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Ginny Thrasher’s Journey to Winning Olympic Gold

At just 19 years old, Ginny Thrasher made history at the 2016 Rio Olympics by winning the first gold medal awarded at the Games in the women’s 10m air rifle event. Her victory surprised many, as she had no major international experience before Rio and was ranked just 23rd in the world heading into the Olympics. Here, Ginny Thrasher shares her journey to Olympic Gold.

Getting Inspired

I started Olympic shooting after a hunting trip with my grandpa. He would always take my dad and older brothers deer hunting every year, and I wanted to go. I marched up to him at 13 and announced that I wanted to go hunting, too, and he was so happy! He immediately signed me up for a hunter safety course, and that year, we went hunting.

I very quickly realized that hunting was… boring! To get up at 4 a.m., wait in the cold for a deer to walk by, and only get one shot? That wasn’t for me. But pulling the trigger was. The adrenaline of that moment was something I will never forget. That made me want to try out for my high school’s varsity air rifle team the next year, and I quickly fell in love.

Intensive Training

We trained in a converted tractor shed with no AC or bathrooms, but that didn’t matter to me. Those humble beginnings were where I started just a few days a week, but eventually, as my training and skill increased, I set my sights on going to college on a shooting scholarship. This required more practice, travel, and commitment than I had ever given anything in my life. During my senior year, I signed up with West Virginia University, the best NCAA rifle team in history, and made my first international competition. 

From there, life became a whirlwind. I went to college and found a place with what I didn’t have before – unlimited resources. I now had all the range time, high-level coaching, and teammates I could wish for, and each day, I was just focused on getting better. At this point, I didn’t care about the Olympics; I just wanted to see how good I could be. 

A Crucial Win

We went to the NCAA Championships, the biggest match in a college shooter’s season, and I had the match of my life. I won the air rifle and the .22 caliber smallbore portions of the individual competition, and WVU won the team event. The fun wasn’t over there, though. Three weeks later, I had the Olympic Trials, where I won as a completely unexpected choice and became one of two women to make the Olympic Team that year.

The rest of the summer was spent in preparation, going to a new country every other week and honing my skills with the best coaches and athletes in the world. While the basics of shooting are the same at all levels and calibers (breath control, trigger control, mental control, etc.), the higher up we get in any competition, the smaller the margins become. At the Olympics, I would have to aim for a point the size of a period in Times New Roman size 12 font with my high-tech Feinwerkbau air rifle 40 times in a row. The 8 women who did this with the most accuracy would go into an elimination final. Scores start over at 0, and every few shots, whoever is in last place has to sit down – all while the crowd is screaming and the music is blaring. The last woman left standing would win the coveted Olympic gold.

Unexpected Victory

I was 19, days before starting my sophomore year of college, when I won Olympic Gold. It was unexpected, both for me and the rest of the world, but still something I knew I was capable of and had done all the work to be ready for. It was also a moment that changed my life in more ways than one. I went from being relatively unknown, in pure pursuit of my craft, to the face of the sport and an international celebrity. This created a tough adjustment, but it has given me the platform, such as on social media, to grow and represent the greatest sport in the entire world. 

Since then, the journey of being a professional athlete has been just that, a journey. I have graduated college, competed during a global pandemic, flown to dozens of countries, experienced a career-threatening injury, and failed to make another Olympic Team. But I am forever grateful for all this sport has taught me and the community that has been a part of it.


What an inspiring story! It exemplifies the power of hard work, dedication, and an unwavering belief in oneself to accomplish a dream. It is a testament to the opportunities that exist in shooting sports for those willing to dream big. See what the Olympic gold medalist is up to by following Ginny’s Instagram account. Be sure to tune into this year’s Summer Olympics and cheer on an underdog; you never know!

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Pyramyd Insyder
Passionate about helping customers get the most from their Pyramyd AIR experience, Insyder brings years of experience to provide insightful info about the various types of guns, ammunition, accessories, and gear available. They have a passion for airgunning and take pride in helping others discover the joys of shooting sports. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced shooter, Pyramyd Insyder has something to offer everyone.

26 thoughts on “Ginny Thrasher’s Journey to Winning Olympic Gold”

  1. Thank you for sharing your journey.

    You have been to the pinnacle of Airgun competition and emerged victorious.

    Something tens of thousands have wanted, but never achieved.

    Keep moving forward in life, I wish you well.

    Congratulations, and good luck in the future!


  2. Ginny is a really nice person. She was, probably still is, my daughter’s favorite in the sport. We raise goats and the first baby goat born on our place my daughter named it Ginny Thrasher. We ran into Ginny at one of the matches and got her to autograph a picture of Ginny the goat. Unlike a lot of sports, 10M air and 3P smallbore, there are matches where a high school kid can be shooting against an Olympian. It’s pretty cool to get see your kid shooting next to a gold medal winner.

    • GF1

      Loved reading this story. I love to see women do well in the shooting sports but this is amazing.

      Gunfun 1, I miss seeing your comments on Gaylord’s blog. Hope you will chime in on the Avenge-X.


      • Deck
        Thanks. Now that I’m retired it seems I have more to do around the house. Guess I always did have them to do I just ignored them.

        Anyway good to hear from you and I’ll see if I do a little better on Tom’s blog on commenting more.

        • GF1,

          I told you, that you would have less time after retirement. Glad you are one of those that has plenty to do, and enjoys it. I know a few folks that are bored after retirement.

          Pick your projects/hobbies/etc carefully or you can easily get more on your plate than you can eat. Not sure I said that clearly. I have more projects going now than I can complete. Maybe not too bad a situation I’m still having fun.

          Take care,

          • Don
            Yep you are right. I’m getting things situated now though so I’m happy about that.

            I have got more airguns and of course still shoot the airguns everyday.

            You still doing anything with that low pressure airgun stuff? I do miss hearing about that.

              • Don
                That sounds like a job. If I was 40 years younger I would of been all into that. Use to do that on the race car rear differentials all the time.
                I’m sure a bit different on the dump truck rearends and much heavier. Plus don’t they have 2 speed rearends?

                Well good luck and will be waiting to hear about the airgun.

            • The top competitors usually are recruited by multiple colleges when they graduate from high school. They then get to choose which college to attend (out of the list of colleges making offers to them).

            • Mel83

              Consider the cost of college in the US and the debt many accrue trying to pay for it. Then it might make sense for kids who have some talent in a sport of some kind, who want to go on to higher education, to work at getting one of the scholarships offered by many schools.

              Playing football (ours not the rest of the world’s kind) or basketball or something else with a ball,, are generally the ones you hear about,, but some schools offer them in swimming, soccer (football to many) or even shooting. She chose the shooting because she enjoyed it and was good at it.

              I wasn’t good enough in anything so I joined the service. They offered a kind of scholarship, too.


              • I understand the motivation of the kid to get the scholarship, but why is the university giving out such scholarships, instead of lowering the prices for those who pay the tuition fees?

  3. There are super quality recordings on youtube from Munich, Germany – last big shooting event before the olympics. Please jest type 10m airrifle Munich in youtube.

  4. We need more like her, and more like Caitlin Clark too to counter the culture of unsportsmanlike conduct, mediocrity, entitlement and laziness affecting too many of the young ones and not just in this country. Sorry, the grumpy “Trad Dad” is manifesting in FM today – and happy Father’s Day to the dads in the readership, certainly to this young woman’s who obviously raised her right. A toast to Trad Dads and Tiger Moms today and every day!

  5. I will also add Ginny has been a big promoter of the sport. She puts out a lot of instructional videos to help the next generation of shooters. She has used her gold medal podium well.

  6. Some of you have asked if there are college shooting scholarships. Since my daughter shoots NCAA college rifle I can answer this. The NCAA allows 3.8 full scholarships per rifle team. A team is typically between 8-12. That scholarship gets divided up per the coach’s discretion. So you are looking at a 1/3 scholarship. Exception to this is shooting for one of the military academies. In that case it’s a full ride.

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