(COVINGTON, La.) — Sophomore Garrett Cooper competed in the Junior Olympics in Colorado Springs, Colorado, in April for Riflery. Cooper scored his personal best on the first day with a score of 594.3, and on the second day he scored a 583.6, adding up to a total score of 1177.9. Entire high school teams competed in the Junior Olympics, but Cooper shot as the sole competitor from Louisiana, placing 34th out of 75 people in J2 division, and 98th out of 177 overall.
“It was an amazing experience,” Cooper said. “It changes your outlook on what you are actually doing.”
While Garrett was at the Olympics he also received some coaching by former Olympians, including shooting sports legend Lones Wigger and three-time Olympic medalist Matt Emmons.
Cooper was one of 200 people selected from a 5,000 person pool competing in the Junior Olympics. Tryouts for the event were held in December at Ole Miss in Oxford, Mississippi. Tryouts are held in every state, but Cooper decided to tryout in Mississippi for two categories: air rifle and .22 shooting.
“I placed the top in the state,” Cooper said. “I shot air rifle and .22, so I decided to pick both and got to go (to the Junior Olympics).”
Cooper began his shooting career when he was 13 years old with the support of his father, who influenced his pursuit. This interest led Cooper to get involved in 4H, which is America’s largest outdoor youth development organization.
“I started when I was 13,” Cooper said. “My dad likes hunting, but I don’t, but he thought I was a good shot. And then I got involved in 4H.”
Since then, Cooper has been recognized by St.Paul’s, and has decided to start a rifle club to allow other students to give riflery a shot.
Cooper plans to continue his shooting career in college, and has already begun touring schools and meeting with coaches. His ultimate goal is to compete in the 2020 Olympics.
(all photos courtesy Tricia Cooper)