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Keith Sanderson’s Theory of Everything (...and Pistol Shooting)


By Jessica Delos Reyes Manager of Media & Public Relations


Two-time Olympian Keith


Sanderson talks like he shoots: Fast, loud, brash, but with reason. Each movement on the range or word uttered about pistol shooting is precisely calculated and engineered. There’s a rhyme and reason to everything he does – just ask him. Why is your body positioned just so? Better recoil recovery. How hard should I grip a pistol? Pretty much as hard as you can. Advice you were given when you started? Pick up gun, shoot gun, put gun down. What he jokes about lacking in smarts, he more than trumps in shooting acumen. “To learn about this


game, you need to read,” Sanderson observed. “[But] there’s a lot of wrong information out there; I was taught a lot of wrong stuff in the beginning and some of it took years to undo. In the beginning, someone will tell you something’s wrong and you’ll believe them, but then someone will tell you


it’s right - The hard part is knowing who to listen to and who not to listen to.” A voracious reader, Sand-


erson can cite passages from Competitive Shooting: Techniques and Training for Rifl e, Pistol, and Running Game Target Shooting, a Russian book by A.A. Yur’yev to Sun Tzu’s Art of War with crystalline detail, punctuat- ing the passages with the occasional curse word. Perhaps there’s no bigger student of the shooting sports (or competition, for that matter) than Sander- son, and he credits a lot of it to his teachers along the way.


“I was very lucky to have


people around me that were willing to help out and were able to articulate what they did and what they thought was best for me,” he said, noting his mentors-turned- friends: military shooting greats Mario Lozoya, Jason Meidinger and Steve Reiter to name a few. “I didn’t have a lot of talent, I wasn’t


38 USA Shooting News | May 2015


inherently good or anything, but I had a lot of people to help me get to the next stage.”


Sanderson joined the Marine Corps at 17-and- a-half, and as he pointed out, marksmanship is one of the things the Marines held in very high regard so it was important to excel. “I like objective things, things that are not subjective and shooting is absolute,” he said. “We had these differ- ent tests, academic, physi- cal fi tness, swim qualifi ca- tion, and I wanted to be the best. In the academic tests, it was easy to be perfect. Physical fi tness, well, I was good at it, but I was at a genetic disadvantage to be really good at it. Shooting – I can do this. I can be better at this. I was in California at the time and one day I achieved the base high of 244 of 250 in rifl e and I was pretty happy with that. There are all these dudes who are like ‘We’re on the base shooting team’ and


they were going to matches; I was like ‘I want to be bet- ter than you all.’ Eventually I went to Camp Pendleton for these division matches and I shot rifl e and pistol, and with pistol, I was terrible. It was one-handed and I was just terrible. Rifl e, I was good.”


Soon he made the base


team in 1995 and was one point out of the top 10 percent in rifl e – the top 10 percent were invited to the Marine Corps Champion- ships.


“I remember thinking


‘Everyone here is good at rifl e, but very few people are good at pistol and I really, really suck at pistol,’ [but] if I put forth some effort in pistol, I could be really good,” he said. “When I started shooting


my fi rst year of Conventional Pistol, I came up with a question that I thought was brilliant that I would ask all the top shooters: ‘If you could go back to your fi rst year, what would you tell


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