Senior Sets His Sights on Marksmanship


Photo courtesy Mark Wildman

Senior Drew Latos has developed his marksmanship skills since childhood to now earn a spot as one of the top shooters in Maryland. He has won events with stationary items as well as shooting discs flying at over 70 mph.

Elizabeth DiFonzo, Staff Writer

Most athletes perfect their skills through years of practice, which includes running through plays, running laps and completing intense physical drills to grow stronger at their sport. For senior Drew Latos, he has climbed to the top of his sport by standing still and taking steady aim with a firearm.

In his age group, Latos is ranked number one in Maryland for shooting, equally adept at hitting a stationary target or one moving through the air at 70 mph. This is an achievement that even life-long shooters consider impressive, especially if they’ve been in the sport fewer than 10 years.

“I started shooting when I was only nine years old,” Latos said. “My dad and his friends, Mark Wildman and Andrew Sprague got me into it. Once I tried it, I loved it. I started off at a very slow pace and just focused on learning the basics, and as I got older I began shooting competitively at local ranges. Then I was starting to win tournaments.”

Latos has traveled across the U.S. to places such as Texas, Chicago, New Jersey, Delaware and Virginia, earning respect and admiration from peers and veterans alike as he continues to win tournaments.

 Latos said he hopes that his success will earn him sponsorship opportunities in the future. Some of  Latos’ friends have been sponsored by Beretta, one of the biggest gun companies in the world, a company which Latos hopes to be sponsored by.

Sponsors provide clothing, free ammunition and specialty guns, as well as pay tournament entry fees which can range from $100-$200. Latos tries to make it to as many tournaments as possible because they are good practice and attract college scouts. Being sponsored will make it a lot easier to participate in all of the tournaments because costs are covered, Latos said.

“It is not a cheap sport,” Wildman said. “You have to buy the ammunition and the shotguns. Each box of ammunition is $5 for 25 shotgun shells. When Drew and I start to get ready for tournaments, we go out to practice and each shoot about 250 rounds in two hours, so the expense of the ammunition really starts to add up.”

Wildman has been shooting with Latos for nine years. He said that Latos is one of the best marksman he has ever seen. In shooting tournaments, participants shoot at clay discs called pigeons or “birds” that are launched into the air at 70 mph. In a recent 100 bird tournament, Latos shot at a total of 100 birds, hitting 96 of them successfully.

Wildman said that when he was growing up, there were more kids in his school who shot guns as a hobby. Over the years, however, the number of people that shoot for sport has decreased significantly, due to the fact that many people have negative feelings about guns, he said.

“People think that guns are bad, when really guns are not bad; they can be used for a sport. If you put a gun into the wrong person’s hands, that is when a gun can be bad. However, if you put a golf club into the wrong person’s hands, it can be just as bad,” Wildman said.

Latos’ other friend, Sprague, who has been shooting since he was young, said that the sport is not just about skill.

“It is mostly mental. Drew has grown mentally, physically and emotionally over time. That is what makes him a highly skilled shooter,” Sprague said.

Latos never feels a sense of pressure when stepping up to each shooting station, and is able to rise to the opportunity, separating him from others, Wildman said.

“Drew has an incredible ability that he was born with to excel under pressure. For a lot of athletes it is the opposite, but Drew really has an amazing talent,” he added.

For now, Latos is content to compete at tournaments around the country. He continues to excel and be noticed as one of the best shooters in the state.

“When you watch a really good shooter shoot, it is just amazing, and Drew has all of that. He is so fun to watch,” Wildman said.