Mary Tucker is a freshman at the University of Kentucky and, given her age, perhaps it isn’t surprising that when she was growing up and wanted to learn more about air rifle and how to improve her performance, she turned to YouTube.
The 18-year-old is now likely to be one of the shooters that other up-and-comers will search for and watch when they want to learn how to become an Olympian.
Tucker won the U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Air Rifle on Sunday, completing a two-part process that began back in December and has now landed her one of two coveted spots on this summer’s U.S. team that will compete at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. Joining her is Ali Weisz, who will also be making her Olympic debut in Tokyo. Sarah Beard and Sagen Maddalena are the first and second alternates.
Lucas Kozeniesky and Will Shaner qualified in men’s air rifle earlier in the day.
Tucker came out of the first stage of the trials with 1256.4 points and the lead over the entire field, which included 2016 Olympic gold medalist Ginny Thrasher. Weisz was in second place after the first stage of qualifying and while she finished sixth in Sunday’s final, her performances in December and in Saturday’s competition was enough to give her second overall.
Tucker picked up shooting in high school but ultimately left her Sarasota Military Academy team in favor of learning on her own by practicing in the family’s garage, watching videos and reading articles to hone her skills. Also involved in equestrian in high school, she was recruited for her shooting skills and chose Kentucky for not only the rifle program but also for the chance to major in equine science.
Weisz, 24, is not long out of undergraduate studies herself. A product of the University of Mississippi, Weisz is currently a graduate assistant coach at the University of Memphis.
Despite growing up in Belgrade, Montana, Weisz said her family wasn’t into guns or shooting. She first learned to shoot at the age of 9 when her parents let her enroll in a gun safety and education program primarily so that she’d know how to behave around firearms should the situation ever arise.
Suffice it to say she learned to handle herself quite well.
Weisz won silver at the 2018 Championship of the Americas before claiming gold at the Pan American Games Lima 2019.