Gary Anderson turned his passion for shooting into Olympic gold.
Born in Holdrege in 1939 and raised near Axtell, Anderson began his quest at an early age and eventually built a makeshift shooting range as a high school senior at Axtell.
After attending Nebraska for one year, Anderson joined the U.S. Army so he could pursue his Olympic dream. He wrote the commanding officer of the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit and included the scores he had been shooting on his own range.
But because they were higher than those of all but one member of the marksmanship unit, team leaders tossed the scores in a trash can. No one believed a Nebraska farm kid could shoot like that. Finally given a tryout, Anderson spent two years with the unit. In 1962, Anderson won four individual titles and set three world records at the World Shooting Championships in Cairo, Egypt, an event that had been dominated by Russian shooters.
After being discharged, Anderson enrolled at Hastings College, where he was a student when he won his 1964 Olympic gold medal in the 300-meter free-rifle event. His repeat victory at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City made Anderson the last of four Americans shooters to earn two golds.
Anderson later earned a degree from San Francisco Theological Seminary and considered becoming a minister. Instead, he was elected as a Nebraska state senator and represented the 37th District from 1972 to 1976. Today Anderson is director emeritus of the Civilian Marksmanship Program at Camp Perry near Port Clinton, Ohio, at the competition center that bears his name.
In 2001, the former Atlanta 500 Air Rifle/Wolf Creek 600 air rifle championship for junior shooters was renamed the Gary Anderson Invitational. The event is hosted the first weekend in December at the CMP Marksmanship Centers in Camp Perry and Anniston, Alabama.
Best moment as an athlete: Repeating as the 300-meter rifle Olympic gold medalist in 1968 in Mexico City. Anderson is the last of only four Americans in shooting history to earn gold medals in two Olympics. He also won that event in the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo. "When you win once," Anderson said, "you're the target from then on. To come back and win just as decisively as the first time is the moment I still remember best."
Anderson was No. 50 in the inaugural Nebraska 100 list in 2005. See more about the 2005 list »