Zeroed in: USAFA sharpshooter doesn't recoil from competition

  • Published
  • By Amber Baillie
  • Academy Spirit staff writer
When it comes to air rifle competition, one Academy cadet is of a vastly different caliber.
After competing in the 2014 Bavarian Airgun Championships in Munich, Germany earlier this year and finishing 26th in the world, Cadet 2nd Class Meredith Carpentier has become the United States' top shooter in women's 10m air rifle and will represent the country at the World Cup USA at Fort Benning, Ga., in March.

Carpentier, a biology major here and member of the USA Shooting Team, said the mental focus and self-control required in the sport directly translates to the stressful situations officers will face during their career.

"Once you get past the physical mechanics of marksmanship, the rest of your barriers will come from within your own head," she said. "The most difficult part of the sport is discipline."
The sharp shooter, from Waukegan, Ill., said she first learned to shoot competitively during her freshman year in high school.

"I've been fortunate to have been coached by the best, both in high school and at the Academy," Carpentier said. "For me to pass by an opportunity such as the USA Shooting Team would be an incredible dishonor to the time and effort the Academy has invested in developing me as a shooter. I intend to take my skill as far as I can, whether to the Olympics or simply through my time here."

Carpentier earned three gold and two bronze medals in December during the Winter Airgun Championships, qualifying her for the Munich championships. She earned the highest score in the women's collegiate air rifle match.

"She came out of that match with more medals than anyone, and qualified to go to Munich to shoot against the best shooters in the world," said Launi Meili, the Academy's rifle coach.
Carpentier competed against 87 international competitors in Munich. Four other women from the USA Shooting Team also participated and Carpentier was the top U.S. finisher.
"Carpentier represented the Academy and the U.S. well," Meili said. "This was her first international match and her first experience to feel what it is like to represent her country."

Meili said Carpentier is developing the mental stamina and toughness needed to perform when the world is watching.

"You can be a great shooter in practice, but getting the job done on match day when it counts takes someone who thrives under pressure," Meili said. "All of this will help Meredith be a stronger officer and handle the pressures that come along with that service."

During a competition, shooters must be able to fine-tune their focus, manage their nerves, and keep calm no matter the circumstances, Meili said.

"Those are characteristics you want to have when facing any challenging and stressful situation," she said. "We train for those every day and I believe they support a strong warrior ethos."
Goals that involve purely numbers only take you so far, Carpentier said. "I want to continue to gain exposure at these high intensity matches so that I have experience to bring back for the team," she said. "I want to get better at what I do every day and I want to see our team continue to do great in NCAAs."

There are important competitions Carpentier will be participating in, all of which will hopefully prepare her to make the 2014 World Championship team, Meili said.

"Meredith will continue to lead the team next year in her senior year," Meili said. "My hope for her is that she'll continue to take her talent to the international stage and make the next world and Olympic teams. She absolutely has the capability, desire, and mental toughness to get it done."