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Athlete to Watch: Dempster Christenson What’s that saying – If it was

easy, everyone would do it? For Dempster Christenson – he does it because it isn’t. “I’ve always been one of those people who likes a chal- lenge,” he said. “I was good at a lot of things growing up, but of course I didn’t choose one of those to be good at – that would be too easy.” It’s why the 23-year-old with the self-deprecating wit graduat- ed from the University of Nevada with two degrees toward being a veterinarian, wanting to work alone in a lab. It’s why he was good at kicking a ball and shoot- ing hoops, but didn’t take up soccer or basketball. Or it’s why he plays the French horn. It’s the same tenacity that also got him to where he is now – a resident athlete at the Olympic Training Center and a silver-medal win- ner in 10m Air Rifl e at World Cup USA earlier this year.

“That match was a lot more

fun than they had been in the past,” he said about his fi nal at World Cup USA. “It’s much more exhilarating when there’s some- thing on the line. Some of these matches, it feels like you just win or lose – of course you try your best – but then you just go back to the drawing board.” Christenson (Sioux Falls, S.D.) fully acknowledges he picked up the sport a lot later than his competitors. He tried it out when he was 12 years old in 4-H, but didn’t do too much with it at that point. Later his father would take him hunting just to observe, but then he would take some hunt- ers’ safety courses, and as he got better, moved up within the ranks of 4-H shooting programs. “I wasn’t really interested in the hunting aspect, but I did get better shooting through it and in 4-H, I guess they just saw some- thing in me,” he said.

He wouldn’t start shooting precision until age 16 when he went to a Civilian Marksmanship Program camp in Fort Benning, Ga. – the same place he won his World Cup medal. He won the camp match and was just a few points behind the winner of all of the camp matches. Chris- tenson would then go on to win the Air Rifl e event at the Junior Olympics – his second match, and from there, go to the Shoot- ing Hopes match in Pilsen, Czech Republic. He would do the same thing again the next year, but this time found himself in the fi nal for Three-Position Rifl e in Pilsen. “I defi nitely wasn’t as good as some of the people shooting beside me,” he said. Christenson did not get re-

cruited or receive a scholarship to shoot his fi rst year of college. After winning the American Le- gion match, he gave a speech in Reno, Nev. about the importance

of supporting the shooting sports and toured the University of Ne- vada where he would meet with the coach and turns out, found the right fi t for college: A coach he felt was grounded, a smaller campus and a developing rifl e program.

SZCZECIN, POL “The shooters weren’t neces-

sarily ‘the best’ – so we wouldn’t have to constantly look at what each other was doing,” he said. “I could just focus on what I need- ed to do.”

Leading into Rio in 2016, Christenson is still doing just that. He moved to the Olympic Training Center in January of this year.

“I wanted to get here as soon

as I got out of college,” he said. “Now I’m practicing as much as I can, making sure my positions are solid and repeatable and making sure every shot is better than the last one.”

Year in Review 2013 | USA Shooting News


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