Soldier Shoots Her Way To Olympic Dream
by U.S. Army Author
October 31, 2020
Many Soldiers join the Army as a step towards achieving their
goals and dreams. That was reversed for one Soldier going through
Advanced Individual Training on Fort Jackson. She qualified for the
Olympics in a sport equally suited for the Army – marksmanship.
Spc. Alison Weisz, from Company B, 369th Adjutant General
Battalion, graduated Advanced Individual Training October 8, 2020
and then went to the Army Marksmanship Unit in Fort Benning,
Georgia. She made Team USA for the Women's 10m Air Rifle Event for
the 2021 Olympic Games, and will be part of the AMU’s International
Rifle Team, and compete internationally in both 10m Air Rifle and
50m Three-Position Small bore Rifle.
U.S. Army Spc. Alison Weisz in front of her Bravo Company
sign. Weisz will became a member of the Army Marksmanship
Unit when she graduated from Advanced Individual Training on
October 8, 2020. She has already qualified for the 2021
Olympics in Tokyo. (U.S. Army photo by Josephine Carlson)
“It had always been a goal of mine to join the Army after
qualifying for the Olympics,” said the Belgrade, Montana native.
“The initial plan pre-COVID was that I was going to qualify, go to
the Olympics this summer in Tokyo, in August come back, take a
little bit of time off, and go to basic training. And that was all
just because I wanted to look forward towards 2024 and the Olympics
in Paris. The best way to do that for my career and my sport was
with the Army.”
The AMU will help her hone her craft even
“The Army Marksmanship Unit has some of the best
resources that you could imagine, for our sport specifically,” said
Weisz, who graduated Basic Combat Training at Fort Jackson with
Company A, 3rd Battalion, 60th Infantry Regiment. “As far as
gunsmiths on hand, obviously it’s a source of income as well.”
The Army also helps her financially.
“It’s hard to get
that money and financial stability outside of it, outside of
anything like the Army,” she said.
According to USA
Shooting, Weisz “became involved in shooting sports through a gun
safety and education program out of a small club in Montana at 9
years old.” She was hooked and began her pursuit that led her to the
University of Mississippi’s shooting program where she witnessed a
slice of Army-life for the first time. Her great uncle was the only
one in her Family to have served in the Army.
highlights to her shooting resume include 2019 Pan American Games
Gold Medalist, Olympic Quota Winner, splitting a playing card on her
first try, and four-time NCAA Individual Qualifier and 2016 NCAA Air
Rifle Bronze Medalist.
U.S. Army Spc. Alison Weisz prepares to fire during a competition
at an undisclosed date. Weisz, upon graduating Advanced Individual Training with 369th Adjutant General Battalion
on October 8, 2020 became a member of the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit International Rifle Team. Prior to joining the U.S. Army, Weisz earned a spot on Team USA for the 2021 Olympic Games in the Women's 10m Air Rifle event. (Photo by U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit)
“When I was in college we had matches there,” Weisz said of
traveling to Georgia to compete at Fort Benning, “because they host
a lot of the national competitions and other selection matches.”
It was at these competitions she would face rivals now turned
“Even to make this Olympic team, I was competing against my now
teammates at the Army Marksmanship Unit and quite honestly it was a
very tight race between a couple of them and myself for the women’s
10 meter event,” she said.
In basic training she initially
didn’t let her drill sergeants know that she was a world-class
marksman who could split a playing card in half with a single shot.
In fact, she said she found Basic Rifle Marksmanship “super-
fascinating” because it reinforced principles she had known for a
“I was actually really impressed by all the
fundamentals that they taught and the fact that those are the same
fundamentals that I still follow today and it's a completely
different type and style of shooting so it was really cool to see,”
She added she was impressed how the drill
sergeants were able to teach her peers “who have never touched
rifles before, they’ve never seen them, and they’ve never been
While she felt home on the rifle range, she
found other aspects of training difficult such as doing physical
training in the hot, humid South Carolina mornings, to being rained
on during training because you would be wet and have to sit in soggy
clothes until later in the day when you could return to the barracks
“I think the most challenging was learning how to
deal with so many different people from so many different places and
doing such difficult yet simple things 24/7,” she said. Things such
as standing at attention, not moving, being quiet, and trying to get
60 people or more to do were difficult for people who don’t have a
background founded in discipline.
“They might not have had
that being raised or in their life,” she said. “In my sport,
discipline is literally all it is; so it was very natural for me.
When I need to do something I just do it and just deal with it even
if something is bothering me to ignore it and I know and I
understand that other people didn’t have that.”
challenges, Weisz said she plans on using the new experiences to
help her on the firing line.
“Even though it was in using
pushups or rappelling down the wall with fear … I can now take those
skills I’ve learned and apply when I’m actually training and
shooting so rather than questioning myself (with questions like),
‘Am I going to be able to shoot well today?’”
“super-excited” to get to the AMU after graduation because she “will
be training with the best of the best and now we will be the best of
the best. The more you surround yourself with the best, the better
you will become.
Note: Minor editing to the story
without any factual changes.
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