MILITARY MATTERS: Army Reservist shooter aiming for the Olympics

MILITARY MATTERS: Army Reservist shooter aiming for the Olympics
Sarah Beard, US Olympic Shooting, 3 Position Rifle, Air Gun (Source: Jason Dennis)

FORT BENNING, Ga. (WTVM) - A young shooter on Fort Benning is hoping to take part in this year’s Summer Olympics in Tokyo. In early February, she competes to earn a spot on Team USA.

Army Reservist 1st Lt. Sarah Beard grew up shooting an air rifle in her basement, hoping to follow in the footsteps of her father, a retired Major in the Army Reserves who was on the 1984 Olympic team.

"I got started with competitive shooting because my Dad was actually a shooter in the same unit I’m in now,” Beard told News Leader 9.

The 28-year-old Army Marksmanship Unit Olympic hopeful, who enlisted in the Army in 2017, is a shooter instructor for the Army Marksmanship Unit. She finds out very soon whether she will be going from Fort Benning to Tokyo to compete in the 2020 Olympics.

"I’m excited and nervous about what potentially could happen this summer (in Tokyo). If I make the team, then I’ve got a lot of work ahead of me,” 1st Lt. Beard said.

She has been training or shooting at least four to five hours a day right now to prep for what she hopes is her first Olympics.

After leading Texas Christian University’s women’s rifle team to a pair of NCAA championships, Beard’s success has continued with many wins, including a gold medal at the Pan American Games in Peru last year.

She said, “To be able to represent the Army and U.S. and Fort Benning is a huge honor.”

On the cusp of the Tokyo Olympics, 1st Lt. Beard is in third place after the first round of the Olympic trials.

The second and final round will begin February 6 in Colorado, where Team USA will be determined. Beard shoots two events, one being further away with a 22 long rifle with open sights.

“That’s three positions: prone, standing and kneeling. And you shoot that 50 meters away and you’re shooting at something about the size of a dime. Those targets are behind me right now,” Beard explained.

“The other event is 10 meters, air rifle, so .177 caliber and we’re shooting compressed air at something 10 meters away the size of a period at the end of a sentence.”

She could make Team USA for one or both disciplines, to add to her crowded trophy case for the 2018 USA shooting national champion in air rifle on Fort Benning.

"If I make the Olympic team, the goal is to medal. Making the podium would be the highest honor I could get for my country and Army and marksmanship unit,” 1st Lt. Beard added.

And we will be rooting for her.

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