Q&A With Air Rifle Shooter Mary Tucker

Todays News

Photo courtesy of USA Shooting

It’s triumphant enough to have one local—formerly, or currently—go to the Olympics to represent Team USA. But to have four? Four outstanding athletes that hold roots to the (941) that are heading to Tokyo to make their mark on history? Now that’s impressive, medal coming home or not. From Women’s Swimming and Women’s Air Rifle to Men’s Rowing and Men’s Street Skateboarding, we'll be celebrating the young talented squad of Sarasotans that have qualified in their respective sport and whom we await excitedly to watch on our televisions this weekend as the Olympics kick-off and air worldwide.

While you may have read/seen local news stories of their victories, we're rolling out daily personal, candid Q&A style interviews—based on the famous Proust Questionnaire. Before putting on your red, white and blue outfits to cheer them on through the screen, get to know each of the athletes beyond their sport and what they're most looking forward to competing in the Games. Queue the flame. 

Mary Tucker

Age: 20

Hometown: Sarasota, FL

Current City: Lexington, KY

Current Titles: NCAA individual airgun, individual Smallbore, individual overall, and team National Champion. First Olympic team member airgun and Smallbore (out of two, won both qualifiers). 6x World Cup finalist, 3x World Cup medalist. World rank #2 in airgun, #11 in Smallbore.

Competing Olympic Sport: Women’s Air Rifle, Air Rifle mixed team, Women’s Smallbore Rifle

Share a brief description of a recent day in the life. Right now, since it is summer and I am not on campus, I usually get up around 8:00 or 9:00 am, have a quick breakfast and drive to the range. Once I’m at the range, I will go to whichever gun I am shooting first and set it all up. I don’t really have a warm-up other than some quick balance board work, so then I shoot for however many hours (usually 3 or 4) before lunch. After lunch, I typically switch to the other gun and will do that for another 3 or 4 hours before packing up and heading back to wherever I’m staying. I also go to the gym Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Training for shooting is hard since there are only three facilities in the US, so where I am is never really set but that is the general routine.

What are you most excited about going to the Olympics/representing Team USA? I am excited for the atmosphere the most, and getting to check another country off. I have heard a lot about how fun the Games are, and I look forward to seeing a lot of friends from other countries.

Your favorite motto. . .'Prove them wrong.' There are always doubters, especially when you are young/inexperienced and in a sport people don't fully understand. 

When you were younger you always dreamed of growing up to be . . . Being a veterinarian was something I thought I was going to be for a very long time, but I am too invested in shooting to ever leave it, so now I just live with a vet student.

What was the funniest thing you remember doing as a kid? My mom said when I was little I would always rub my hands together like I was plotting something evil, I think that’s pretty funny.

What is the scariest thing you have ever done? Shot a 600 in airgun. It really isn’t a huge deal, but because I had shot so many 599s in the past, I was extremely nervous for it. I did it, but I was shaking so bad.

Your favorite snacks of the moment are . . . I have a minor obsession with Haribo gummies right now, especially the little colas and the fruit ones. I like them so much that when at World Cups other countries will bring me Haribos that are specific to their countries so I can try them. 10/10

You have to wear a T-shirt with one word on it, what would it be? Breathe. Things move fast and everything can be really stressful, I have to remind myself a lot to just let things happen and focus on myself. In shooting, breathing is a big thing to pay attention to, also.

What song best describes your life right now? As someone who can never remember songs, this is a hard question, but one song that I really like and makes me happy is “Live a Little” by Chaz Cardigan.

What achievement/goal do you have set for yourself in the next 5 years? 10 years? My main goal is to be the best there ever was in this sport. We have a lot of American legends and I want to be one of them.

If you could snap your fingers and appear somewhere else, where would you be? Right now, probably with my best friend. She lives in another country, so I only ever get to see her at World Cups.

Where you most like to live . . . I don’t think I will end up living in one place, I really enjoy traveling and would prefer to be on the move. I have noticed that I thrive when I am always in new places. 

On the plane, you’ll be. . . Sleeping, no doubt. 

What are you most excited to see or try whilst in Tokyo? I always love going downtown in other countries, just because it is so different from the states. I am not sure how it will look with Covid, but I hope to at least see a little bit of it.

What is your most memorable or cherished moment whilst competing? My first European match, I was in the final in airgun and we had gotten down to the gold and silver medals with one shot left. We have 50 sec to take a shot and I usually am slow, so right when I was about to pull the trigger the other girl shot and the crowd gasped so loud that I didn't take the shot. I wasn’t aiming at the target and glanced at the clock that said 10sec, I had to take that shot so fast and I have no idea how it was a 10 but it was definitely the most nerve-wracking shot I've ever taken. I think I ended up getting silver by only .1, it was crazy.

Which sport in the Olympics are you most excited to go watch as a spectator? I think the new sports will be very cool to go watch. If there are new sports at the Games, you have to go see them since it's their debut. 

If you weren’t an Olympian in your own sport, what other sport would you love to represent/compete in the Summer Olympics? Probably equestrian. I have ridden horses my whole life and while I was never very good, I still want to go for it.

Which country are you most intimated by in your sport?  I am not intimidated by anyone specifically, but I do think it’s interesting to be in a sport that isn’t dominated by the US. This past quad India, China, Hungary, and Russia have had a lot of really good performances, so it will be cool to see them there.

Where will your winning medal(s) hang when you get back? I have a teammate at school who makes really cool racks and things out of wood. I asked him to make something to put them in and I'm excited to see what he thinks of.

Tune in on Friday, July 23 at 9:45pm EDT to watch Mary Tucker compete in Women's Air Rifle Final. 

Photo courtesy of USA Shooting

Full Olympics Shooting Schedule found here.

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