The Suburbanite
  • Elizabeth Buerling shoots for dreams, aims for the Olympics

  • With a scholarship to Ohio State University and a trove of success in pistol shooting competitions in her posession, Green High School senior Elizabeth Buerling has her sights set on big things.

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  • Elizabeth Buerling has her biggest dreams in sight.
    And she’s aiming high.
    The Green High Senior began competitive shooting as a result of participating in the Tetrathlon, which involves running, swimming, horseback riding and shooting .
    “Shooting was not something I had done,” Elizabeth said, “and as I started to practice I found I enjoyed it a lot. Eventually, I lost interest in all the other events and concentrated on shooting.”
    Her involvement in shooting got her involved in competition pistol shooting. Eventually, this led her to try out for the Olympics at Camp Perry up by Sandusky.
    “On the first day of the try-outs I was happy with myself,” Elizabeth said. “But on the second day I fell flat on my face. I was below average and was not happy with that.”
    But Elizabeth was not discouraged by her showing at the Olympic trials.
    “I plan to try out for the next Olympic team, and hope I can make it,” she said.
    The interesting thing is that there is not a history of shooting in her background.
    “She doesn’t come from a family of hunters,” Elizabeth’s mother Cindy Buerling said. “This sport is unusual for us. The closest we have to a shooter in our family is her grandfather who was a Marine helicopter pilot in Korea.”
    Elizabeth’s pursuits and passion, though, have truly made her grandfather proud.
    “He knew Elizabeth had grit even as a little girl,” Cindy said. “He is so proud of all her accomplishments and loves the bragging rights she provides him.”
    But it’s not just grandpa who get to brag every now and again. Cindy said she is one of the first to share Elizabeth’s successes. In fact, when Elizabeth it was announced that Elizabeth was accepted to attend Ohio State University and join the school's pistol shooting team, Cindy was the first to let everyone know.
    “Pistol shooting has been an amazing sport for our daughter, affording her opportunities we never dreamed possible,” Cindy said. “Like any good sport she has learned lessons of hard work, dedication, perseverance and responsibility. And there is the added value in her being in a sport where she is in the minority.”
    Elizabeth has been able to excel in her field because of the support system that built up around her.
    “In our experience people have been very encouraging,” Cindy said. “Her shooting coach, Fred Totts, has taken her under his wing and has helped her to improve. He has dedicated so much of his time and energy into her training.
    “The shooting community has been so supportive and encouraging of all her endeavors,” Cindy added “We feel so fortunate to have The Canton McKinley gun club in our own back yard. The members of the club have all been so patient and kind with her training and experiences.”
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    Elizabeth started shooting on an air gun. Eventually, she moved up to a .22 caliber pistol. Then came a .45 caliber pistol.
    But for Elizabeth her .22 is her favorite
    “I love the my .22 pistol. It was my first gun, the first one I ever held.”
    Normally, she practices three times a week  with both pistols. Usually she will go through around 250 rounds of ammunition during practice. During the rest of the week she constantly practices with her air pistol. And while the price of ammunition is going up Elizabeth is lucky.
    “I have sponsors who pick up my match ammunition while we buy my practice ammunition,” Elizabeth said. “And my pistols are on loan from my sponsors.”
    Since Elizabeth is not 21 she cannot legally transport her pistols without an adult around to supervise them. This job falls to her mom or dad.
    Elizabeth recently was invited to participate in the prestigious Bianchi Cup Competition. This was a result of her placing first in her class at the NRA competition at Camp Perry. She won the bullseye  competition as the top junior contestant.
    But this competition is much different then she has been use to.
    “In the past I could take my time shooting at my target,” she said. “But in the Bianchi competition you are involved in combat shooting with a time limit. I am not used to that. In addition, I will be shooting with a 9mm pistol instead of my .45. The 9mm has less recoil then the .45.”
    To help her out in this area Todd Hart volunteered his expertise.
    “I’m proud that she chose me to help her with her combat shooting and holster work,” he said. “Her shooting ability are up to the standards this competition requires. However there is always room for improvement. She going to train hard over the next two months for this competition.”
    After her first session Elizabeth was a little frustrated.But she knows that it will take time and plans to master combat shooting before the competition.
    This attitude does not surprise Totts.
    “She is great to coach,” Totts said. “She gives me everything she has got to give. She is an above-average shooter but is not a braggart.
    “Shooting is a tough team sport. No one can help you with your individual team score. She normally performs well but when she is not shooting well she is not happy with herself. She doesn’t give up, she’s not a quitter. Liz has been a great kid to coach.”