A marksman from Mora has made the trek to “The Last Frontier,” where he’s won medals for his sharpshooting both in the U.S. and abroad.

Gavin Barnick, age 18, has begun his first year at the University of Alaska – Fairbanks, where he received a full ride scholarship. Currently UAF is ranked third in the nation by the Collegiate Rifle Coaches Association. On Friday and Saturday, Oct. 15 and 16, the team defeated Ohio State University, and Gavin ranked fifth overall among UAF shooters.

Gavin grew up outside of Mora. A home-school student, he was part of Mora High School’s track and field team and Future Farmers of America chapter. He has participated in shooting sports since joining Kanabec County 4-H in third grade, and in sixth grade won the Minnesota State Championship for air rifle. In late 2018 Gavin took part in the National Rifle Association’s four-position small-bore competition. He scored 786 out of a possible 800 points, breaking the 2002 record for his age group. In early 2019 Gavin again took part in the event and broke his own record by scoring 798.

Gavin’s current schedule includes international travel, his father Chad Barnick said. Gavin is a member of the Team USA Shooting Juniors; in March the team won nine medals at the 2021 El Salvador Junior Airgun Grand Prix, with Gavin earning a silver medal in the rifle competition. The International Shooting Sport Federation’s Junior World Championship took place in Lima, Peru in late September and early October; Gavin came home with three bronze medals.  

Chad said Gavin planned to try out for the 2020 Olympic team, but that was postponed due to COVID-19 concerns. When the trials came about, the top four finishers qualified for the next level; Gavin came in sixth. “He did very well in the trials,” said Chad. 

Two years ago at Olympic trials in Georgia, at age 16, Gavin finished with a score of 1170 out of 1200. The last 16-year-old to reach that score, he said, went on to win three Olympic medals and well over 10 World Cup competitions.

“You’re constantly learning in this sport. Even the world-record holders work on improving themselves,” Gavin said in a 2019 Kanabec County Times interview. “You’re always learning, trying to do better than you did yesterday, trying to improve one thing at a time.”

Chad echoes Gavin’s enthusiasm for the sport and avidly watches his son’s competition online. “We’re very proud of him,” Chad said. “He’s enjoying college, taking mostly online classes at this point. We’re looking forward to welcoming him home at Christmas.”

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