Two Jacksonville University shooting teammates have their sights set on competing, and winning, at the highest level of their sport.
Incoming junior Lance Thompson will take the international stage in Olympic trap shooting on May 11 in Suhl, Germany in the ISSF World Cup Junior. Incoming sophomore Chantry Stermer qualified for the event as an alternate in trap shooting, but will travel to Osijek, Croatia in September to represent the U.S. at the ISSF World Championship Shotgun, where Thompson will also compete.
To qualify, Thompson and Stermer had to compete in selection matches throughout the year. Their placement in those events is what qualifies them to compete in the Junior World Cup and World Championships. Three are chosen for the U.S. in each event. They can compete in junior events until they turn 21.
Thompson has a year left of junior eligibility and Stermer has about two.
Thompson won both of his selection matches in Kerrville, Texas and Tuscon, Arizona. Stermer medaled in both, and each punched their tickets to the World Cup and World Championship and landed them a spot on the U.S. Junior Shooting Team.
“I’m very grateful,” Thompson said of the opportunity to compete at the Junior World Cup. “Even if I don’t do well there, just the experience of traveling internationally and all the people I’ve met – if I was to drop shooting tomorrow, I’d be very happy with how far it brought me and how it helped me as a person. I’m very happy where I am.”
The two JU Shooting Team members are working toward making the 2024 U.S. Olympic Shooting team, taking their talents abroad once again to Paris for the Summer Olympics.
“This is a passion for the both of them, and the amount of work it takes to compete at this level is unsurpassed,” said JU Shooting Coach David Dobson. “They are consummate professionals in how they discipline themselves and manage their emotions while competing, as this is a game of inches wherein a single target missed is the difference between winning and not.”
Stermer made the U.S. World Championship team in 2020, but didn’t get to compete due to COVID-19. Her trip feels long-awaited.
“I’m so excited,” she said. “Every time I go to a shoot I tell my dad that if I make this team, I hope we travel somewhere. All I want to do is go out of the country to shoot.”
Dobson recruited Thompson and Stermer to join the varsity shooting team out of high school. Both were already competing in junior shooting events, and knew each other from those competitions.
Thompson said JU was the right fit for him academically, and Stermer heard about his experience there and wanted to attend the following year.
Thompson has been shooting since he was nine, when he received his first shotgun for Christmas. His dad took him to a gun safety course, where he was the youngest in a group of 16 to 18 year olds. The instructor let him stay in the class since he was much taller than the average nine year old.
“They said out of the whole class, I was the best shooter and they told my dad he should get me into shooting if I liked it,” Thompson said. “My dad wanted me to pick something I could do for a long time. We found an olympic trap range about an hour and 30 minutes from my house, so we went and checked that out. The first round I shot, I loved it.”
Stermer hasn’t been involved in the sport nearly as long, starting just three years ago. She came into shotgun shooting with experience in hunting and pistol shooting. Once she switched to shotgun shooting, she dedicated every spare moment to it. She was homeschooled her sophomore and junior years of high school to accommodate her busy competition schedule.
“I’d be gone for a month at a time,” she said. “That’s all I did and that’s all I wanted to do.”
Stermer will be competing against shooters with years more experience than she has, but she’s ready for the challenge.
“I’m really hard on myself,” she said. “If I go and do badly, I’ll ask how it’s possible. My dad will tell me I’ve only been shooting for three years so it’s going to happen. You always want it to be perfect.”
By Katie Garwood