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It’s pistol shooting – it’s the same stuff.” Eventually he did make those scores and went to the Olympic Trials for Free Pistol. Two weeks prior to the match, he bought a Free Pistol off of a friend and placed second in the match. “But then right after that, I went back and started shooting .45s for Camp Perry. That was real to me. The Olympics – they were some imaginary thing to me on a Wheaties box; it wasn’t real to me yet. Didn’t become real to me until I was there [the Olympics], but Camp Perry was real. I kept doing Free Pistol on the side and kept improving at a linear rate.” While his scores had increased, so had his competitors’, and he had fallen to fourth place overall. Sanderson also left the Marines to join the Army Reserves in 2001 where he shot on the Army Reserves team with shooting greats Reiter, Ruby Fox, Doc Young and Mel Makin. It wasn’t un-


til 2004 that he would start shooting Rapid Fire Pistol. “The last American to get a medal in Rapid Fire was Bill McMillan from the Ma- rine Corps team in the 1960 Olympic Games, so I was aware of the sport, but ev- eryone told me it’s too hard, it takes 10 years to get where you can even do any- thing minimal and I didn’t have a gun to shoot it,” he said. “I won Nationals a week or two after I picked it up in 2004 and the rules were about to change. We didn’t have a quota for Rapid Fire and there were a lot more people shooting it in America back then. I was shooting .22 long rifle - I was shooting within the new rules - not the old ones since I didn’t have a .22 short. I had a bulls eye gun so I shot that and I shot it well. I already had a founda- tion so I guess it proved my goal of having that theory of pistol shooting that works for everything. A 583 today is world-class score and I


was able to get that after a few weeks. Not because I’m great or anything, but because of the technique, the fundamentals of marks- manship. I’m really not that good.”


Back then he says he


wasn’t considered a Rapid Fire shooter – he was the Free Pistol National Champi- on. That didn’t change until he qualified for the Finals at the 2006 World Champion- ships in Rapid Fire. “’You almost medaled in Rapid Fire, you’re a Rapid Fire Pistol shooter now,’ the coaches would tell me. I didn’t think much of it. I shot World Cups in 2007 in Rapid Fire, medaled in Pan Ams, didn’t make the Final in every World Cup but was I making them more often.” At the World Cup in Munich in 2007, he earned an Olympic quota and would eventually go on to com- pete in the 2008 Olympic Games. There he entered the Finals in first place with the highest score in Qualifi-


cation. “That Final was still


better than anyone else in America had shot at Olympic Trials so it wasn’t like I totally screwed up,” he said. “I didn’t perform at an Olympic gold-medal level. I didn’t perform at an Olympic-medal level. It wasn’t a great performance. I think I’ve just started to realize the mistakes I’ve made; I’ve realized I need to be scared to shoot well. It’s not a confidence thing, it’s the opposite of that. I need to not be confident. I need to be scared. I feed off of the pressure and I shoot better with the pressure. In Qualification, I was petrified. Before the Final, I spent three or four hours trying to calm myself down and having everyone else on the U.S. team trying to help me calm down and I calmed down too much.” He and National Pistol Coach Ser- gey Luzov had also miscal- culated whether a second warmup would be neces-


Sanderson competing in the 2012Olympic Games.


May 2015 | USA Shooting News


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