Eric Curavo first began shooting when he was 9 years old and has been competing in shooting events since he was 11.
"It's what I'm good at,” Curavo said. “It's my hobby. I love competing. I love competition and I love winning.” Now 18, the 2008 Lake High School graduate made his mark July 20-31 at the 101st National Matches at Camp Perry near Port Clinton.
Curavo won the under-21 title in the seventh annual Rimfire Sporter match, and also won the under-21 title at the third annual M-1 Carbine match.
“I owe all my shooting stuff to my grandfather, Cliff Falls,” Curavo said.
“He's the one who's taken me shooting for the past nine years. He likes to shoot, but he doesn't hunt. We shoot in my aunt's backyard or at the Sandusky County Sportsman's Club in Gibsonburg.” Curavo said he started to become proficient in shooting at age 13, after competing for two years. This was the third straight year he won some form of under-21 nationals title at Camp Perry.
“Last year I finished 25th overall out of 540 people" at the National Matches, Curavo said.
Last month he won the under-21 Rimfire Sporter match title with a score of 585-24X.
"You basically use a .22 (caliber) rifle,” Curavo said. “It¹s any Rimfire .22 that weighs under 7.5 pounds and you can use any special equipment. It's meant to get more people involved in shooting sports. It's probably the lowest cost (event) of all of them."
Curavo competed against nearly 400 shooters from all over the country in the Rimfire Sporter match.
"The guy next to me was from California,” he said. “I thought I did pretty good. I finished two points behind first place (overall). I tied Jack Cleland, of Cleland's Outdoor World. He's a state champion and I was excited about (tying him). He's probably the best shooter from Toledo that I know of. I beat his son and they're kind of my rivals, even though they don’t know it.” While taking first in the under-21 M-1 Carbine match, Curavo placed 64th overall with a score of 344. He said he fared much better in 2007.
"It was just a bad year, a bad day,” Curavo said. “I shot a little high in one of my positions."
Curavo said the National Matches uses three standard shooting positions - standing (off hand), sitting and prone. Curavo said off hand is normally his best position, “but this year it cost me.” “I would have won overall no problem,” he said. “This year my best position was sitting. I knew it was my weak spot so I practiced it more than anything else.
"Overall, this was the best year I¹ve ever had. I¹ve never won two under-21 trials in the same year. I have improved a lot."
Curavo, who will major in political science and business this fall as a freshman at Ashland University, has plans to start an Olympic-style rifle team at AU.
Ohio State and Akron University are the only two universities in Ohio that have varsity shooting teams, Curavo said.
"I'm taking the marksmanship club, which is made up of guys who like to shoot,” he said. “After we get it built up, I'll try to get it turned into a varsity sport in 2009. The Ashland alumni donate plenty of money to go towards club sports.
“It will take some convincing to make it a varsity sport. But if the interest is there, they'll do anything."
Next year Curavo said he will try out for the national under-21 high-power team.
"It's a team sponsored by a world champion from Alabama,” he said. “It¹s where the best under-21 shooters compete in high-powered matches at various distances, and we travel all over the world to shoot. I think they had 24 shooters make the team this year."