Bosque Farms teenager aims high for Olympic shooting team

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At only 15 years old, Cody Sanchez has taken aim at his future.

His parents, Kevin and Victoria Sanchez, agree that he is a determined, driven young man and will ultimately succeed in his plan to join the U.S. Olympic air rifle shooting team.

And this isn't a dream Cody hopes to achieve in some far off future. No, he plans to compete in the 2016 summer Olympics.

After just over a year in the sport, Cody seems to have the makings of a champion. In every Civilian Marksmanship Program shooting competition he has entered, Sanchez has walked away a winner, said Kevin Sanchez.

His most recent win was in the 3-position Sporter Junior Olympic and the National Rifle Association Airgun National Championships earlier this month.

He is also ranked No. 1 nationally by the Civilian Marksmanship Program Club and Competition Track.

Taking up air rifle shooting was pretty much a fluke for the home-schooled student. One day, while helping out his mother at her gift shop in Bosque Farms, one of Cody's friends came by and asked if he wanted to go shooting.

"I told him to go ahead. What kid wants to hang out and help his mom?" Victoria said.

During that brief afternoon of target practice, Cody out-shot his friend and discovered a hidden talent.

With a borrowed air rifle, jacket, pants and shoes, and his mother as his coach, Cody has picked up win after win on the amateur air rifle competition circuit as part of the Valencia County 4-H Shooting Sports.

In 2010, he won the Duke City Cup. The next year, Cody won the New Mexico State 3PAR (three position air rifle) Junior Olympic Championship, the New Mexico State Air Rifle Championship and CMP Western Region, the New Mexico 4-H State Championship, the National 4-H Shooting Sports Invitational, the El Paso Area Fall Cup Match, the Duke City Cup and the Rocky Mountain Regional CMP Cup Match.

This year, Cody has won the Amigo JROTC Military Skills Meet CMP Cup Match, the New Mexico State 3PAR Junior Olympic Championships, New Mexico State Air Rifle Championship and CMP Western Region and the New Mexico 4-H State Championship.

To stay in top shooting form, Cody tapes targets to a shelf with a backstop in his parents' gift shop to practice his marksmanship.

And all this effort is building towards a shot at the Olympic team, said Kevin.

In order to compete though, Cody and his family are going to have to come up with a good chunk of cash. Since all his equipment is borrowed, Cody needs to purchase shooting clothes, plus three rifles and their back-ups.

"The rifles are about $4,200 each," said Victoria. "And that's used."

There is one small silver lining though, his mother says.

"He wants to be a vet and the Olympic training facility is in Ft. Collins, so that works out great," she said.

Being a veterinarian is definitely the back up plan for Cody though. He says being an Olympic caliber shooter can be a lucrative career.

There is an Olympic champion who retired at age 23, he says, and there are competitions in the post-Olympic arena that offer up to $1 million in cash and prizes.

When asked if he gets nervous when he's on the line, Cody thinks for a moment and shrugs.

"Not really I just try to clear my mind and let the muscle memory take over," Cody said. "If you think about it too hard, that's when you mess up."


-- Email the author at jdendinger@news-bulletin.com.