PORT CLINTON (WTVG) - A local teen is hoping to eventually land a spot on the United States Paralympic Tteam. Louis Slauterbeck has only been shooting air rifles for a year and the high school student is already racking up some impressive wins.
Louis was diagnosed with spina bifida before he was even born. He's a freshman at Port Clinton High School. Later this month he's heading to a competition at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado to take aim at making the Junior Paralympic Team.
Louis is a very good shot, "You have to have a good mindset, be level-headed and have good hand-eye coordination."
His mother Adria says it all began when he was a young boy, "It started with a Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas. He's always had a fascination with guns and the marksmanship of it."
Adria says Louis was diagnosed with spina bifida while in utero and had surgery before he was born, "He has myelomeningocele which is the most severe form of spina bifida. We were told he would be in a wheelchair, that he may need a brain stint and possibly a feeding tube."
Louis proved them wrong. And in his short precision air rifle shooting career, he's won a lot. Michelle Woods is his coach, "Louis is very good and has a lot of potential."
That potential is taking him to the competition at the Olympic Training Center. Woods says he has a good shot at one day being on the team, "It may not be this year, but it will be soon."
Just to give you an idea of the precision involved in this sport, the target is the size of a quarter. The 10-ring is even smaller. It's about the size of a pencil head. And you stand 33 feet away from the target.
The pellets fired from the air rifles move so fast you can't even see them,"A small lead pellet comes out of the air rifles on this type of range. They travel about 600 feet in a second or less.."
Even with all his early success, Louis is humble about his accomplishments He's says he's now setting his sights on how to get better, "What is your secret to success? A lot of practice and a good coach."
His mother says that attitude certainly hits the mark when it comes to making his dreams a reality, "I signed him up here so he could have fun and be part of a team. Now we're talking about the possibility of him representing the United States in something. That's very exciting.There are no words to describe how proud I am."
Louis will compete in Colorado starting Easter weekend. If he does well, he could go on to an event in Germany this summer.
On a side note, while we were at the Camp Perry air range a local woman who is on the United States Paralympic Team was practicing.
Taylor Farmer is from Castalia and she has competed all over the world. Woods says Taylor has been a great role model for Louis.