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Tucker Fowler of Durham stands with some of the awards he has won in shooting competitions, including the Arthur Laritsen Award for consistently high marksmanship.

Durham teen right on the mark

Tucker Fowler, a Durham teenager entering Coginchaug Regional High School in the fall, was recently recognized for his consistency and skill at marksmanship with the Arthur Laritsen Award.

Tucker trains with a .22 caliber competition rifle once a week at the Blue Trail Shooting Range in Wallingford. His memory of first shooting a gun involves BB guns, years ago. Training at Blue Trail did not start until Tucker was in sixth grade.

On the target sheet Tucker uses as a sample, there are a dozen concentric circular targets, each smaller than a hockey puck. On Tucker’s sheet, there are no stray bullet holes and few shots off the bulls-eye.

Finishing highly in competitions is not about hitting a bulls-eye, it’s about hitting a bulls-eye over and over. Producing those results, according to Tucker, requires the right mental state. “I just stay focused. I don’t fool around and I’m patient,” Tucker said.

The Arthur Laritsen Award is given to the shooter who has the highest combined score from three different matches. “I was really surprised that I got that,” said Tucker. “I’m not in it to win it. I’m kind of doing it for fun.”

The three matches were the Gallery, Postal, and the Niantic from October, 2013 to April, 2014. At the Postal and Niantic matches, Tucker finished second. At the Gallery, which has a different ranking system, he finished in the 90th percentile. No other sub-junior had such consistently high results.

“I’m competing against every sub-junior pretty much in the state,” Tucker said.

Sub-junior competitors shoot from a prone position 50 feet away from the target. Competitors take two shots at each target. Two bulls eyes are worth 20 points. For example, in the Niantic match, Tucker scored 267 out of a possible 300 for second place.

Tucker was also elected to the sub-junior team on the Connecticut State Rifle and Revolver Association All State Team. Tucker’s coach, David Lyman, nominated him, which according to Jim Fowler, Tucker’s father, places him among the top 10 sub-juniors in the state.

Tucker described shooting as a sport of concentration. To be a good shooter, Tucker said, “You need to have patience. Most kids just want to get in there and get it done. But you have to take time, take a break in between shots that you don’t think are going to be good because sometimes when I get shaking, I have to stop and not rush and make mistakes.”

A family connection, Tucker said, got him into shooting. “My dad shot when he was little. I just like shooting. I find it fun. You get to hold a powerful weapon, but you use it correctly. I know how to use it, which is pretty cool.”

Tucker has encouraged his younger sister Sydney to take up shooting, without success so far. Boys and girls can compete against each other in marksmanship. It happened to Tucker at one of his recent matches. “I was surrounded by two girls,” Tucker said. “One girl beat me and the other finished in third.”

A cross-country runner at Strong School, Tucker plans to continue that and maybe add track and field at CRHS. An alto saxophone player for Strong and stage crew worker for JLPA/PaperHouse Theater, Tucker also has musical interests and skills. Other than some basketball for fun, Tucker does not play many traditional team sports.

Although the schools in District 13 no longer have shooting teams, Tucker plans to continue at the junior level. Juniors shoot sitting, prone, standing, or kneeling. Because the body sways more in those positions, more concentration is required and Tucker said he feels ready for the challenge.

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