Olympics Exclusive Q&A: Mary Tucker, USA Women's Air Rifle and 50m Smallbore - NSSF Let's Go Shooting
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Olympics Exclusive Q&A: Mary Tucker, USA Women’s Air Rifle and 50m Smallbore

By: Daphane Cassidy, NSSF Staff

As the Paris 2024 Olympics approach, Mary Tucker, an exceptional talent in Women’s Air Rifle and 50m Smallbore Rifle is gearing up to represent Team USA on the global stage.

In an exclusive Q&A session with NSSF, Mary shares her inspiring journey from starting at a high school club with minimal equipment to becoming an Olympic athlete. She provides insights into her evolving training regimen, emphasizing the importance of mental and physical health in her preparation. Mary discusses the honor and challenges of representing the USA, her process-oriented goals and offers valuable advice to aspiring athletes about prioritizing themselves and setting ambitious goals. Additionally, she candidly addresses the financial struggles faced by athletes in lesser-known sports and the vital role of sponsorships and support systems in her journey.

Learn more about Mary Tucker’s experiences as she aims to achieve Olympic success in Paris.

How did you get started in shooting sports? Can you describe your journey from starting in shooting sports to becoming an Olympic athlete?

“I started shooting in 2017 at a high school club, it was sporter, so there were no suits or fancy equipment. I was really bad at it and eventually was told I should pick something else. I quit that team, went on YouTube and started looking at videos of finals from international matches. I bought the stuff they had and built my positions based on theirs, with the mindset that if I did what they did, then I would be like them. I found my first personal coach after that and progressed quickly, getting college scholarships and going to international matches at the end of 2018. I set a goal of making the Tokyo Olympic team, and everyone thought it was too ambitious; even though I was committed to it, I knew it was a long shot, but after winning the first trials, I believed even more and knew I wanted to go to as many games as possible. Now, I have a lot more experience and a different coach. I even live in a different country, and now I feel even more prepared for Paris.”

Mary Tucker USA Shooting

Mary Tucker competing in the U.S. Olympic Trials. Image Source: (USA Shooting/Joshua Schave)

How has your training regimen evolved since qualifying for the 2024 Olympics? Can you describe a typical day of training in preparation for the Olympics?

“I wouldn’t say my training has changed at all because of qualifying for Paris; that’s been my goal even since before Tokyo. I will say that my training has changed because of my improvements in mental and physical health, as well as simply life progress. Around transferring universities, I prioritized my mental health, which has come with having some training be shorter or even not at all, as well as shifting my mindset to still ambitious and confident but less do or die. I’ve put a lot of time into learning about myself and how my brain works so that I can both treat myself better and cater things to help ease stressors. Physically, I have focused on making myself healthier, recovering from an eating disorder and surgery, and doing better physical training specific for my sport. It has come with a lot of changes that have influenced my training since pain, balance, positions, and the fitting of suits have all continuously shifted. In life, I have found a partner, moved to Europe, and graduated from university. At one point, I shot more at competitions than in training, but now it’s balancing back out, and I am getting a lot of quality time to put the work in. I wouldn’t say any day is the same; I just take what I can each day and have vowed to get 1% better every day, whatever that may look like at that moment.”

How does it feel to be preparing for the Olympics, and what does this opportunity mean to you?

“Preparing for the games comes with a lot of stress but also a lot of feelings of fulfillment. The opportunity to represent Team USA is one that I will always be proud of. I set my goals early of going to as many games and winning as many medals as possible in my career, so this is another big step in that.”

What are your goals and aspirations for the Paris 2024 Olympics?

“I am confident in myself, and I know that if I trust my training, I will do really well. I have been putting in the work for a long time and trying to do things in ways that will make me a better athlete. My goals are process oriented, and to do everything to the best of my abilities in those moments.”

Mary Tucker

USA Shooting Athletes Mary Tucker and Sagen Maddalena celebrate their U.S. Olympic Trials performance. Image Source: (USA Shooting/Joshua Schave)

What advice would you give to aspiring shooting sports athletes who hope to compete at the Olympic level in the future?

“My advice to young athletes is to prioritize yourself, set your goals too high, get as much experience as possible, take everything as a learning opportunity, and have fun! Surround yourself with the people who will help you with those things, and you’ll achieve everything you want to.”

Mary Tucker

Mary Tucker competing in the 2023 Pan Ams. Image Source: (USA Shooting/Joshua Schave)

Have you encountered challenges securing funding or sponsorships to support your Olympic aspirations? How do you manage the financial aspects of your shooting career, including equipment costs and travel?

“Finances are a huge part of any athlete’s journey, and for those of us in sports that are lesser known or more niche, it can be a huge struggle. I have been very fortunate to be able to compete in the NCAA, and be on scholarship so that I can recieve a high quality education. With NIL, there are now more opportunities for collegiate athletes, which is something positive for juniors. Unfortunately, though, my sports federation does not provide adequate funding for living. Right now, they are able to cover some travel and match fees, but a lot of things end up coming out of pocket, which is difficult without much of a paycheck. I rely on my amazing sponsors for my equipment needs, but they can only do so much, so I am always looking for more sponsors to work with. This is a high cost sport, both in the sense of time and work put in, but also financially it is difficult to break even. Right now, I am just trying to get through Paris, utilizing my family and support system. Afterward, I will be forced to consider whether I can continue this sport or not, as I may have to find something that pays in order to plan for my future.”

Mary Tucker’s commitment to improving both mentally and physically has shaped her into a formidable athlete ready to take on the world at the Paris 2024 Olympics. Despite the financial challenges and uncertainties of the future, Mary’s dedication to her goals and her ability to learn and grow are inspiring. She advises young athletes to focus on themselves, gain experience, and have fun while striving for excellence. As she prepares for Paris, Mary Tucker is a shining example of hope and motivation.

Be sure to follow along and support Mary and the USA Shooting Athletes competing in the Olympics this summer.

How to Get Involved and Support USA Shooting

Join NSSF in supporting the USA Shooting team and be part of their path to Olympic glory. Whether you become a USA Shooting member, donate, sponsor or follow the Olympic sports your involvement, in any capacity, helps elevate the sport and helps ensure our athletes have the resources they need to excel on the world stage.

BECOME A MEMBER: Whether you want to compete in USA Shooting-sanctioned events, or if you’re just interested in following the sport and supporting USA Shooting, there are membership options for you.

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Learn more about the USA Shooting Athletes Heading to the 2024 Olympics

USA Shooting Athletes Qualified for 2024 Paris Olympics

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