Give Me 5: Olympic Biathlete and Pro Shooter Lanny Barnes

Olympic Biathlon Biathlete Lanny Barnes
Courtesy Lanny Barnes

Lanny Barnes, (a.k.a. Lanny “Oakley”) is a three-time Olympic Biathlete, professional shooter, artist and public speaker 

1. We’re eager to know more about you. Please give us a glimpse into your journey with firearms.

My whole life has revolved around the use of firearms. It is how my family puts food on the table through hunting, how I pay the bills through working in the firearms industry and how I have represented my country in three Olympics, over 30 World Championships and become a World Champion in multiple shooting disciplines. When I say that shooting is my biggest passion, it literately has influenced everything I do in a positive way.

2. What two pieces of advice would you give someone interested in learning how to shoot or buy their first gun? 

If you have a fear of firearms or the kick or noise, treat it no differently than you would when you have overcome any fear in your life. Examples such as speaking in front of a crowd, fear of heights, etc. You can use the experience you have in overcoming those fears to overcome this one and you will have fun and be empowered doing it. Shooting a firearm can be so much fun and so incredibly empowering. Dive in with both feet. You won’t regret it.

As far as purchasing your first firearm. Reach out to friends and family who may have firearms and ask them to let you try them out to see what you like and what fits you. Treat it like buying a pair of shoes. You wouldn’t buy a pair of heels that were too big for your feet; you might have a hard time walking.

The same goes for a firearm. If you find something that fits you and is comfortable to shoot, you’re more apt to practice with it and enjoy it.

Olympic Biathlon Lanny Barnes
Courtesy Lanny Barnes

3. What is your favorite piece of equipment (related to firearms) that you own? Why do you like it? 

Probably my UpLULA. It makes loading so much easier and quicker. With that, I can load magazines in half the time, so it gives me more time on the range and less time loading mags.

4. What was something someone told you (or that you read) that significantly influenced your life?

Kay Miculek told me a story about how she helped Lena have a breakthrough in her shooting. She told her to just focus on each individual target and go one-for-one instead of the entire stage and the overall speed.

That helped Lena have an incredible breakthrough in her shooting, and it helped me as well. I adopted that same philosophy and have not only been more accurate, but smoother and that’s translated into faster times as well.

You can learn a lot from incredible shooters like Kay and Lena Miculek.

Olympic Biathlon Lanny Barnes
Courtesy Lanny Barnes

5. What do you wish you knew about getting involved with firearms right from the beginning of your journey? 

I wish I had focused on the psychology of shooting sooner. People say that shooting is 90% mental, but we rarely focus on the mental aspect of shooting.

I picked up on this about a quarter of the way through my career and dove head first into learning as much about psychology as I could, but I wish I had started with it right away. If you master the mind, you can master anything 😉.

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