Imagine taking aim at a target that is no bigger than the size of the period at the end of this sentence. If you can grasp the idea of it then take the next step and let’s do it 120 times in three hours.
In sports there are many ways to be perfect. You can juke one way or another to avoid a defender. You can take the jumper, drive the lane and you can even dish it to your teammate. “Perfection” can be up, down, around, over and even through.
In rifle there is only one way, and that is right down the barrel, perfection sits in the 10-ring 50 feet down range. UTEP’s Mara Rouse and hundreds of other collegiate athletes have been chasing this target for as long as they can remember.
“Always having to be on and always having to be at that level where you are stable, strong and mentally prepared is one of the hardest things I have ever had to do,” Team captain Rouse stated.
Breathing is a big part of the stability that she describes. Taking a breath is something we take for granted in our everyday lives. For Rouse and her teammates it is a pivotal aspect of taking that “Perfect” shot.
A breath held too long or not long enough could spell disaster for their shot, and each shot is so precious. The pace of their inhale and exhale means as much as following through with a swing in golf or setting your feet for a three-point shot in basketball.
The singular act that these athletes are executing daily can weigh heavily on their mental endurance. To cope with this the senior relies on her teammates that stand the line with her.
“I know there are going to be days where I am struggling mentally,” Rouse said. “But I know I can look down the line and see girls who are thriving. It motivates me. I know that if they can do it then so can I. We are one big family. When we are traveling, and I can look down the line and see Orange and Blue. It is absolutely amazing.”
UTEP has lofty goals of making the NCAA meet in March of 2020. Rouse has never competed at nationals, and her goal is to perform on that stage.
“The biggest goal is to go to NCAAs,” Rouse stated. “Our program hasn’t done that since 2012, and so it is time for that gap to close. It is time for us to go to that next level, and put UTEP rifle back on the map.”
The Orange and Blue, along with their team captain will be seeking to earn perfection, and make history for the Miners come the spring.
Video by GECU/UTEP