For Amanda Furrer the dream started small. “I just wanted to win a medal,” she said.
And she did. In 2007, she won a bronze medal at the Pan American Games. But that win only whetted her appetite for more and her dreams are now Olympic-size.
Furrer, 21, is a member of the U.S. Shooting Team and will compete in the Olympics in London in August.
This month, the Mead graduate enjoyed a quick three-day visit to her hometown before jetting off to train in Germany.
She once had dreams that didn’t involve shooting. “I wanted to be Shania Twain,” she said, laughing. “I’d put on a cowboy hat and sing for my family.”
But when her older sister took up shooting, Furrer didn’t want to be left out. At 11 she started shooting with the Spokane Junior Rifle Club, where her dad was a coach. “My dad’s always been my primary coach.”
Furrer competes in the women’s 50-meter three-position event. Using a .22 rifle she takes 20 shots at a target from three positions; prone, standing and kneeling.
“It’s all about accuracy,” she said.
Initially, shooting was all about fun. But when she heard college scholarships were available, she decided to sharpen her focus.
Her concentration paid off. By 16, competitive shooting had taken her all over the world, and she held six national junior records. In 2008, she won gold in the U.S. Junior Olympics. She’s attending Ohio State University thanks to shooting scholarships.
“I never imagined taking it this far,” Furrer said. “But once you get into it, it’s hard to stop.”
She’s had to make sacrifices along the way. While her friends were going to dances and having sleepovers, she was waking up at the crack of dawn to travel to shooting events.
The rigorous demands of competitive shooting took a toll. “I’m very social,” she said. “I struggled in high school. I really almost quit.”
Furrer may have missed some social functions in high school, but she didn’t sacrifice her femininity. The self-described girly-girl said, “I love wearing glitter, high heels and make-up and I love shopping.”
Indeed, the petite beauty looks more prom queen than Annie Oakley.
But she also enjoys fishing, four-wheeling and camping. Shooting from the prone position means she’s stretched out on the ground, so she says she’s “used to getting dirty.”
She’s also used to hard work. Though Furrer said shooting is an intense mental sport, physical conditioning is crucial. “It’s important to know your body when you’re shooting.”
When not competing, she’s practicing or working out. Her schedule leaves little time for dating. “I’m married to my gun,” she said.
Indeed, it takes a high degree of dedication and commitment to compete at the elite level. And Furrer has a new target in her sight – an Olympic medal. “Now that I’m on the team, I want a medal.”
Big dreams don’t intimidate her at all. She said, “The more I reach for, the more amazing things keep happening.”