by Jeanie Sobieck, special to Gun Digest
Abby Votava, 17, earned Gold at the Junior Olympic Women’s Air Rifle Competition. The event took place at her home range, Olympic Training Center, Colorado Springs, CO, April 2014. The accomplishment earned her a place on the National Junior Development Team, international competition opportunities, and potential college scholarships.
Votava started recreational shooting at a young age and when a friend invited her to try air rifle at 12, she was hooked on a sport most people don't know exists. This was Abby’s fifth national competition.
Votava shoots a Walther LG-300 PCP, built in Germany. She wears a Monard, custom made in Sweden, canvas-leather jacket and pants with stabilizing flat bottom boots. This outfit gives support to her body and rifle.
The Olympic Training Center, minutes from home was helpful but not essential. Practice occurs twice a week. “Every day I'm not at the range I work on strength and conditioning at a gym or park. A strong body allows more endurance while competing. I also do holding exercises to strengthen my hold without supportive gear.”
You have to do well in a qualifier match to be eligible for National Junior Olympics. Votava placed first in the Colorado State Junior Olympics match in January. “To do well, takes practice,” says Votava. “You have to focus with a lot of people around. Small club matches helped me prepare.”
The 2014 National Junior Olympic competition consisted of men and women rifle and pistol events. Votava competed in the Women's 10 meter air rifle with 108 women.
“Shooting air rifle has really helped me see potential. Just having a great amount of determination can simply get you far.”
“Shooting is something I want to compete in during college, and for a long time after that,” says Votava. First and second place winners join the National Junior Development Team. Votava will compete in May and June in Fort Benning, Georgia. These are qualifying matches for the Junior Olympic and Open World Cup to be held in Spain in September.
Abby says, “Even the slightest motivation to shoot competitively will turn into the biggest addiction. If you want to shoot, don't wait to get started! If there isn't a shooting club near you, consider talking to friends and see what you can get started!”