Wildcat Olympian: Will Shaner bringing home gold as worlds best air rifle shooter

(L to R) Silver medallist China's Sheng Lihao, gold medallist USA's William Shaner and bronze medallist China's Yang Haoran (Photo by TAUSEEF MUSTAFA/AFP via Getty Images)
(L to R) Silver medallist China's Sheng Lihao, gold medallist USA's William Shaner and bronze medallist China's Yang Haoran (Photo by TAUSEEF MUSTAFA/AFP via Getty Images) /

Kentucky Wildcat olympian Will Shaner stood atop the podium on Sunday with a gold medal around his neck representing the USA and the Bluegrass proving he is the best in the world by winning a gold medal in the men’s male air rifle shooting in record fashion.

On day two of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics inside the Asaka Shooting Range Shaner the junior from Colorado Springs, CO, and three-time All-American was on the mark all day.

At just 20-years-old he entered the games ranked only 21st and the youngest man to qualify for an Olympic rifle competition, but at the end of the day, Shiner stood above everyone.

Will Shiner started with a Red Ryder BB gun and is now a gold medalist

After the first competition stage of the final, Shaner had a top score of 105.8 and he proceeded to leave the completion watching in awe as he solidified the Olympic record with a 251.6. In the end, Shaner fired 82 shots Sunday with all of them being on target. His lowest score was 10.1.

Watching Shaner he never seemed to flinch, show any nerves, and completely looked in his element. This is truly what the Olympics represents no matter what sport because in the end, you are up against the best in the world and grow up dreaming about this moment.

Earlier this year, Shaner led the Wildcats to their third national championship as the Wildcat team recorded the highest ever team score in the modern format at the NCAA Rifle Championships.

It was an impressive year and the national championship saw Kentucky notch a new school-record team score and a share of the Great America Rifle Conference Regular-Season Championship.

Shaner earned first-team All-America honors this past season from the Collegiate Rifle Coaches Association for aggregate, Smallbore, and air rifle. It was the third straight season the CRCA has honored Shaner as an All-American after he was first-team All-America last season and earned CRCA Rookie of the Year and All-America honors as a freshman.

He was asked by Sharp Shooting USA what his first memories of handling a firearm were?

"“The first firearm I ever picked up was a Red Ryder BB gun. My grandfather bought it for me when I was about seven years old. He thought it would be a fun thing for me to do since we lived in the country and could shoot firearms on our property.”"

From there he grew up to compete in 4-H when he was just nine years old. His younger sister Brianna had been showing animals in 4-H for a few years and Will wanted to try his hand at something a bit different.

He had the green light from his family since his grandfather competed in the Army in high-power competitions.  Will’s grandfather and his dad Gregory thought 4-H would be a good introduction to the shooting community.

"“When I was 14, I made the National Junior Olympic team. That same year I also earned my first international gold medal at an air gun competition in Innsbruck, Austria. From there it was a steady progression, eventually landing a spot on the University of Kentucky Rifle Team and subsequently making the Olympic team.”"

Before arriving on UK’s campus he was already making a name for himself around the world.

He was the 2016 US National Junior Air Rifle Champion; Silver Medalist in both air rifle and small-bore at the 2017 and 2018 Junior Olympics; claimed the silver medal in men’s open-air rifle at the 2018 US National Championships and then won the 2016 Junior Olympic Championship in men’s air rifle.

After the Olympic competition, Shaner was asked by USA Today how he felt.

"“Still trying to believe it. It has been a long time, though, growing up in the sport, progressing. To finally have (the gold medal), it’s amazing, I just did the same thing as I did there and just worked out the problems I had and just knew that it was going to get me to where I wanted to be.”"

Congratulations Will. Big Blue Nation is proud of our Olympic Champion.