By Dan Guttenplan
---- — For the past couple of years, Newburyport’s Hank Garvey IV has made no secret of his aspirations to earn a spot on the United States Olympic team as a double trap shooter.
It’s a lot of pressure for the now 14-year-old to assume, but from the looks of Garvey’s most recent results, he seems to be thriving while keeping an eye on his national standing as the clock ticks toward the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
Garvey recently placed sixth among juniors in the country in the men’s double trap event at the National Junior Olympic Shooting Championships in Colorado Springs, Colo. Garvey moved up to the J2 age bracket for 15- to 17-year-olds and won gold. For the second time this year, Garvey advanced to the Junior Final, placing sixth among many of the nation’s top juniors in the 18- to 20-year-old range.
The recent Rupert Nock Middle School graduate improved by five places from his finish in the same competition last year. He attributes his improvement over the last year to his commitment to mental preparation and visualization.
“I train four times a week shooting-wise,” Garvey said. “Mental training wise, I do it every day. I play a perfect round in my head visualizing it.”
Garvey also made the Junior Final at the Spring Selections. In that competition, he missed clinching a berth to the World Cup in Cyprus by one place.
Coached by his father, Hank, and mother, Mary, and Minute Man Sharpshooters out of Burlington, Hank IV believes he is still on track for his goal of qualifying for the 2016 Olympic team.
“My goals are to make the World Cup team and the national team in the next year,” Garvey said.
Garvey’s practice schedule consists of four trips to Burlington per week, when he shoots between 50 to 250 rounds. He shot his first gun, a .22 caliber, at the age of 5 and began competing at 8.
Shooting is a family tradition for the Garveys. Hank’s parents went on their first date at a shooting range, and the incoming high school freshman at St. John’s Prep still uses his grandfather’s shotgun, a 12-gauge Perazzi.
“Hank has worked really hard — harder than most kids,” said his father, Hank. “From a pure work ethic standpoint, he’s putting in the hours above and beyond. The mental training piece is the other part that sets him apart.”
As part of Hank’s mental preparation, he envisions a perfect competition in which he wins the match. He then sees himself on the podium with a medal around his neck.
“He makes himself bigger than the other competitors,” said his father, Hank. “That’s the technique we use.”
Garvey was recently recognized at the Nock Middle School graduation for his commitment to excellence and dedication to his sport. He will travel to the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., July 21 to train with the national team before competing at Nationals July 29 to 31. Hank’s mother, Mary, hopes her son’s teachers at St. John’s Prep are as understanding as the ones at the Nock when it comes to juggling the travel schedule.
“The school was totally in support of him,” Mary Garvey said. “He has to miss a lot of school for competitions. Every teacher supported him 100 percent.”