RIO DE JANEIRO (Army News Service) -- Before competing in the men's 25-meter Rapid Fire Pistol shooting event at the 2016 Olympic Games, Sgt. 1st Class Keith Sanderson had to rebuild his gun to replace a faulty trigger.
"It's an electronic trigger, so sometimes when they break there's nothing you can do," said Sanderson, 41, a native of San Antonio who is stationed at Fort Carson, Colorado, with the U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program.
Sanderson donned his gunsmith cap to earn 290 points on the first qualification round on Friday, Aug. 12, just one point shy of making the cutoff to advance to the final. He repeated that total on the second day of qualification, Saturday, Aug. 13, which left him three places shy of advancing to the final.
"[The trigger] was dead dead, and I thought, 'Well, better now than tomorrow,' but it would have been a lot better yesterday with another day of practice,'" said Sanderson. "I hate to say that memorizing a trigger is important, but it kind of is in rapid fire."
Ultimately, he finished ninth. It was his third time competing in the Olympic Games.
"I didn't just switch guns before the competition," Sanderson said. "I put the barrel, grip, primer and bolt from my primary gun on my backup gun," Sanderson explained. "Despite all that, I do feel like I went into the match very healthy -- the strongest I've ever been as far as shooting."
Sanderson remains proud of his achievements, both at the games and along his path to his spot on the Olympic team. His position in the World Class Athlete Program allows him to preparing for international competitions, but it also lets him to serve his country in other ways.
Soldier-athletes serve as positive role models for America's youth, he said. They promote the concept that, with hard work and discipline, you can achieve gold medal results.
"We're not pro athletes," Sanderson said. "We don't make millions of dollars. We do more than just train for the Olympics."
Sanderson recently spent a week at Parris Island, South Carolina, where he worked with primary marksmanship instructors and shooting range coaches at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot.
He also recently provided primary marksmanship instruction in rifle and pistol, along with optics training, for Soldiers at Fort Carson.
Before that, Sanderson visited Fort Gordon, Georgia with WCAP wrestlers Sharon Jacobson and Jermaine Hodge and assisted with the shooting events at the local Best Warrior Competitions.
"We're taking the skills and training that we learn in WCAP and we teach them to Soldiers," Sanderson said. "We show them how they can apply the lessons we've learned in competition to their daily jobs and to the war fighting effort."
Sanderson likes to use three-time Olympic Race Walker John Nunn as an example.
"We have a guy in WCAP who can walk 50 kilometers faster than anyone in Special Forces can run it," Sanderson said. "We have all these skills sets that are not all that different. A lot of it can apply to the regular Army, like how to train properly."
The World Class Athlete Program also enhances Soldier resilience, he said, by demonstrating the benefits of the Army Performance Triad: healthy nutrition, sleep and exercise habits.
"[The program] just embodies that, and this is our way of trying to capitalize on that and give those lessons back," Sanderson said.
"It's more like a lifestyle. Everything you do is disciplined, and everything you do you get in a habit of thinking about how this is going to impact you and your performance."
you do you get in a habit of thinking about how this is going to impact you and your performance."