Fort Benning soldier shoots for another gold medal at 2012 Olympic Games

benw@ledger-enquirer.comJuly 26, 2012 

Before pulling the trigger on his Beretta DT10 shotgun, Sgt. Vincent Hancock prays a little prayer to calm his nerves and help him not to worry about action on the skeet range.

"If I can run my routine and do the things I'm suppose to do, things I have trained out here all my life basically, I can go out there and leave the rest up to God," Hancock said. "I know he's going to take care of me. I know as long as I stay out of the way, my mind, my body and soul will take care of everything else."

Faith played a role in helping Hancock win a gold medal in the 2008 Olympics. His routine won't change Monday and Tuesday when he competes in men's skeet at the 2012 Olympics. He is one of seven soldiers from the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit at Fort Benning competing in London. The opening ceremony kicks off today at 9 p.m. London time and will be broadcast at 7:30 p.m. EDT on NBC-38.

It took a lot of hard work to become an Olympian, but Hancock said there is nothing he could have accomplished without God on his side. Faith is credited with helping the soldier get better every day.

After all the training ends and he's on the clock to shoot clay targets hurled at 65-mph, Hancock knows there are only a few things he can control.

Hancock, 23, of Eatonton, Ga., was just 19 years old and newly married to wife, Rebekah, in his first Olympics.

"I really didn't have much to worry about," he said. "That's what I had been working on since I was 12 years old. I didn't have much to think about. I just went out and did it."

The Olympic experience and knowing what to expect will help Hancock, he said.

"I think that is going to help me quite a bit," he said. "I really want to get back there on that stage again, mainly because it's unlike anything in the world."

Shooting has been a part of Hancock's life since he was about 10. That's when his father and coach, Craig Hancock, put a shotgun in his hand. He is also coached by a family friend, Frank Thompson.

"My brother and my father were both competitive shooters when I was growing up," he said. "So I have been around shooting pretty much as long as I can remember."

As a shooter who also represents the Army, Hancock said he tells everybody how shooting is a safe sport. It has had fewer accidents than ping-pong and it's a good sport for people who aren't as athletic.

"You still have great athletes," he said. "An athlete is defined to me as a person that is willing to go out there and work harder than anybody else. That is exactly what we are here."

After the Olympics, Hancock said he hopes to compete in two more Olympics through 2020, but he won't be wearing Army green.

"This will be my last Olympics in the U.S. Army," he said. "The Army has been a great founding base for me to grow as a person, to get more determined. Relating the soldiering skills I learned in basic training at various schools I have gone to over the last six years have completely changed me as a person."

In high school, Hancock described himself as a whimsical guy. Now, he is a very determined, task-oriented person.

"I can only thank the Army for giving me that," he said.

He'll leave the Army at the end of November to start Hancock Shooting Academy in Eatonton, where his father has been developing a range. The academy will work with shooters from around the world, including Hong Kong, Korea and Japan.

"There is a vast market out there across the world we are going to be tapping into," he said.

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