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PostPosted: Thu Jan 11, 2018 10:06 am 
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Location: Midland, MI
Local air rifle shooter aims for 2020 Paralympics
Craig Shoup, Reporter Published 2:22 p.m. ET Dec. 7, 2017
Taylor Farmer, 19, moving to Colorado to train for Tokyo games

ERIE TOWNSHIP - A local air rifle shooter just two years into her career has set her sights on a new target, the 2020 Paralympics in Tokyo.

Taylor Farmer, 19, shot her first gun in 2012, and only shot her first air rifle at Camp Perry in 2015, but it did not take long for her and top shooters in the country to recognize her talents and in January she will move to Colorado Springs, Colorado, to begin training with other American Olympic athletes.

Farmer has been a steady, natural shooter, putting up consistent scores and garnering a lot of attention in the country for her calm, dead-eye air rifle shooting.

"In my first year in competition, I finished second at nationals, and I was named in the Presidential 100 as one of the top shooters in the country. Some people shoot all their life to get into that," Farmer said.

Staring down her rifle's sight, the lefty shooter often takes aim at her 10 meter target, pacing her breaths, letting out one last one before pulling the trigger with hopes of scoring a 10.9, the top score for air rifle, a target the size of the tip of a pencil.

"The more you practice the better you get, and the easier competitions are," Farmer said. "Competitive shooting is 90 percent mental and 10 percent physical. The more you practice the more confident you become."

“I've never let my disability get in the way. You need to make goals to set out for your dreams so they can become a reality.”
Taylor Farmer


Once she shot an air rifle for the first time, she knew she wanted to shoot competitively and one day represent the United States at the Paralympics, an international competition for men and women with disabilities.

Living with cerebral palsy, Farmer has turned her love of shooting into a dream of competing in her sport's biggest stage.

"I've never let my disability get in the way," Farmer said. "You need to make goals to set out for your dreams so they can become a reality."

Farmer, a Margaretta High School graduate living in Sandusky County, said classmates and teachers would always tell her she could not shoot for a profession, but she was quick to point out many Olympic athletes do earn a living doing what they love.

"There were a lot of people that didn't think you could make a living out of shooting," Farmer said. "They just didn't know, but look at Michael Phelps, he's made a living out of swimming."

Once she caught the bug of competitive shooting, Farmer began setting goals that would allow her to compete in the Paralympics.

And the reality is near, as Farmer leaves in January to fulfill her dreams that started from humble beginnings learning air rifle technique at the Gary Anderson Civilian Marksmanship Shooting Center during open shooting held Tuesdays and Thursday from 5 to 8 p.m.

Farmer's coach, Greg Drown, of Fremont, said he knew Farmer had what it took to compete for championships and medals immediately after watching her the first time.

"I've been working with her for two years and she came in one day to open shooting and I knew she had the skill," Drown said. "It was just up to me to help her prepare mentally."

And Drown said most of the skill comes from patience and mental fortitude as shooters often deal with high-stress competitions involving multiple rounds of target shooting.

"She has the skills, but shooting for score is hard," Drown said.

Drown said he was able to help the naturally gifted Farmer learn the basics of composure and patience required in competitive shooting.

"Greg really taught me how to handle myself at a competition," Farmer said. "If you miss a target, you don't want to show frustration, because it will only make it worse."

Drown said many Olympic and Paralympic shooters spend years honing their craft, unlike Farmer who has only been shooting competitively for two years.

"It's unbelievable what she is doing," Drown said. "People shoot a lifetime to get that good, and she just finished in the top eight at the World Cup in Bangkok in November. That is huge."

Taylor Farmer will move to Colorado Springs to beginBuy Photo
Taylor Farmer will move to Colorado Springs to begin training for the 2020 Paralympics. (Photo: Craig Shoup/The News-Messenger)
Drown is no rookie himself, having shot in matches at Camp Perry, including winning the Camp Perry Invitational in 2009. He also shot competitively at the Ohio State University from 1990 to 1994.

At the time, Drown shot from the traditional standing or prone position, before being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis 16 years ago.

After considering giving up shooting, a friend talked Drown into continuing his passion, and he uses a wheelchair to shoot competitively.

He also coaches other shooters, and said he and Farmer make a great team.

"We always joke with each other that I make her better and she makes me better," Drown said.

Taylor Farmer competes in 10 meter air rifle at Camp
Taylor Farmer competes in 10 meter air rifle at Camp Perry. (Photo: Submitted)
As Farmer begins her new career training for the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics, Drown said the sky's the limit for the 19-year-old.

"She's a one-in-a-million shooter," Drown said.

cshoup@gannett.com

419-334-1035


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