Thanks to her recent third place finish at the Canadian Air Gun Grand Prix and his moving into position to represent the Virgin Islands at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, the name “Gerard” is causing quite a stir in the competitive shooting world.
Karen Gerard returned late last month from Toronto, where she finished eighth out of nearly 400 women at the 2008 Canadian Air Gun Grand Prix. The St. John resident shot the third highest score in the finals in the 10 meter target discipline — where the 10-point ring, a shooter’s main target, is half the size of a dime.
“I was really happy with the way I performed,” said Karen Gerard. “They had all the Olympians out, because everybody’s practicing at every competition they can get into before the Olympics. I outscored the Americans by far.”
Karen Gerard’s husband, Ned Gerard, is poised to represent the Virgin Islands in the 2008 Olympics, should the V.I. get a wildcard entry.
Wildcards allow athletes from countries which can’t afford to support full-time athletes who achieve at a certain level to compete at the Olympics.
World Cup Competitions
“I’m the most qualified shooter there is in the Caribbean right now,” said Ned Gerard. “The Virgin Islands has had shooters in every single Olympics since 1972. We are one of the best shooting nations in the Caribbean.”
Before the Gerards can focus on the Olympics, however, the couple will travel to Beijing for a World Cup Competition on April 5, where they will shoot on the same range which will be used for the Summer Olympic games. The Gerards, who are coached locally by Brent Thomas, will also participate in World Cup competitions in Germany and Italy in May, followed by the Central American Caribbean Championships in Guatemala in June.
Karen Gerard competes in the 10 meter air pistol and the 25 meter sport pistol, while Ned Gerard’s main emphasis is the 50-meter rifle prone, where the “bullseye is the size of Roosevelt’s face on a dime,” he said, and three-position shooting, which consists of 40 prone shots, 40 standing shots and 40 kneeling shots.
Ned Gerard first became interested in competitive shooting in 2002, when his then-13-year-old daughter suggested he take up the sport.
Best is Yet to Come
“I gave up coaching soccer here because of a back injury — I kept hurting myself on the field and I just got too old,” said Ned Gerard. “My daughter was doing a junior pentathlon, and she said, ‘why don’t you get into shooting?’ I chose the rifle because she was a pistol shooter, and I didn’t want my 13-year-old beating me if I picked up the same discipline.”
Karen Gerard picked up the sport in 2005, when she and her husband were shooting just for fun, she explained.
“Ned taught me the disciplines just playing around one day,” she said. “I just shot so well that he and the coaches said, ‘you have to do this.’ I’ve not been doing this discipline that long to be where I am.”
“She was shooting at the USA Nationals, and the president of USA Shooting said, ‘don’t sign any papers with the V.I., sign with the U.S. team,’ because she was shooting so well,” a proud Ned Gerard added. “The best from her is yet to come.”
These two talented shooters may not get the chance to continue competing, however, due to the recent loss of the property where they train. For the past six years, the Gerards — who spend approximately $25,000 per year to fund their involvement in competitive shooting — have practiced on a donated piece of property.
Training Facility Needed
“We’ve gotten word they don’t want us to shoot there anymore, so if we don’t find another place to shoot soon, Ned will probably have to withdraw from the Olympics,” said Karen Gerard. “You can’t shoot at a World Cup level without a place to train.”
The Gerards hope to continue to share competitive shooting with St. John youth — a skill which could help island students get college scholarships, Karen Gerard continued.
“Almost every major college in the U.S. has shooting scholarships which are really easy to get, so we’d love to do some type of youth development,” she said. “We’ve sought out government land, but so far, no luck. We have to find something or all of our hard work is going to go to waste.”
The Gerards train six days a week, during the day. Anyone with information on where the Gerards can train should call Karen Gerard at 690-2831.