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Balsley won gold at the Pan American Games, as well as an Olympic quota for the United States. The gold-medal win was his fi rst in Rapid Fire Pistol.

a super-t-tense atmosphere. The whole thing about

Olympic quotas and medals never even popped in my mind until the very end. I remember what I was

focused on after my last series was “[The Brazilian] can still tie me so get ready for a tiebreaker.” That’s the best he could do was tie me. I was still going through my systems, getting ready to shoot again until I saw KH À QLVKHG RQH RU WZR KLWV back and it was like “Finally, I can relax now!”

What are the biggest dif- ferences between action shooting and Rapid Fire Pistol?

It’s a complete 180. The only thing that’s really similar is multiple targets and movement. In action, you can get away with errors and it doesn’t really hurt you, but in this game, when you lose a point, you lose a point. You can’t get that point back. In action, you can gain and lose points on various stages, depending on how you shoot it. In this game, you can’t get away with sloppiness.

Tell us about winning gold at the Pan American Games last summer. To be honest, I don’t re- ally remember a lot about it! When I start to think “I’m in the zone” is when I get out

of the zone so maybe it’s a good thing - hey, I guess it worked out! I do remember I wasn’t too happy with my À UVW KDOI RI WKH PDWFK , didn’t perform anywhere near where I expected my- self to be or how I normally perform so I was pretty up- set. After it was all said and done, I forgot how I found out I made the Final. I was thinking “You kidding me? How did I just make the Fi- nal with this score?” Coach sent me to talk to our sports psychologist Sean McCann before the Final. When I talked to him, he put things in perspective, calmed me GRZQ DQG KHOSHG PH À QG D new way to see things. And ZKDWHYHU KH GLG GHÀ QLWHO\ worked because in the Fi- nal, Emil [Milev] and I were smiling – we were still seri- ous and all – but it wasn’t

44 USA Shooting News | March 2016

What are you working on now? I feel like my funda- mentals are solid, but I’m still working on the mental aspect of the game. You have to keep working on it all the time. Especially in Rapid Fire, with so much down time, your mind can come up with so many scenarios of what can hap- pen, what can’t happen, what you’re going to eat for dinner tomorrow - whatever. It’s recognizing those and getting them out of your head so you stay on the task of what you are doing. Got to work on not letting the mind wander off so much. Rapid Fire feels like it takes forever. It takes a lot to not want to make yourself speed up because when it feels like you’re taking for- ever, it pretty much means you’re on par. But then you get that voice in the back of your head that tells you to

speed up, and that’s a bad thing.

Right now I’ve got the best training partners I could ask for. I’ve got [Leu- ris] Pupo, who won gold at the 2012 Olympic Games, Emil, who won a medal at the 1996 Games, and then I’ve got Keith Sanderson. Each one has so much I can learn from them.

What do you think you need to do to win the sec- ond Olympic Team slot? Beat Emil right now, in

simple terms. He’s just got so much experience. We’re competitors, we’re friends - I’m even hoping to get some training in with him before Trials. I can learn a lot from KLP , WKLQN KH VKRW KLV À UVW international match the year I was born! I try to emulate how he shoots more than anyone else. He’s done it so many times and he’s still so Á XLG LQ ZKDW KH GRHV :KHQ he shoots four seconds, it looks like he’s taking forever; he’s so smooth and Á XLG +H·V IXOO RI D ORW RI advice and when you watch him shoot – when he’s on his game, he’s on his game. Luckily for me, he’s more than willing to help out and share his expertise. He’s a good guy and in case I don’t make the Team, I’d be upset and what not, but I’d be glad it could be him.

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