More than 3,000 students roam the halls at the West Virginia University College of Engineering and Mineral Resources and nearly 770 of them made the Dean’s list last year. Studying and training in an environment where the best is nearly impossible to distinguish from the rest can make standing out a difficult task.
But combine a recent qualification for the Olympics with a personally designed and engineered air rifle and suddenly, one student becomes an inspiration for all.
Nicco Campriani, originally from Florence, Italy, has more than one reason to be proud of qualifying for the Olympics in 2012. With 10 years of rifle competition experience, he has an endless list of successes, as an Olympian in 2008, European Champion in 2009 and Academic All-American First Team of 2011.
With such an extensive list of achievements, it’s no surprise that Campriani is bringing something new to his second attempt at the world’s most recognized competition: a personally designed air-rifle.
After landing an internship with a pistol company, Pardini Firearms in Italy this past summer, Campriani, a senior majoring in industrial engineering, accomplished the impossible and designed an air-rifle that he and fellow shooters have only dreamed of.
“I’ve always talked to other shooters about what rifle we would prefer,” explained Campriani, “but the various adjustments were never made available. I took mental notes of all the changes and adjustments my fellow shooters wanted and combined that with what I personally wished for in an air-rifle for competition purposes.”
When searching for ways to modify his rifle, Campriani looked at the mechanics in every-day products. One such idea struck him when examining the shock absorbers on cars.
“I designed a small magnetic absorber that will prevent the rifle from moving when it’s fired,” Campriani said. “Certain cars use magnetic absorbers in their shocks while others use springs, but the magnet is more appropriate for the rifle as it will make it lighter and it’s an easier fit.”
There are many requirements and rules regarding specific aspects of the air rifles used in competitions, especially those used during the Olympics. With only a few months to research, design and convince Pardini Firearms to produce the rifle, Campriani made the most of his limited time and relied heavily on his engineering experience and education.
“Of course engineering interests me and I enjoy learning but my passion is with the rifle,” Campriani said. “Luckily, I haven’t had to choose one over the other yet, because so far they complement each other.”
The prototype should be made available to Campriani this fall; he plans to begin his vigorous training upon its arrival.
“It’s hard to change things a few months before the Olympics but I know this rifle, so of course I prefer to use it,” Campriani said. “If there is a problem during the competition, I can quickly correct it or make the necessary changes because this is my design and exactly what I want.”
While Campriani intends to train at the national training center in Colorado Springs with the U.S. Rifle Team, he will be traveling back to Morgantown to train the last few months with his most recent and consistent advisor, Dr. Edward Etze. A past Olympic winner, Etzel is a sports psychologist for WVU and his shooter-coach background gives him an interesting perspective, a perspective Campriani believes will give him an edge over other qualifiers.
“Anyone can shoot a 10 in training,” Campriani said, “but the real challenge is maintaining focus and blocking negative thoughts and self-doubt during the two-hour competition. The thrill of the opening ceremony at the Olympics is one I have never received in a classroom or during training, and that excitement and pressure can lead to distractions, something I train to overcome.”
Other top shooters around the world will also be testing the prototype after the 2012 Olympics scheduled to be held in England. If Campriani is successful next summer with his rifle design, the possibilities for mass production are endless.
CONTACT: Mary C. Dillon; College of Engineering and Mineral Resources
Follow @WVUToday on Twitter.