Baylor Brooks is a master. And he's only 13.
Brooks, the son of Tom Brooks and Tonya Prosise, is your typical Henderson Junior High eighth-grader-to-be. With one big exception.
Brooks has already been rated as a master shooter based on points gathered for awards won, he already has more awards than his father can find room to display and he has already struck gold twice in the Junior Olympics.
Brooks, quiet by nature, is not so when the subject turns to shooting. He's even earned a little celebrity status by appearing on Blue Collar Adventures, an NBC Sports outdoors show produced by Stephenville resident Jay Presti, as their "youth expert," and is sponsored by and promotes products for BowTech and Blaser.
But Brooks is still the typical eighth grader, and he is still humbled by all that he's accomplished.
At the top of the long list of awards won in the last year is his second gold medal in the Junior Olympics, where he won the 14U division in international skeet despite a lack of training for the event.
"Most of his training this year has switched over to all sporting clays," said Tom. "He had only shot international skeet a couple times since last year, but he picked it back up real quick."
Brooks also swept the three high overall trophies at the Texas 4H state shoot and won three golds, a silver and a bronze in his division, and won gold in sporting clays and silver in skeet at the Texas State Scholastic Clay Target Program (SCTP) Championship.
"I feel accomplished I guess, but it was a lot of hard work," Baylor said. "When we practice we go for two hours and shoot 250 rounds. When we practice twice it's four hours and 500 rounds. That's pretty exhausting."
Not so much physically exhausting as mentally.
"I have to stay so focused the whole time, and sometimes with the gun slapping me and all the noise I get a headache," Baylor explained.
But it's all been worth it as he's climbed up the ladder of shooting ratings and even taken on new events including the FITASC (Federation Internationale de Tir Aux Sportives de Chasse), an event originating in Europe that involves strategically-placed clay target throwers to simulate a variety of game shooting from multiple firing stations.
"It's an adrenaline rush, a cool experience," said Baylor of competing in the European version of sporting clays. Shooting at 25 targets from four stations in the junior division at the state shoot, Baylor hit 94 of 100 to finish second behind a rival who had already won the 2011 national sporting clays championship.
He's had many other rounds in the 90s, and has tossed up and shot holes through more baseball caps - it's a tradition when a shooter scores a perfect 25 - than he can count. Four years ago when Brooks was first making shooting headlines, he still dreamed of getting to shoot up his first cap.
Baylor punched into the master class when he won eight buckles and several first places in his age division at the Texas Sporting Clays Championship 2012 in San Angelo. Master is the highest class there is in the sport of clay shooting.
"That means a whole different level of competition," Tom said. "As the shooters improve and earn points, that's where they eventually stack up is in the master class. Baylor may shoot against 300 kids at the state shoot, but at a national event in the master class, he could be facing 1,700 or more."
The travel options are endless as he continues to move up in the sport.
"I like to travel, it's fun," said Brooks, who recently flew without his parents from the Junior Olympics in Colorado to arrive in the San Antonio area in time for a state event.
Tom is working to carefully schedule competitions so the travel doesn't become overbearing.
"The World Fitasc is in Minnesota and I don't think we'll make that," Tom said. "There has to be some limit to the traveling you do. We'll just have to be more selective - instead of shooting 10-12 4H events every year, we may take the best four or five, and we may take the best two or three Olympic shooting events and only the best sporting clay events.
"We'll try to hold to that for a year or two," Tom added, "and if he gets an Olympic spot we'll switch gears and do some more specific training."
Baylor has already raised his level of training, working with coach Gebben Miles of Target Line on mechanics and form.
"He also coaches me in the mental aspect of shooting," Baylor said. "The mental is harder than the physical."
So much so that Baylor says making A's on his report card is much easier than focusing throughout a long practice or competition.
"The report card is easy compared to that," said Baylor, whose parents require him to maintain his status as an honor student in order to continue shooting.
"Education is required, shooting is not," Tom said. "Take care of the education, and we'll let him shoot. That's our deal, and Baylor has always upheld his end of it."
Brooks is also working with David Christopher of Texas Premier Sporting Arms.
"I have good coaches, I just have to keep practicing," Baylor said.
He hopes that practice leads to high scores at two upcoming Olympic and Junior Olympic qualifiers, one in November and the other in May.
"There are a few qualifier events each year, so we'll definitely make sure he gets in some of those," Tom said.
Tom also makes sure that shooting continues to be a bonding experience between father and son.
"There are events that have parent-child shoots, and until we started those my guns had been retired for 15 years," Tom said. "I don't know if I help Baylor or not when we shoot in those. I'm no master class shooter; Baylor has passed me by."
Baylor hopes to pass everyone by, and continue to win no matter how tough the next level of competition.
As for trying to qualify for the 2016 Olympics in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil or future Olympic Games, he's quite literally earned his shot.
Follow Brad Keith on Twitter @etsports