin Andrade, Boise State, 400 hurdles, Cape Verde
▪ Kristin Armstrong, Boise/University of Idaho, cycling (road race and time trial), United States
▪ Will Brown, Twin Falls, shooting (10-meter air pistol and 50-meter free pistol), United States
▪ Graham DeLaet, Boise State, golf, Canada
▪ Kurt Felix, Boise State, decathlon, Grenada
▪ George Ivanov, Boise State, freestyle wrestling (163 pounds), Bulgaria
▪ Courtney McGregor, Boise State, gymnast, New Zealand
▪ Angela Whyte, University of Idaho, 110 hurdles, Canada
▪ Bruce Burnett, former Idaho State wrestler, Meridian High coach, current resident of Dover, Idaho, U.S. men’s freestyle wrestling coach
▪ Rosie Main, Boise, team chiropractor for USA Wrestling