At 19, I won the very first gold medal of the 2016 Olympic Games! I was a freshman in college at WVU and it changed my life forever. Now, I am a full time professional athlete at the Olympic Training Center in COS. My job includes training, traveling, and competing to the best of my abilities to represent the U.S. It also includes advocating for and educating about my niche sport, Olympic Rifle Shooting, which is why I am here today. Ask Me Anything!

P.S. I post a lot of fun videos about the shooting sports on my social media, please follow me on every platform @GinnyThrasher ! If you want to support my athletic journey, you can also join my Patreon Fan Club (Patreon.com/TeamThrasher)

Proof: Here's my proof!

Edit: Thanks so much for joining me and all the great questions! I couldn't get to all of them, but feel free to message me on IG if you have more questions - @GinnyThrasher . I hope you now know more and are more interested in Olympic Rifle Shooting. Whether as a fan or competitor, we would love to have you :)

Comments: 511 • Responses: 32  • Date: 

decoy321473 karma

What was it like growing up with such a badass name?

GinnyThrasher711 karma

Pretty awesome actually - except when people would say "Trasher" instead lol. I was voted the 8th coolest name in the Rio Olympics!

ErikTheAngry346 karma

As someone who greatly enjoys rifle shooting, I've always struggled with unsteady hands... doesn't really diminish my enjoyment, but it certainly does impair my accuracy at longer ranges (400+), even when I'm shooting on a bench.

What's your favourite tip for freehand accuracy?

GinnyThrasher593 karma

It's a very annoying answer but the best way to get better is practice! But not just throwing shots down range - deliberate, high intensity practice. I'd recommend the books Bullseye Mind by Raymond Prior and The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle :)

tore_a_bore_a324 karma

What's the preparation like to remove shaky hands? I would guess skipping caffeine and getting enough sleep are two things.

GinnyThrasher545 karma

I don't drink any caffeine or eat added sugar. I also find breath control helps but honestly shaky hands aren't a problem I deal with. It's mostly genetic!

yaannooz311 karma

Why aren’t you a professional skateboarder?

GinnyThrasher1024 karma

If anyone has a contact at Thrasher Magazine... I would love to do an article where I teach Tony Hawk to shoot and he teaches me to skateboard

hovedrael249 karma

What's up with the leather outfits you guys wear?

GinnyThrasher471 karma

Kind of like cleats in track and field, they serve a variety of uses including injury prevention, stabilization, and allowing us to shoot for longer. They also have various accessories on them like a "sling keep" which attaches the sling used in prone and kneeling. They are tested very strictly for thickness, stiffness, and overlap at competitions to make sure no one has a performance advantage over anyone else!

AnonAqueous235 karma

How often do you get know-nothing Fudds trying to correct your shooting form or "help" you with it?

GinnyThrasher369 karma

In person, almost never. On the internet, all the time unfortunately. People don't understand that different types of shooting require different techniques!

Metalhart00177 karma

Who is your favorite Pokemon?

GinnyThrasher376 karma

Squirtle

Mydogsmyfavoritehero167 karma

What's the best tips for rifle shooting? Particularly for beginners and or people who are looking into the sport.

GinnyThrasher270 karma

1) Love the sport, not just the outcomes of the sport

2) Find a good coach / club / team (I have a list of Olympic style clubs on my IG under story highlight "States")

3) Practice more, practice better

4) Improve your rifle IQ (books, camps, subscribe to Ginny's Patreon videos??)

speakingthekings4163 karma

How did you get involved with rifle shooting?

GinnyThrasher341 karma

My grandpa would always take my dad and brothers hunting. I wanted to be like them so I asked to go hunting too. He was over the moon! I didn't really like hunting, but I enjoyed pulling the trigger. The next year I joined my high school's varsity air rifle team and took off from there! West Springfield HS in NoVA

lioemases159 karma

What's it like being at the top of a niche sport? Stars in popular sports like basketball or football rake in millions of dollars in sponsorships and salaries but I imagine that careers in rifle shooting are more limited.

GinnyThrasher342 karma

It's very interesting actually, I am very famous to a very niche group of people (and the state of West Virginia). I have received a lot of amazing opportunities but not a lot of money compared to the big 5 sports (swimming, gymnastics, etc.). I have the freedom to do what I want relatively anonymously, but also a large social media following where I can promote and grow my sport. I have no desire to be any more famous lol, but being rich would be great!

renegader33287 karma

What's the motivation for some shooters to go through OTC vs AMU? We would drive down to Georgia for Club Rifle Championships and the AMU guys were rather pushy about pursuing shooting as a career with them vs other orgs.

GinnyThrasher202 karma

The Army Marksmanship Unit (AMU) and being a resident at the Olympic and Paralympic Training Center (OPTC) are very different post college career paths with pros and cons. In the AMU, you have a lot of resources including equipment, a salary, etc. In exchange, you are enlisted in the army. This means various army obligations, basic training, having to live near Ft. Benning, etc. At the OPTC, you often have less financial security / pay, including potentially having to pay out of pocket for health care and equipment. Every single resident at the OPTC has an additional source of income like private coaching, social media, etc. But you also have more freedom in which matches you go to, your training plans, how you spend your hours, etc. I often say that the AMU is a career and the OPTC is a transition period (you get free room and board and can be quite successful, but eventually you will move on to another job). Both have high expectations to performance and you can be very successful in either, I think it's about finding the right personality fit. I personally value my freedom and think I would struggle being enlisted in the army!

BelgarathTheSorcerer68 karma

Have you ever considered training for the biathlon? Curious if you crosstrain in any way, really; biathlon, hunting, and other forms of marksmanship come to mind.

GinnyThrasher187 karma

Biathlon is a completely different skill set that requires a different body type (tall with a cardiovascular base). It is more heavily weighted towards skiing, typically it is cross country skiers who are taught how to shoot! I personally have no interest in being cold and lying in the snow exhausted :)

I shoot other disciplines for fun and socially, not to cross train. I cross train in the weight room, with pilates, and ice skating

Celebration200065 karma

Do you have a favourite rifle brand and model, both for competition and personal use (if different)?

GinnyThrasher100 karma

I am a Feinwerkbau loyalist for air rifle. I started with the P70 in high school, then the 700, 800, and am getting the brand new 900 in a few weeks! For my smallbore I shoot a Bleiker, they are like the Ferrari's of rifle!

The_Stratman60 karma

Hi Ginny I used to shoot air rifle in NOVA and worked with Bucky when he helped start my schools program. I just wanted to issue my condolences since he passed away a few years back. I do have a question though. How did you juggle getting your shooting materials to practice from high school due to the rules at FCPS?

GinnyThrasher52 karma

Thank you, I miss Bucky every day. He had such an impact on me and hundreds of other kids in NoVA. Every time I return back and see the range thriving I think of him!

GossetBeer49 karma

Hey! Saw you a couple times at Downtown campus during my exchange at WVU in 2016. My question is, what was your favorite restaurant in Motown? 😄

GinnyThrasher64 karma

Pies and pints for sure. Also Ogawa for lunch and Oliverio's!

101DarkKnight47 karma

First of all, congrats! That’s absolutely awesome and must be countless hours of work so just super impressive all around!

What was the path to make it to the Olympics like? Did you become good enough and get the big committee’s attention and then go that direction or did you have your sights set on the Olympics the whole time during training and proactively seek them out?

GinnyThrasher135 karma

One of the coolest parts about Olympic sports in America is they have to use a trials system that is open to anyone to compete! This is good because it allows for the underdog / Cinderella story / American dream to happen, not pushing out the up and comers so that it's impossible to break in.

When I was a freshman in college I won NCAAs becoming the youngest person to ever do so. A few weeks later I went to Olympic trials mostly to gain experience for the next quad. There were two Olympians already in the field and I was probably ranked about 5th going in (this was one year after my first international match). I ended up winning the match and qualifying for the Olympics! I spent the summer training, competing around the world, under the tutelage of the best coaches in the country. I went into the Olympics as the total underdog and won quite unexpectedly (to the rest of the world. Me, my family, my coach, and my sports psych all knew it was possible :) )

swagharris3133 karma

Funny thing, I probably couldn't tell you anything about what else happened at the 2016 Olympics, but for some reason I never forgot who won the first medal during it lol. Why didn't you participate in the 2020 Olympics(well 2021)? And are participating next year in Paris?

GinnyThrasher65 karma

Thank you! I was the alternate in Tokyo - not the position I wanted to be but Covid threw quite a wrench into the trials system. I am currently on the Path to Paris and will participate in Olympic trials next year where I will do everything in my power to qualify for one of the two positions

Current_Doctor32 karma

How do you feel about current gun laws in the US?

GinnyThrasher220 karma

I typically don't talk about my politic beliefs in public because it often takes away from the fact that the shooting sports are sports and I am an athlete not a politician. That being said, I have had several interesting experiences with politics over the last 10 years, including both parties trying (unsuccessfully) to make me a figurehead after the 2016 Olympics.

I have traveled to a lot of other countries and seen their gun laws and also how they impact the sport. On one hand, stricter gun laws make it more difficult to do the sport. Especially in a place like Japan where the number of .22 gun licenses is very limited and age restricted. But in places like Germany, because air and .22 are the only disciplines available for someone who is interested in shooting they are quite popular. In America where there are many many options of different guns, calibers, and disciplines it almost spreads out our talent too much, although everyone can find a style of shooting they enjoy!

I think it is a nuanced conversation including the different types of gun cultures, the rate of technological advancement vs. legislation, mental health resources, and education. This makes it a very challenging and involved problem in the US that I am not qualified to speak on. Although I have experience and opinions on gun laws, I am not a policy maker and don't plan to instill myself in policy in any way. I am thankful however for all the experiences I have had around firearms and due to firearms, that I would not have had in every country.

MickCollins31 karma

What do you feel is the best way to interest young women in rifle shooting?

GinnyThrasher56 karma

I think if more people understood that (for the most part) it's a lot easier to be a young woman in rifle shooting than a young man, it would become more normal for females to want to do it! The shooting community is so friendly and the personal growth to be gained from shooting can't be understated!

Also, to get more young women in shooting we need to just get more young people in shooting. More ranges, teams, accessibility, funding, spectators, etc will help everyone!

TheChairmann30 karma

Do you think men and women should be segregated in competitive shooting? I'm curious as to why it was segregated in the first place, since shooting relies on skill instead of physical strength.

Following on from that, how well do you think you would do in a mixed competition?

GinnyThrasher114 karma

I do believe shooting should continue to be gender separate. There is a physical strength component to it, but more importantly there is a different timeline of when men and women peak in their career. Just like in other sports, there are different age divisions and putting a U18 girl against a U18 guy would be unfair (for the guy, who would get crushed). In the NCAA it is gender mixed and what typically happens is the women dominate the top 8 spots.

The story of why it's gender mixed is interesting though... it used to be mixed but only men really competed. A woman by the name of Margaret Murdock won a medal in the Olympics and soon after it was gender separated!

And the most obvious reason: gender separation means more events means more medals for shooting, increasing the popularity and general health of the sport!

original_greaser_bob30 karma

ever wonder how your target shooting skills would translate to shooting from say, horseback or from a moving steam locomotive or from a stage coach or from a steam punk hot air ballon or a dirigible or roller skates?

GinnyThrasher49 karma

I went on an episode of Ultimate Marksman on the History Channel to see how my skills would relate, not as crazy as from horseback but we did shoot through flames and spinning wheels!

h3llofaRide26 karma

What do you see being your next chapter in life? After athletics.

GinnyThrasher54 karma

That's a good question... I am normally a planner but am working on staying more in the present when it comes to next chapters. I could be shooting for 1 more year or 10 or anywhere in between. So it's hard to know what life will look like when I retire! I do think I would enjoy coaching at some level, or I could use my biomedical engineering degree after all! I do have a goal to write a book too.

funkin_d26 karma

Do you breathe in or out?

GinnyThrasher54 karma

Out! Prone and kneeling I approach the target from the bottom while in standing it's from the top

samwisethegay0725 karma

How has all your success and hard work (congrats btw) negatively affected your life?

GinnyThrasher72 karma

I went through a really hard time right after the 2016 Olympics. My identity as the underdog turned into a reality of suffocating expectation and scrutiny, mixed with strange new feelings about my sport. This is unfortunately very common for Olympic athletes, known as post Olympic depression. I now understand why I was feeling that way and, with the help of my awesome support system, am through that time. Now my relationship with my sport is very much like a marriage, I choose it every day (sometimes at the expense of other things) and most days it chooses me back!

Somethingpretty00725 karma

Do you experience any sexism within Olympics?

GinnyThrasher94 karma

Yes and no, a lot of people think it's really cool that I am a high achieving female in a "male dominated sport". (Although females are typically better, especially at the beginning in the sport). But if you ever want to see rampant and ignorant sexism just go check out the comments section in any of my viral tiktoks lol

culturaldiversity25 karma

How's your shot vs. opportunity ratio when compared to Eminem?

GinnyThrasher32 karma

60 shots : at least 100 opportunities! (Opportunities to earn a college scholarship, travel the world, make life long friends, shoot 60 tens, etc!)

ahsokatango24 karma

Wow, you’re living the dream! Were you able to finish your degree at WVU? It sounds like you had a lot of other amazing things happening in your life at that time.

GinnyThrasher55 karma

Yes I am! I graduated summa cum laude with my degree in biomedical engr in 2019 :) It was a hard balance for time management for sure, my professors were very supportive

cuxdelux23 karma

How does the medal taste?

GinnyThrasher65 karma

Germs

Schneiderman22 karma

What's the first rifle you ever shot? Do you still have it? Regardless, congratulations and thank you for supporting the sport.

GinnyThrasher41 karma

I first shot my great grandfather's bolt action .22 when I was 8. My dad currently owns it but I assume one day that I will inherit it because it's so meaningful

Ingram252520 karma

What's your favorite snack?

GinnyThrasher23 karma

Fuel for Fire while competing (tropical is the best flavor)

bennn3010 karma

Hello, do you have a favorite cereal?

GinnyThrasher29 karma

If Wheaties put me on a box it'd be them... but for now it's Lucky Charms

renegader3323 karma

I already asked a question but I did have another: is there such a thing as too much SCATT or is it a decent substitute for daily practice? I've been thinking of setting up a SCATT system at home but I want to make sure that it won't form bad habits.

ozamataz_buckshank15 karma

First of all as a disclaimer, I've sadly been out of the sport for the past 10 years so my tips may be outdated. However, back in the day I was on a top 3 NCAA team and spent many years competing at the national level and occasionally making the finals. I was not (obviously) at the level Ginny was, however I did have the pleasure of knowing and training/competing with almost all of the Olympic and National Team members in the 2000-2012 era.

In my opinion SCATT's main benefit is as a feedback tool for your analyzing the size and shape of your "hold" and consistency of your approach. One of the things I would analyze specifically is the consistency of how you approach the target. Is your approach coming in straight from the top (or bottom if prone/kneeling)? Is it consistent for EVERY shot? An approach coming in from angle may be a sign your NPA is off. If your consistency starts to worsen over time it may indicate your position is shifting or settling, possibly introducing muscle tension as the session goes on. Not saying it can only be this or that...but this line of thinking is an example of how you can use the unique feedback from the SCATT.

There's a book called "Ways of the Rifle" from 2009 that had a section on training with a SCATT system. They included a picture of 60 shot airgun practice session overlaid on a single target. The shooter was an Olympian and had achieved a perfect 600/600. I remember being blown away by the consistency as all 60 shots formed a line on the approach never varying much more than the width of the 9 ring. I remember the first time I saw that photo it blew my mind the level of consistency the top level athletes were achieving. Taking that mindset and applying it to every step of my shot process was a huge catalyst in my improvement from top 100 to top 20 on the national level.

So to answer your question, SCATT can be a very useful tool but you have to put in the effort to analyze what it's telling you. If you have a setup where you can live fire with the SCATT, that is best. However, if you're limited to dryfiring, it is still a very useful tool that everyone at the highest level uses at some point or another.

As far as developing bad habits...I'm not sure there are any bad habits the SCATT would inherently build. Just make sure the distance is set up correctly (10m can be hard to find at home) so that you're not fooling yourself. Other than that, it's a tool! The most important thing is in how you use it. Approach your training with purpose and mindfulness. Try and pick one thing to focus and work on in one given training session. But above all, have fun!

...and remember this sport is easy! There's only two steps!

1) Perform well enough mentally and physically to shoot a ten. 2) Repeat Step 1!

GinnyThrasher2 karma

Great response, thank you for addressing!

I will just add on - I did this article on best ways to train with SCATT you both might be interested in https://www.ssusa.org/content/training-with-ginny-thrasher-using-the-scatt-mx-w2/

Typically there is not a thing as too much SCATT, there is a thing as too much obsession with SCATT however. At the end of the day, a "pretty" SCATT trace is a tool to help you be more consistent, it is not a requirement or the goal