In a few weeks, a local business owner and member of the USA Shooting Team will go for a goal he didn’t get the chance to finish last year: bringing home a gold medal from the Olympics.
Shooting runs in Brian Burrows’ family, passed down to him all the way from his grandfather. He grew up shooting in California, and it stuck with him even as he started his recreational business, Ironwood Axe Throwing, in Denton almost two years ago. Now, in a matter of weeks, he’ll finally be representing both his old home and new one — as well as his country — at the Tokyo Olympics.
The past few years have been a whirlwind for Burrows, with his upcoming trip to Tokyo the latest addition to the list. He opened his Denton ax-throwing business in December 2019, qualified for the Olympics last year and got married just a few months ago. The COVID-19 pandemic has complicated all of those to varying degrees, with his business forced to close temporarily and the 2020 Olympics postponed.
“Usually, life moments happen a little bit at a time, but they’re happening all at once,” Burrows said. “It’s kind of a crazy time in my life right now. It’s been interesting to navigate all this.”
Last year’s postponement of the games was an emotional roller coaster for Burrows, who grappled with what it truly meant to be an Olympian. But now, it’s only a matter of weeks before he finally gets the chance to compete in two different trap shooting events, one as an individual and one as part of a team.
“My goal is the gold medal, of course, like everybody else,” Burrows said. “I think I’m shooting the best I’ve shot in my life right now. … My coach and I have been practicing to get ready for this moment. There’s not much more that I can do.”
In the international version of the trap shooting events, Burrows and his competitors will fire shotguns at moving 4-inch-wide targets. Those targets are launched at speeds between 65 to 70 miles per hour, and at different angles. Because it’s an outdoor event, Burrows said environmental elements will play a factor as well, even down to the region’s humidity. Put succinctly, the event’s concept is straightforward — although its execution is anything but.
“Practice and years of experience — that’s kind of what it takes to get good at it,” said Burrows, who added he’s shot over a million rounds in total. “In any sport or event there’s certain techniques … it’s the little things I’m working on right now.”
Those years of experience have made for a decorated list of achievements in Burrows’ time as a competitor, including 2019’s gold medal performance at the Pan American Games, which qualified Team USA for the Olympics. While bringing home another gold on the biggest stage possible is the goal, just being there at all has a special meaning.
“First off, I’m representing the United States of America, and I thought about this moment for almost two decades,” Burrows said. “I’m from California and now I live in Denton. I love where I’m from and I wouldn’t change that. … I’m very proud to represent all these places in America, and America.”
Due to Tokyo’s coronavirus state of emergency, this year’s games will be held without spectators — a restriction that includes the competitors themselves.
“We just kind of have to roll with the Olympic committee,” Burrows said. “We’re not allowed to go watch other events. … We’re very limited with our movements. It’s going to be a different Olympic experience, but I’m still very excited.”
A full list and schedule of this year’s shooting events can be found on the official Olympics website.