Meet Tia Imel- Aspiring Olympic Shooter

Photo by Matthew Kou, Imagineering Studios Inc.

Photo by Matthew Kou, Imagineering Studios Inc.

I first came across Tia Imel last year when one of my Facebook friends, Top Shot Season 4 and 5 competitor Gabby Franco, posted about Tia. Tia was raising money to buy a new rifle for practice and competition, and to help cover her travel and training expenses. Tia’s energy, big smile, and enthusiasm were inspiring hundreds of people to chip in and help out. Tia makes jewelry by shooting quarters at 10 meters with a .22LR rifle, smoothes and polishes the quarters, and then adds a lanyard. (You can buy one at the link provided at the end of the article).

Photo courtesy of Tia's Facebook page Facebook.com/TiaImel.

Tia with one of her homemade necklaces. Photo courtesy of Tia’s Facebook page Facebook.com/TiaImel.

She sold enough necklaces to fund the purchase of her Walther LG300-XT Junior air rifle.

Photo by Matthew Kou, Imagineering Studios Inc.

Walther LG300-XT Junior air rifle. Photo by Matthew Kou, Imagineering Studios Inc.

Photo by Matthew Kou, Imagineering Studios Inc.

Photo by Matthew Kou, Imagineering Studios Inc.

Photo by Matthew Kou, Imagineering Studios Inc.

Photo by Matthew Kou, Imagineering Studios Inc.

Photo by Matthew Kou, Imagineering Studios Inc.

Photo by Matthew Kou, Imagineering Studios Inc.

Tia training hard at an early age. Photo by Matthew Kou, Imagineering Studios Inc.

Tia training hard at an early age. Photo by Matthew Kou, Imagineering Studios Inc.

One of Tia’s life goals is to compete in the Olympics in 2020 when she will be 18 years old. She is smart and has started her training at an early age. TFB got a chance to chat with Tia and get some more background about her aspirations.

Hi Tia, tell TFB readers a bit about yourself so we can get to know you.

I am 11 years old and I am a 5th grader at Mancos Elementary School. I also ski, play volleyball, soccer and dance.

How did you get into shooting?

My dad started me shooting when I was five. I was really good.

My Dad also taught me how to shoot, and I was just a bit older than you at age six. What is your dream with regards to shooting?

I want to shoot in college and the Olympics.

Those are fantastic goals! I really enjoyed helping you fundraise for your new gun, how many quarters did you end up shooting and what was the fundraising experience like?

I sold like 125 necklaces which was enough to buy my Air Rifle. They are lots of work to make. It is easy to shoot them but hard to get the sharp edges off. They take a long time.

Coins shot by Tia and turned into jewelry. All proceeds go to help Tia train for competition.

Coins shot by Tia and turned into jewelry. All proceeds go to help Tia train for competition.

Not only are you a great shot, but you’re a great entrepreneur. We love seeing that! What is your practice schedule like? Do you have a coach?

I practice .22 on Fridays at the Gun Club. I also shoot my air rifle at home. I also have a SCATT for practice. My Dad is my coach. But other shooters have helped me a lot – Gabby Franco and Roger Withrow.

I hear you returned from the National Junior Olympics. What was that experience like? How did you do?

It was great and lots of fun. I met a lot of shooters from around the USA and they were all real nice. I shot my personal best 361. But I have shot higher now.

WAG-2215

Photo by Matthew Kou, Imagineering Studios Inc.

Olympic shooting takes a tremendous amount of training and discipline. Tia focuses her mind and breathing before re-engaging her target. Photo by Matthew Kou, Imagineering Studios Inc.

Olympic shooting takes a tremendous amount of training and discipline. Tia focuses her mind and breathing before re-engaging her target. Photo by Matthew Kou, Imagineering Studios Inc.

What do you enjoy most about shooting?

I like to shoot a lot. I like to go to the competitions the best. We get to travel and stay in hotels. I also like to shoot prairie dogs that make holes in the pasture.

Tell us about your rifles and what you love most about them.

My favorite rifle is my Walther Air Rifle that I got with the money from the necklaces I sold. It fits me really good and has an awesome trigger and it’s blue. I like my .22, but not as much as the air rifle. I also have a rifle with a scope for hunting prairie dogs.

Walther LG300-XT. Photo by Matthew Kou, Imagineering Studios Inc.

Walther LG300-XT. Photo by Matthew Kou, Imagineering Studios Inc.

Thank you Tia, for taking time to speak with us here at TFB. We wish you all the best, and we will see you at the 2020 Olympic games shooting for the United States!

Follow Tia at https://www.facebook.com/TiaImel

Buy a necklace and give donations at http://www.offhandgear.com/Tia-Imel-Store-s/1851.htm


Chris Cheng

Chris Cheng is History Channel’s Top Shot Season 4 champion and an NRA News Commentator. A self-taught amateur (and former Googler) turned pro through his Top Shot win, Cheng very much still considers himself an amateur who parachuted into this new career.

He is a professional marksman for Bass Pro Shops who shares his thoughts and experiences from the perspective of a newbie to the shooting community. www.TopShotChris.com.


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  • noguncontrol

    she should have used the money to get herself a decked out ar in .300 blk.

  • noob

    That’s awesome :) I hope that she achieves her dreams and much more.

  • Leonard

    I started my shooting career with air rifles too, although much later than Tia, at age 16. The precision achieved by these sporting air rifles is incredible and shooting them is the best way to learn the basics of how to shoot accurately with a rifle if you ask me. It’s also an incredible challenging sport: in the typical 10 m discipline you have to hit a 0,5 mm sized target to achieve the highest score, 10/10!
    For comparision, imagine you would have to hit a 5 mm sized target at 100 m…

  • http://www.thefirearmblog.com/ Alex C.

    Very cool! It is humbling to see the youth taking up shooting sports. Brought a smile to my face.

    • allannon

      TBH, I’m glad to see kids that enthusiastic about pretty much anything. Most of us just kinda float through life at that age.

      Being a shooting sport is icing on the cake. :)

  • Patrick Karmel Shamsuddoha

    Who evere her dad is he should have her cross country ski as well then she try biathlon as well !!!

  • West

    If there is any competitive activity in which girls and women can beat the pants off men its shooting. It doesn’t take a great amount of strength just discipline and concentration.

  • james

    Ahhh I remember being able to find and afford .22 ammo. Those were the days…

  • derfelcadarn

    Young shooters, it does not get any better than this !

  • mm

    Destroying U.S. money is a federal offense:

    18 U.S. Code § 333

    Whoever mutilates, cuts, defaces, disfigures, or perforates, or unites or cements together, or does any other thing to any bank bill, draft, note, or other evidence of debt issued by any national banking association, or Federal Reserve bank, or the Federal Reserve System, with intent to render such bank bill, draft, note, or other evidence of debt unfit to be reissued, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than six months, or both

    • Anonymoose

      since when has that stopped people from squashing pennies or burning dollars?

    • PatrickHenry1789

      Yeah, her and the entire family will probably be tossed into a gulag somewhere. At the very least, they’ll probably get a visit from CPS if the story makes enough rounds.

    • Kerry

      Sigh.

      Read: http://coins.thefuntimesguide.com/2009/11/elongated_coins.php

      Short story? Defacing is only illegal when it is used for the purposes of counterfeiting (see: debasing a pure gold coin).

    • Blake

      Right up there with cutting mattress tags.

      If this was illegal then the penny squasher machines you see at tourist sites would be too…

    • Travis Imel

      The
      statute is a criminal law. Thus criminal intent must be present. (Federal statue
      18 USC 331 states that whoever fraudulently alters)

      Essentially, the key
      word here is ‘fraudulently’. You can legally drive a nail through a coin, paint
      it pink, melt it, or bend it into a pretzel – but the moment you try and use
      that coin as currency, you’re breaking the law. You can sell that altered coin
      as a collectable, but you can’t use it to buy a Snickers. You can gold-plate
      your cent-less V-nickel, but you can’t pass it with the intention of making the
      clerk think it’s a gold piece. You can mash your pennies in the cent squishier
      at the zoo, but don’t even think about buying penny candy with them ever again.
      Get the idea?

  • Blake

    Cool article, & nice rifle :-). Glad to read that she’s a competent & enthusiastic varminter as well &ltgrin&gt

    I guess air rifle shooters don’t wear eyepro as standard practice?

  • Fruitbat44

    Cool story. Okay, to be honest, target shooting leaves me cold; there are easier and cheaper ways to make holes in bits of paper.
    But . . .
    It takes a tremendous amount of self-discipline and dedication to excel at it and those are admirable qualities. Well done to Miss Imel.
    Oh and her funding her dreams by making those necklaces . . . that is seriously cute. :)

  • MadMonkey

    I’d buy a necklace but they don’t seem to be available.

  • 400×40

    A 361 at 11 years old is a very respectable score. She’s off to a great start. If she can improve by 5 points per year over the next 7 years, then she’ll be shooting with the best, including men.

    I hope she knows how important exercise is, and especially running. At the highest level, lack of top physical conditioning causes your body to becomes a serious distraction.

    I don’t think that too many people understand how physically and mentally demanding precision class shooting is. It sounds easy, but it’s super tough (if you hope to win).