Craig shooter qualifies for nationals

At age 13 it isn't often that one has his own weekend home, but that's the case for Ari Osborn. The pianist and air pistol shooter spends most of his off days from home school going to Colorado Springs to improve the skills of his two talents.

"By now we know most of the deals for hotels in Colorado Springs," he said. "We can search on the internet the week before and usually find a four-star hotel for $35."

January has been the peak season for travel for Osborn. He's been in the Springs every weekend preparing for last weekend's Colorado State Junior Olympic competition in shooting.

A year ago Osborn was competing in his first major competition at the state championships. There, as a 12-year-old, he shot a 490 out of a possible 600 points, won his division and started to show promise.

He upped his practice time after that with hours each day at either the shooting range set up in the Centennial Mall of Craig, his home, or occasionally competing in matches. He brought his average up into the 500s and had set a goal of shooting a 545 at the state competition.

"I probably put too much pressure on myself and didn't think enough about the basics," Osborn said about last weekend's performance. "I was disappointed with the outcome."

Osborn's disappointment comes after he shot a 517, the second-best score at the tournament for the junior age groups. He easily won his 14 & under division and by shooting higher than 510, qualified for the National Junior Olympics in March.

Going into the match, the teen-ager was coming off an injury he suffered three weeks before at a junior development camp at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs.

"Shooting injuries usually come from overuse," he said. "That week we just shot and shot and I wore my arm out."

He suffered tendonitis in the rotator cuff of his shoulder, a common injury for pistol shooters since they stand with their shooting arm extended hours at a time. Osborn took a week off to let it heel before the state championships.

"You have to take time off or it will turn into a tear," he said. "It was nice to get back into shooting but I may have been off a bit."

In a match the shooter is required to take 60 shots in 1 hour, 45 minutes. Each circle on the target is assigned points with the bull's eye worth 10 points. Osborn said his average is up to 535 and he hopes to improve that by 15 points in the next six months. If he can do that he may earn a spot on the country's junior development team. That would expand his trips for shooting from Colorado Springs to around the world for tournaments.

While a member of the junior team could qualify for the Olympics, usually those spots are reserved for a national team member who is 20 years or older.

"The junior team would be the next step in my goal to be on the national team," he said. "Then I could compete to make it to the Olympics."

Those are some lofty goals for somebody who isn't even old enough to drive himself to his weekend practices.

David Pressgrove can be reached at 824-7031 or dpressgrove@craigdailypress.com

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