July 23, 2014 - Nathan Eisenhardt's impressive skeet shooting abilities earned him yet another medal last week.
OHS junior Nathan Eisenhardt (right), of Addison Twp., shakes hands with a fellow shooter. Photo courtesy of USA Shooting. (click for larger version)
The 15-year-old Addison resident was the men's skeet champion in the J2 Division (ages 15 to 17) at the 2014 National Junior Olympic Shooting Championships held at Fort Carson in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Nathan and his trusty 12-gauge Perazzi Mirage over-and-under shotgun busted 117 out of 125 clay targets.
"After the first day (of competition), I knew I had a shot," he said. "I shot a 68 (out of 75) on the first day and I was tied for seventh. Then the next day, I shot a 49 out of 50, which was the best day I've ever had."
He gained an extra point for placing fifth in the finals, which made his final score 118.
Nathan, who will begin his junior year at Oxford High School this fall, was among 45 young men from 17 states who competed in three skeet-shooting divisions.
A modest competitor, he described his J2 Division win as "pretty good."
"There's always room for more improvement," he said. "But I definitely did what I had to do."
His father, Eric Eisenhardt, was quite pleased with his son's performance.
"He's top dog in the J2 Division," he said. "He cranked. He shot very well."
Nathan just missed making either the National Junior team or the Junior Olympic squad.
He was among the top six shooters who competed in the finals, which determines who advances. The top two shooters earn spots on the National Junior team, while the third and fourth place finishers make the Junior Olympic squad.
"He came in fifth out of the six," Eric said.
Nathan busted 13 out of 16 targets in the finals. "If he would have got 15, he would have been in there," Eric said.
"I was the next guy out," Nathan said. "It's pretty cool to come this close."
Nathan said competition at the national level is much, much stiffer than at the state level and that changes things.
"I think nerves got to me in the finals," he admitted. "When it was the top six all shooting against each other, it was a whole different ball game. I think that's what got me."
Although Nathan didn't make one of the teams this time, he still has a shot – pun intended – at making the National Junior team at another competition in early August. "I have a pretty good chance," Nathan said. "I have just as much of a chance as I did in this past one."
Eric said his son also has at opportunity to make the Junior Olympic squad at a competition this weekend.
"Our end goal here is to get him on a team," he said. "This is just part of the ladder to climb to get onto the Olympic team and to be able to shoot at the Olympics."
Nathan's goal is to compete in the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
"I'm pretty positive I'll make it at some point in my future," Nathan said.
Nathan's been shooting skeet for two years. Back in May, he won the state championship by placing first at the Michigan Junior Olympic Scholastic Clay Target Program State Shoot held at the North Macomb Sportsmen's Club in Washington Township.
He busted 109 out of 125 targets.
CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.