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Shooting Sensation

Jacob Turner has competed in trap shooting events worldwide, but one of the biggest competitions he's been in this year was in his own backyard.

Turner, 21, took home the silver medal last weekend at the USA Shooting National Championships for Shotgun in Colorado Springs, Colo., finishing second to U.S. teammate John Mullins by six targets.

"He was in a groove," Turner said of Mullins. "He shot very well; there was no catching up to him. He was on fire in this event. We have a long history together, and we trade titles back and forth. It was his day."

Mullins, 23, had a nine-bird lead going into the finals. Turner cut into it, hitting 23 birds, but was unable to catch Mullins and finished with a total of 260 targets.

Turner, who lived in Richland until he was 16, lives and trains at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs while working toward a degree in mechanical engineering at the University of Colorado. He practices up to five hours a day, six days a week.

"I take a lot of on-line classes," he said. "You have to have your priorities. They want us to focus on shooting first and school second. That's not how I grew up, but that's how it is. This sport is a lot of basic fundamentals. You are improving on fundamentals all the time. There is always something you can be working on."

Turner didn't start shooting until he was 13, but it didn't take him long to excel. He was competing in Amateur Trap Shooting Association events when he caught the eye of U.S. Olympic coach Lloyd Woodhouse.

"At that time he wanted me to try out for the program and I did," Turner said. "He was the coach for about 20 years, and he had a knack for scouting talent."

Turner moved to New Mexico when he was 16 and spent weekends at the training center in Colorado. Two days after he graduated from high school, he moved there.

"Think of it as a really nice dorm," said Turner. "I have my own room, bathroom and all my meals are prepared."

Turner has earned the spoils of his sport. He's ranked No. 2 behind Mullins in the nation and is on target to be on the United States' two-man trap team at the 2012 London Olympics.

"When that comes up, hopefully I'm still here," Turner said. "That is a dream of mine, and I'd like to represent the United States."

Turner competes in seven to 10 events per year, and before last weekend, he competed in March on the USA World Championship men's trapshooting team at the International Shooting Sport Federation Shotgun World Cup in Acapulco, Mexico. He finished 17th overall, hitting 118 of 125 targets.

He was scheduled to compete in Beijing, China, in April, but his visa was denied by the Chinese for reasons he wasn't told.

Missing the event in Beijing dropped him from 44th to 54th in the International Shooting Sport Federation world standings.

"Since I didn't get to go to China, I didn't get any points and that screwed up my ranking," he said.

Turner is sponsored by the gunmaker Krieghoff and he shoots its K-80 Pro Sporter over-under shotgun with 30-inch barrels, a modified choke on the bottom barrel, full choke on top.

It's not a typical off-the-shelf gun.

"It's a German gun and it's not available in most stores, but you can order them," he said. "They are higher end and retail for $11,000 to $12,000. In trap, they are extremely popular. If you are an avid trap shooter, you will have heard of it or you will have one."