Craig Grau: Locked and loaded
Craig Grau/The Explorer, Jimmy Vincent Gibson III (left) and Austin Keene combined for a high-powered duo of youth skeet promotion last weekend at Marksman Pistol Institute, 1280 W. Prince Road.

If the name Jimmy Vincent Gibson III rings ambitious, then the round fits the chamber.

The 17-year-old claims nativity to a Texas outdoor firing range, strolls around his retail job with a pistol stuck to his hip, and aims for a 2012 Olympic Games skeet slot.

Most of his fellow Canyon Del Oro juniors just want a car.

But Gibson, who spent last Saturday tending customers at his grandmother’s Prince Road gun shop, ranks 54th nationally in trap shooting, downing 84.66 percent of the clays crossing his sights, according to USA Shooting’s Web site.

If you’re expecting ego, you’ll have to shout “Pull!” yourself. Gibson, slated to shoot at a Tuesday meet in Colorado Springs, Colo., offered only poker-faced butterflies on his chances.

“I’m nervous as hell. I’m really stressed at losing,” Gibson said, plainly. “But ‘I need to win’ is the wrong attitude. I should be going to have fun.”

His admission elicited surprise. Gibson — whose unblinking eyes fasten on yours like he’s explaining your shiny new traffic ticket — carries himself with a deputy’s poise.

The national ranking needs work he said, if he’s going to launch birdshot at the Royal Artillery Barracks four years from now.

After Gibson separated his shoulder during a bit of poolside roughhousing the night before a match last year, he’s been out of form. The injury led to a case of minor burnout, which could prove competitively fatal in a sport of pure repetition.

Chasing Olympic glory, Gibson focuses on skeet’s international variant — 75 mph targets streaking at twice the sport’s domestic rate — where the mental game separates gold from lead. Again, he deadpanned his shortcomings.

“The mental aspect is what myself and a lot of shooters lack,” Gibson said. “So that’s where my focus is.”

If Gibson appears to lack anything, though, it’s not focus.

Shooting or not, he’s graduating a year early in 2009, before cracking political science and business books at Pima — which could lead to law school, Gibson explained, schematic-like.

But first the native Texan plans to enter politics at 18 and win a small-caliber local office,

ambitiously posing himself as a centrist targeting second-amendment issues.

Ever-optioned, Gibson also wants to follow the family vein and open a firearms training facility “to break down the negative opinions people get from TV and the media.”

Already, he’s sighting in the next generation of shooters.

Twelve-year-old Marana youngster Austin Keene hung with Gibson to promote youth skeet at the store, chatting suavely enough with a reporter that his mother rolled her eyes and walked away from their raffle tickets.

As Gibson’s protégé, Keene took second in the Scholastic Clays Target Program’s grades-5-and-under rookie division, scoring a 135 of 300, on March 29 in Phoenix.

While his mentor had been shooting since age 9, Keene wouldn’t be outdone. He explained that mom traded a binky for his first toy cap gun — which soon led to baby-bore .410 shotguns.

“I’m pretty happy with how that trade’s worked out,” Keene said.

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