Location: Santa Fe
Written by: Ilissa Gilmore Roswell Daily Record
As a New Mexico Military Institute cadet, Bob Thornburg won first place in three individual junior pistol matches in the 1960s and also was a member of the school’s team when it competed in a state junior championship.
Decades late, he returns to Roswell, seeking high marks in shooting events at the Senior Olympics.
However, Thornburg, 64, has traded in traditional guns for air rifles and pistols.
This will be his second year competing in the games. Thornburg, of Santa Fe, competed in the 2012 games in Las Cruces and won all four matches in his age group.
Thornburg learned to shoot from his father, who was raised on a ranch. His mother was an exhibition shooter.
“It was in my blood,” he said. Thornburg received his first gun at age 9, a .22 rifle.
A few years ago, he became interested in air guns at the insistence of a friend and said he’s been hooked ever since.
“They’re really accurate high quality guns,” he said. “They make some pretty sophisticated air guns these days.”
The semi-retired electrical contractor does a fair amount of practice shooting at home.
“I just love the technology and the competition: it’s exciting,” he said. “For me, it’s about target shooting and competition, that’s what I like about it now.
“Just the challenge is exciting to me: you always want to be a little better. You always want to do a little better than you did the last time.”
He said he also looks forward to the camaraderie.
“I just enjoy this kind of event because you have a lot of people who compete and get together – you don’t have to take it too seriously, if you mess up. It’s about getting together with people and sharing something you like to do.”
He has befriended several of his competitors and together, they’ve started seeking out competition to “keep us going between events,” he said.
When he’s not shooting guns, Thornburg is shooting photos of landscapes and wildlife. He also has a small business selling snaps to shops around Santa Fe.
Another hobby of Thornburg’s is record collecting, which he said consumes a lot of his time.
A former big game hunter, Thornburg said “when I’m in Roswell, I will be hunting for records.”