Specialist (SPC) Dan Lowe grew up with an interest in both shooting and the Army.
“I started shooting when I was 11 years old and I’ve stuck with it for almost 12 years now,” he explained. “My family has a history of service too and it’s definitely something that was in my mind in my teenage years.”
In 2014, SPC Lowe found a way to combine those interests by joining the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit (USAMU), which works on the research and development of small-arms and teaches soldiers marksmanship skills.
As a shooting instructor in the unit, SPC Lowe instructs civilians and other soldiers on marksmanship. In exchange for his service to the Army, the USAMU provides him the opportunity to train and compete in international shooting competitions.
For SPC Lowe, his role as a shooting instructor helps him as a competitive shooter. “There’s a lot of lessons I’ve learned from coaching and it’s always reminding me of the fundamentals,” he said. “It’s easy to get wrapped up in the sport complex and go into a lot of intricate details to shoot , but coaching, especially lower level athletes, you have to focus on the basics.”
SPC Lowe’s Army experience also helps his mental approach to shooting, a vital element for a competitive shooter. “I’ve worked a lot with different mental drills, a lot of visualization,” he said.
“What makes or breaks most days for a lot of shooters is just the amount of confidence they bring to the line,” SPC Lowe continued. “Confidence in themselves, in their training and in their equipment. Being a soldier here at the USAMU, I have the utmost confidence in my training and my equipment.”
That confidence helped SPC Lowe qualify for the 2016 Olympics at his first Olympic Trials. “It didn’t sink in for the longest time,” he said of making his first Olympic team. “That was the most amazing feeling in my life, just a whole mixture of pride, joy, so much happiness.”
Now set to make his Olympic debut in the 10m air rifle and 50m rifle three positions, SPC Lowe is excited to experience the Games. “I’ve heard all kinds of stories from all the Olympians that have coached me,” he said. “The competition is going to be world class…It’s going to be a really good learning experience for me.”
SPC Lowe has reached the highest level of his sport. As he prepares to compete at the Olympics, he realizes the role the USAMU has played in his success.
“It’s been nothing but good changes,” he said of the USAMU’s influence on him. “Every day I’m surrounded by people who inspire me.”