August 24, 2011

Shooting for the Olympics

Mitchell Van Patten
Click on picture to watch video
Mitchell Van Patten won the sporter division of the American Legion's Junior Air Rifle National Championships on August 6 and earned a $2,500 scholarship and made another step toward his goal of the Olympics.

Mitchell, 14, has been shooting with the Meridian Optimist Junior Rifle Club for five years and has earned their sponsorship to many national level events where he has continued to place higher and higher, bettering his own personal bests. According to Bob Nelson, Vice President, Meridian Optimist Club, the Olympics are a true possibility for this young man.

Mitchell and his coach/father
Brent Van Patten
Mitchell is coached by his dad Brent Van Patten and his family accompanies him to most events. "Being his father and coach is sometimes very prideful and joyful and other times it can be frustrating. It's an interesting balance," commented Brent.

Brent acknowledges that Mitchell has lofty goals, but he is focused, works hard and has the self discipline and natural talent to reach them. Junior rifle events allow the shooters to display that self discipline and patience. On shooting, Mitchell says, "I try to tell myself to relax, and my favorite position is the one that I shoot."

The Meridian, Idaho Optimist Club began sponsoring the Junior Rifle Program in 1972 as an Explorer Post program. In 1981, the Optimist Club leased a building so the program could continue to grow. They formally adopted the program as a major club focus in 1997 and assumed the responsibility for the site, coaches, and shooters. The Meridian Junior Rifle Club is open five nights a week, October through April. They have formed a 501 (c) 3 foundation to build a larger facility, the Meridian Optimist Youth Training Center, that can offer more programs and be more open to the community than their current location allows. For more information, please visit the Meridian Optimist Club.
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