PAUL SMITHS - Paul Smith's College sophomore Annie Jardin grew up loving the outdoors, and loving the world of sports.
Those two influences, as well as meeting the right people at the right time, now have Jardin chasing an Olympic dream.
A native of Mexico, N.Y., Jardin has been involved in athletics since she was young. She swam, cross country skied and played lacrosse in high school and continued competing as a Paul Smith's student on the women's soccer squad and the cross country and nordic ski teams, where she earned trips this school year to national championships in New Hampshire and Idaho.
Annie Jardin will focus her attention on trap shooting after finishing her sophomore year at Paul Smith’s College in May.
(Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)
But Jardin's greatest love lies with trap shooting. She's hoping that passion will help earn her a trip to the Olympics, which would most likely come in 2016 or 2020.
With a hand-me-down shotgun, Jardin's best performances have been hitting 23 and 24 out of 25 clay pigeons prior to last summer. She now has a new Perazzi over/under 12-gauge shotgun, the type used by the best in the business when it comes to trap shooting.
"Once I settle in and get used to my Perazzi, I'll be knocking them down," Jardin said Friday evening during an interview at the Paul Smith's College student center. "I've only used it during four training sessions, but I love it. This is the gun I need."
Jardin said her father Ron was a hunter, albeit not an avid one, who played a big role in sparking her interest in shooting. When she was 12 years old, with inspiration from her father, Jardin took a hunter's safety course and then joined the Fulton Pathfinder Fish and Game Club.
Always a cross-country skier, Jardin began taking trap shooting seriously after competing in the sport of biathlon at the Empire State Winter Games in Lake Placid. This past winter, Jardin won two gold medals at the Empire State Games.
As a young trap shooter, Jardin competed in the American Trap Association style of shooting, which features pigeons that travel at speeds of less than 50 mph. She later moved up to International Trap Shooting, the style of competition where targets fly at about 96 mph.
As a 16-year-old, Jardin competed at the Junior Olympics and national championship events held in Colorado.
"At that time, I was still a novice," Jardin said. "I was in the back of the pack, but I just went there for the experience."
Jardin has just two weeks of school left this year, one more week of classes and then exams. After that, she's off to Elizabethville, Pa., where she will spend her summer training with trapshooter Allen Chubb, one of two coaches Jardin has worked with who have competed in the sport as Olympians.
Jardin said she will be training seven days a week at the brand-new Keystone Shooting Park. She will also work at the nearby Martz's Gap View Hunting Preserve, where she will earn money to help with living expenses and pay for lots of ammunition. Jardin estimated she will fire off about 150 rounds a day during training. She will also work out at an area YMCA to increase her fitness level.
Later in the summer, from July 29 to Aug. 15, Jardin will take her training across the Atlantic Ocean when she competes in three grand prix events in Switzerland, Germany and France where Olympic-caliber trapshooters will be among the competitors.
"Getting the level I want to be at is a big money thing," Jardin said. "I want to go to the Olympics. It's going to cost a lot of money, but it's something I want to do, and it's something I'm going to do. At some point, I'm going to need sponsors."
It's obvious that Jardin has an Olympic dream. She can't wait to begin studying from trapshooting videos in her possession, and she also carries around a dark blue binder that has plans laid out for the next eight years that feature World Cup competitions starting in 2013. In order to qualify for the Olympics, Jardin will have to earn points on the World Cup circuit, a task which she admits will not be easy.
"The United States only has one female trapshooter competing in the Olympics," Jardin said. "I want to be that person someday."
Jardin displays confidence when she talks about her dream. She says much of that stems from the guidance she has received from her Olympian coaches Chubb and Rick Cordash, a resident of New York state. The rest stems from her deep passion for trapshooting.
"I've worked with the best who know what it takes," Jardin said. "The tips I've gotten have all been positive. You have to have your heart into something like this, and I do. This summer is going to be the turning point for me. I'm training for the Olympics now.
"People pick on me, but I don't mind that," she added. "They call me Annie Oakley. I have to make sure I live up to that reputation."