By Serena Juchnowski, CMP Feature Writer
Defining a goal and working towards it – Zevin Linse of Kent, Wash., has spent the last five years improving himself as a marksman, and he is not stopping any time soon.
Zevin shoots on the Washington Warriors junior highpower service rifle team, but the 11th grader also shoots air rifle as part of his school’s Marine Corps JROTC marksmanship program, uses smallbore as winter cross-training and has embarked on an adventure into long range.
In 2018, in an unusual set of circumstances, Zevin was appointed head coach of his JROTC air rifle program after the primary instructor left. Though another instructor has since come on board, Zevin’s up-to-date knowledge on rules and ability to pass what he has learned on to the newer shooters has proven extremely valuable.
The Linse family is an outdoors one but did not have a competitive shooting background. Zevin recalls plinking with a .22 at his family’s cabin with his two sisters and parents as well as hunting with his dad.
A family friend who happened to be a junior coach suggested Zevin try highpower around the same time his parents discovered the Cascade Shooting Facilities junior program. Curious about the opportunity, Zevin soon found himself more involved than he could have ever imagined.
“I do a lot less hunting than I used to,” he said. “I did like hunting, but I think the thing I liked most about it was just shooting, I liked marksmanship. So once I started competitive shooting, I realized ‘Oh, this was the part that I really liked.’”
In 2015, Zevin journeyed from Washington State to Camp Perry, Ohio, for the first time to shoot in the National Matches.
“It [was] really crazy seeing, especially the first couple years I was there, how good juniors [can] be,” he said. “I was just looking at the other juniors in Washington, and I was like ‘Wow, they’re crazy.’”
He added, “Something that contributed to that was that Luke Rettmer was one of the people on the team, and he’s a fantastic shooter. He was someone who I never even thought I could dream to shoot like. But then seeing there’s even people who could beat him at Perry, it was crazy to me.”
Though his father was the one to introduce him to hunting and to shooting, Zevin’s mother Omayra Linse was the one to fall in love with competitive shooting – competing as a member of the Washington adult team and traveling to Camp Perry to compete alongside her son.
Zevin commented, “I wouldn’t have viewed it as very different if it was my dad or my mom who started doing that with me…but I do notice that usually it’s a lot more dads who would be shooting with their kids.”
It was Zevin’s eldest sister’s involvement with JROTC that introduced him to it. Zevin admitted, “I’m doing it mostly for the marksmanship…that’s why I first went into it and that’s my main commitment in there I guess, to be furthering myself in marksmanship and then furthering my peers now in marksmanship.”
This young man’s commitment both to the sport and to sharing his knowledge with others point to Zevin’s dream – to join the Army Marksmanship Unit’s Service Rifle Team.
“As I started hearing more about them [AMU], and it was about the same time that I started getting a lot better at shooting service rifle…I was like ‘Wow, this is actually something I can strive for’ rather than just ‘Oh wow, those are really good shooters,’” he said.
He went on, “Once I made the distinction that it was something that I was capable of, I really ended up going hard-core and trying to [get there].”
Since setting this goal at the age of 15, Zevin has done all in his power to improve his skills and mental game.
“Last year when I was 16, I was able to go Distinguished as well as get my high master card for both mid-range and across the course.”
He also set an NRA national junior record on the MR-65 target, a 500-yard target that simulates 600 yards, with a score of 200-13x. What means more to Zevin is his ability to improve and to isolate mistakes so that he can learn from them.
“As of recent… I was able to shoot a score of 793-31x on an 80-shot course. And it’s one of the biggest things that, in my mind, I’ve been able to do…I was really happy with it and I was happy because I knew I was capable of getting higher scores than that too. I could verify exactly where I could have picked up points.
“I would just like to keep working my way up, as far as I can, before I age out,” he said.
Though endowed with some natural ability, Zevin’s daily time on the air rifle range with JROTC has definitely supplemented his highpower practice. Zevin joined his high school’s JROTC program his freshman year and competes in sporter air rifle shooting from the standing, kneeling and prone positions at 10 meters, arriving early to school every day to practice.
“It’s really helped advance my service rifle scores because I was just getting so much practice out of it, and it’s also because, in air rifle, the pellets are moving a lot slower than a round would in service rifle, so you need to have a lot more follow-through and be really careful with your trigger pull,” he explained. “It’s definitely got some different difficulties to it that really helped get my service rifle scores up.”
Most devoted to service rifle and intrigued by long range, Zevin plans to expend most of his energy on these two disciplines. Having gone Distinguished by age 16, Zevin hopes to break as many junior National Records as he can before he ages out.
Another goal? To be the first junior to shoot a perfect 800 in an 80-shot service rifle match.
“So far, I’ve been able to clean every single [stage], only separately,” Zevin reported.
It is not all about the titles, though titles set a concrete goal that Zevin can push himself towards.
“I can’t really exactly nail what my favorite thing about [shooting] is…it makes me happy, I feel calm when I’m shooting and I just really enjoy it honestly,” he admitted. “It’s…what I want to be doing most of the time.”
Much of Zevin’s perspective on self-betterment comes from his time coaching.
“It can be a really discouraging sport, especially in the beginning. And when I’ve been helping the new shooters on the team, seeing them get frustrated – it’s reminded me how frustrated it used to make me,” he said. “But nowadays, I couldn’t imagine if I wasn’t a shooter. This is one of the main things in my life right now, and so even though I was that frustrated in the beginning, now I am where I am, and I’m really happy with it.”
Tenacity, ambition, humility and passion – these have largely been the ingredients that have led to Zevin’s current success and will hopefully continue to help him as he pursues his dreams and mentors others.
The Civilian Marksmanship Program is a federally chartered 501 (c) (3) non-profit corporation. It is dedicated to firearm safety and marksmanship training and to the promotion of marksmanship competition for citizens of the United States. For more information about the CMP and its programs, log onto www.TheCMP.org.