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Q& A

Rapid Fire Pistol shooter Brad Balsley talks a lot. Find him at any match and you’ll see him chatting and laugh- ing with pretty much every- RQH D UDUH VRFLDO EXWWHUÁ \ in such a solitary sport. His friendly, mild manner stands in stark contrast to his loud, fast event. Ask him to talk about himself, however, DQG KH FDQ·W À QG WKH ZRUGV Balsley hopes his hard work and growing success can do the talking. Take for

example, the

place where he keeps his Pan Am gold medal. Balsley (Uniontown, Pennsylvania/ U.S. Army Marksmanship 8QLW ZRQ KLV À UVW LQWHUQD tional gold medal at the 2015 Pan American Games after qualifying last for the Final. Eventually he would go on to beat the 2012 Olympic Games gold medal- ist and his far more-experi- enced teammate. Balsley’s win would even secure the U.S. a second Olympic quo- ta in Rapid Fire Pistol. That medal lives in a holey sock in his sock drawer. What he intends to mount

on his wall instead? A shot- out barrel. After sending more than 70,000 rounds downrange, the USAMU gunsmith had to replace the barrel on his competition gun because it was chang- ing the velocity of his ammo. “I’d put that in a shad-

owbox,” he said. “I’m pretty proud of that. That’s hard to do.”

How’d you get started in shooting? $FWXDOO\ P\ À UVW FRPSHWL

tion I shot was kind of a Á XNH ,W ZDV D ERZOLQJ SLQ match, I was 10 years old and I was just along with my dad at the range. We’re sitting at the lunch area and I’m begging my dad to let me shoot this little match they had coming up - a shootoff, you win money, it was a last-man- standing kind of thing. My dad didn’t want to let me shoot and there was a $10 entry fee so this couple we’ve known forever threw in a dollar for my entry fee. Then nine other people threw in a buck then he was like “Okay, I guess I’ll let you shoot.” I shot it and ended up winning the thing! I won 90 bucks, and when you’re 10, that’s like you’re a billionaire. Dad was like “I guess I’ve got to let you

shoot now!” Things just kind of happened from there. My dad has been com-

peting since before I was born. When I was a kid, I’d go with him to the range. I started out with the bowling pin shooting – it used to be really big; pretty much died off around 1998. After that I got into IPSC – the action shooting, three-gun stuff. Later on in high school,

I was interested in joining one of the military services — whether it was [the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit] or not — and I got a call from my team leader who talked to me about trying out for the international team. I was like “What the heck is that?” and he explained Rapid Fire to me. Coming over to Rapid Fire, it was like starting over at ground zero. Do I really want to do this? I was kind of at the stage where it was

either school or something and shooting was going to go by the wayside and I wanted to continue with it one way or another.

You’ve played baseball, basketball, ran cross coun- try – why shooting? I just like it! I have met some of the best people through shooting. I have friends everywhere; they’re all decent people from all different walks of life. I’ve just always had a good experience with the people in this sport. On top of that, I really like the competition part. It’s very relaxing, hon- estly. Whenever I’ve shot, I’ve had to focus enough that whatever problems I’ve had just didn’t exist on the range.

Brad Balsley Rapid Fire Pistol

March 2016 | USA Shooting News 43

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