Sure-shot D.C. officer Callahan takes aim at medal

BARCELONA, Spain -- Someone is always looking for a blood-and-guts story, the kind where Libby Callahan, her cap backward, sits atop a 20-story building and snipes a felon 200 yards away.

It seems like a natural connection. Callahan is a 17-year veteran of Washington's police department. She also is one of America's best competitive shooters.


"I don't have any of those bloody scenario stories. Actually, I've never had to use my gun," said Callahan, 40, of Upper Marlboro, Md., smiling. "The worst scenario I ever had was when two guys stole meat out of one store, and stole something out of another store.

"The manager of the second store chased down one suspect and I apprehended the other," said Callahan. "He never even hit me, but he was very mad. I think he was embarrassed that he had to go back to his 'hood and tell people he got busted by a short, white, female police officer."


Today, Callahan will trade in the blue uniform of Washington's finest for the red-white-and-blue warm-ups of the United States when she participates in the air pistol event of the 1992

Summer Olympics


Callahan, who won two World Cup medals (silver in the sport pistol and bronze in the air pistol) on April 12, was also a prime candidate to participate in the sport pistol, but she had trouble with the trigger on her .22 hand gun during the Olympic trials and failed to qualify.


"Those things just happen," said Callahan. "A shooter becomes very familiar with her weapon, and once it seems just a little strange, it makes a big difference. I was a little angry, but it's over now. You try not to get too high or too low because it can drain you."

That's vintage Callahan. Never too emotional, always reserved. She has used the approach in both her shooting and job.

Shooting is a sport that requires the calmest of nerves. Callahan doesn't smoke and drinks little alcohol. She doesn't consume any caffeine or sugar the day before or of competition. In the sport pistol, she has scored a personal best of 584 out of 600 points, and a 382 out of 400 in the air pistol.

"One of the keys to shooting is to relax," said Callahan. "For instance, a lot of people don't realize that you don't breathe when you shoot because it causes movement. They don't realize that shooting takes a lot of endurance. You need to have a low heart and pulse rate."

Callahan has a cross-country ski machine that she works out on every day. She also does a lot of repetitions with free weights, not to mention the daily two to four hours of shooting.

The routine has caused a lot of aching muscles in her right shoulder and upper back.

"I'm the type of person who likes to accomplish things," said Callahan. "Once I get started, I don't like for it to get the best of me. My goal is to win a goal medal, and sometimes you have to make sacrifices to get one. I'll be very disappointed if I don't get the gold."