The Air Force Academy's David Higgins is the first person to qualify for the Olympics as a cadet.

(USA Shooting)

David Higgins is getting ready to represent the U.S. in two very different arenas. First, he's set to compete in the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, which start next week. Then in the fall, Higgins will join the Marines. He's already the first person to qualify for the Olympics as a cadet.

In Rio, Higgins will compete in prone rifle, where he shoots 50 meters at a target while lying down. To hit the center of a bullseye the size of a dime that is about half a football field away, competitors have to control their heart rates, and to do that, they wear jackets made of leather and canvas with a sweater underneath. Some competitors also practice mindfulness and yoga, to make sure their hearts don't beat faster with the pressure of a gold medal on the line. 

"We shoot between our breaths, in the lull of our breathing," Higgins says. "We have to shoot between our heartbeats, too. I’m a very cardio-oriented guy, because I want to have as few heartbeats as I can, even when I’m excited, so that I have a larger window to shoot between those heartbeats."

Higgins talked with Colorado Matters host Ryan Warner as part of CPR News' coverage of Coloradans competing for Team USA.

Air Force Academy graduate and Olympian David Higgins plans to join the Marine Corps.

(Ron Morales)