Recently found out about middle school student Ethan Bauer, who qualified for the Junior Olympics next week in air rifle and air pistol. He ultimately aspires to compete for the Air Force Academy.
Gun control: Eagle Rock seventh-grader is one straight shooter
By MARLOWE HEREFORD
Ethan Bauer’s future in competitive shooting was evident as a child when he went outside to shoot an air soft gun.
Now a seventh-grader at Eagle Rock Junior High School, Bauer will represent Idaho at the Junior Olympics in air rifle and air pistol from Tuesday to Saturday and April 14 to 20 in Colorado Springs, Colo. In June, he will compete at the USA Shooting Rifle and Pistol National Championships in Fort Benning, Ga.
Bauer took up competitive shooting just two years ago. Since then, the 13-year-old has become the leading shooter under coach Randy Shikashio at the Cedar Hills Junior 4-H Gun Club in Blackfoot, which is always open to new members. He practices three times a week for two to three hours and enters local competitions year round, more so in the summer.
Bauer competed at last summer’s national championships in Anniston, Ala., and said he is familiar with the big-stage atmosphere. That experience also led him set new goals for this year.
“It was pretty impressive,” Bauer said. “At the Junior Olympics, I want to at least shoot above my high score. In practice, my scores tend to be higher than competition.”
Bauer was the first in his family to take up the sport. His sister, Jenna, who is two years younger, tried competitive shooting for a while before deciding to take up other activities instead.
Bauer’s mother, Karen, said his journey so far has been eye-opening for the family.
“He developed a love for it,” Karen Bauer said. “It’s been fantastic to watch. You go to these competitions and see these kids just dedicated to the sport. To be successful at this sport, you literally have to stand still and do nothing except pull a trigger.”
This is Bauer’s final season competing at the J3 classification of USA Shooting before moving up to J2. The qualifying score for the Junior Olympics is 560. Karen Bauer said her son has been shooting consistently in the 560s over the past several months.
Bauer described competitive shooting as a “very mental game.” Overthinking can lead to getting a score lower than a shooter desires.
“To prepare myself when I’m shooting, I can’t think of how the score will be or count into my head how the score will be,” Bauer said. “I center my focus on the target.”
Despite his short time as a competitive shooter, Bauer has no plans to part ways with the sport anytime soon. He is ultimately working toward obtaining a shooting scholarship.
“I’d like to go to college at the Air Force academy,” Bauer said. “Shooting at the club level will help me get there.”
Bauer’s family has also noticed how he has benefited from the sport in other ways. Bauer is a Boy Scout, participates in karate and plays drums, guitar and piano, but competitive shooting has given him a different perspective.
“I wasn’t the biggest fan of the sport after six months but it’s kinda of grown on me since then,” Karen Bauer said. “I think the sport introduces something to kids that they really don’t get in school, focusing on little details and technicalities.”