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Teen competes at shooting nationals for 2nd year

Krystle Wagner • Apr 13, 2019 at 12:00 PM

COOPERSVILLE — Nick VanRyswyk is currently in Colorado to compete in the men’s air rifle competition of the National Junior Olympic Shooting Championships, the second year in a row for the Coopersville teen.

Having competed there last year, the 16-year-old said he feels more confident and feels ready for the 2019 experience.

Natalie Perrin, also from Coopersville, and Aliah Lloyd, a Grand Valley State University student, will also compete in the National Junior Olympic Shooting Championships in Colorado Springs.

Nick VanRyswyk was about 9 when he started shooting a BB gun and competing through 4-H. He transitioned to shooting a sporter air rifle from ages 10 to 15. Now, he shoots a precision rifle and practices at the Grand Rapids Rifle & Pistol Club.

Nick is one of the students that Cameron Zwart, head coach for Grand Valley State University’s rifle club, spoke with about practicing with the team and shooting precision. Zwart, who helps at the Grand Rapids club, said the students’ performance is a good indicator he or she would be successful in precision.

Zwart said Nick has a good work ethic and is “exceptionally determined.”

Nick and his dad, Gregg, also turned part of their basement into a 10-meter area to practice shooting at home. The younger VanRyswyk said he tries to shoot a little every day.

The competitiveness to the sport and work to improve scores are some of the aspects Nick said he enjoys the most.

“It’s really fun to keep improving and trying to beat my own scores,” he said.

His mom, Lynnae VanRyswyk, said her son’s journey has been fun and he’s been blessed with a talent.

“We attribute his talent to the Lord,” she said.

Gregg said the family is proud of Nick’s “God-given talent.”

Last year, Nick shot a high-enough score to receive an invitation to the National Junior Olympic Shooting Championships, and his family traveled to Colorado to watch him compete. When they attend competitions, Lynnae said it’s nerve-wracking watching and she always prays for Nick to be calm.

“It’s a different intensity to watch,” Lynnae said of the Junior Olympics.

Although plans didn’t work out for Nick’s parents to make the trip to Colorado this year, they plan to follow him online. Lynnae explained that competitors use an electronic target, so they will be able to see the shots Nick makes.

This year, Nick attended the competition with his grandparents.

Looking ahead, the homeschooled 11th-grader said he hopes to continue his shooting journey with a college team, and improve his skills and scores enough to represent his country on Team USA.

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