|Born:||May 16, 1984|
|Event(s):||10m air pistol|
In March, at the U.S. air gun Olympic Trials held in Colorado Springs, Colo., Brian Beaman finished in second place to 2004 Olympian Jason Turner. With just one quota for the men's 10m air pistol competition available, Beaman's apparent Olympic hopes shifted to qualifying at the smallbore trials in mid-May in Ft. Benning, Ga. His fifth-place finish at those U.S. Trials in free pistol were actually a blessing in disguise, as Turner won the event, meaning he held two quota spots. Turner held on to his smallbore qualification while still being able to compete in air pistol in Beijing but gave up the quota he earned in March. That put that quota -- two months after the fact -- into Beaman's hands. "It was a mix of highs and lows," Beaman said. "I was giving that smallbore competition everything I had. ... It was kind of a mix-match of emotions for three days."
Shooting of a different kind
Beaman did not start his career in shooting until a late age. In fact, he has been an avid archer since the age of three -- "That was my first love and still is," he said -- when he and his family (Linda, his mom; Melissa, his sister; Dan, his father) would go shooting as a family. Brian earned endorsements as a product tester for three different companies beginning in his freshman year in high school. He would have had Olympic aspirations, Beaman said, but his event of compound bow is not competed at the Olympic Games, only FITA international competitions (recurve bow is the only bow used at Olympic competition).
After high school, Beaman went to South Dakota State, studying in agriculture; after two years, he transferred to Jacksonville State to shoot rifle for their NCAA team as there had been no nearby archery ranges. The change in equipment also brought upon a change in lifestyle as Beaman had to give up his endorsements to compete in college. Before Beaman had long to adjust to that change, it was recommended to him, right before the 2004 U.S. Olympic Trials, that he should shoot pistol. "When I first started shooting pistol ... my goals have changed so much since then," Beaman said. His first goal, following the 2004 Trials, was to make the U.S. National Team. He did that after three months of shooting. His next goal was to make the travel team. He did that. Then less than four years after first learning how to compete in the event, Beaman set his goals toward the Olympics. "It's such a great thrill," he said. "It's come so far so fast. But now it's like ... now I want to win. ... We've had kind of a drought in medals (in precision pistol). I want to help change that."
Counting on his teammates
Luckily for Beaman, even as a newcomer, he'll enter with plenty of absorbed experience that includes multiple multiple-time Olympians (e.g. fellow pistol shooter Jason Turner). "They're getting me ready for the circus," Beaman said. "It's pretty small (in terms of crowds) at international events. They've told me (for the Olympics), ‘It's going to blow your mind.' ... They've said, for my first time there, to just enjoy it the best you can."
Getting accustomed to it
Beaman should be helped by the fact that in April, he went to Beijing for the Olympic test event. Though his 57th place finish in air pistol was hardly encouraging, Beaman was happy with the trip and got all the tourist-y things out of the way. He visited the Great Wall, the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square. Most important of all, he got to know Beijing and the shooting range to help with his comfort level in August. "It was interesting," he said. "I'm used to nothing but blue skies and no people in South Dakota. ... It was a bit of a culture shock. ... But the people there were extremely friendly." What was as impressive as his hosts' hospitality were the ranges where Beaman and his teammates competed. "Everything inside was perfect and clean," he said. "The lighting was perfect. ... There was nothing, as a shooter, I would change."
Ready for the pressure
Beaman, after qualifying for the Olympics, found himself on a plane to compete for the U.S. at a World Cup in Milan. Though he did not make the finals, Beaman shot 10 targets better than he had in Beijing and had actually tied for the last finals spot, but lost on the tiebreaker.
A part of his family's Central Parks Grain Farm, Beaman has been involved in farming most of his life. He plans on inheriting his farm from his dad, Dan, and passing it down to the next generation (Brian and his wife Kari, a smallbore rifle shooter, will be waiting until after Beijing before they discuss the next part in their future family). But, despite his close ties with his family, Brian will be going to Beijing alone this year. While the Olympics may be a once-in-a-lifetime event, the grain harvest is a once-a-year necessity that can't be put off. Of course, it will fall during the Beijing Games. "This year, it's been hard," Brian said. "I've put the burden entirely on my dad. ... This year alone, I missed pretty much all of my work," because of shooting. He half-jokingly admitted he owes his dad plenty of make-up work next season.
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