The Shootist

Terry Anderson thought he'd be in Athens right now, chasing his lifelong dream of Olympic gold. Instead, he's in prison, his life plugged full of holes.

An employee drove Anderson, who had nothing but his wallet and the clothes on his back, to a repair shop so he could pick up his Bentley. Discovering Marylynn had emptied their bank accounts, Anderson checked into a hotel and wondered what Mack truck had just hit him.

The first clue that this was going to be something more than a nasty divorce over infidelity came with Marylynn's parting words to him in the parking lot: "Oh, by the way, the ATF visited the house on Monday."

The second sign was an affidavit for the restraining order Marylynn had obtained in court that morning. Claiming to be in fear for her life, Marylynn accused her husband of flying into fits of rage, abusing her, killing his first wife and bragging about using his unique and deadly skills to commit covert assassinations in his capacity as an officer in the U.S. Army Reserve.

Marylynn Anderson feared for her life after finding her husband's cache of secret weapons.
Marylynn Anderson feared for her life after finding her husband's cache of secret weapons.
Terry Anderson won 17 national titles as a shooter and made two Olympic teams.
Photo courtesy of
Terry Anderson won 17 national titles as a shooter and made two Olympic teams.

And she provided some damning evidence. Marylynn's affidavit described how several days earlier, she'd opened a secret compartment in their home and discovered "illegal weapons"--including eight machine guns, five silencers and two "pen" guns--and notified the ATF.

The weapons, including a 1928 Tommy gun worth an estimated $10,000 and an Uzi, were all "Title II" weapons, illegal to possess or sell unless they'd been registered. ATF agent Jim Ruffin discovered that none of the weapons had ever been registered; some had no serial numbers, meaning they were never legal to possess.

"He was in serious violation of the law," says prosecutor Michael Gill. "He had more weapons than any other person I've ever encountered. The silencers were extremely high-quality, and the machine guns were very desirable." Though there was no evidence Anderson had tried to sell them or used them to commit a crime, Gill says, the idea behind the law is that these weapons are "inherently dangerous" in the wrong hands.

Colonel Harry Noble, who managed Anderson's career in the Army Reserve at one point and later became friends with both Andersons, believes Marylynn schemed for six months to destroy Anderson. "Marylynn was very cold and calculating," Noble says. "I've never seen anybody so determined to wreak vengeance."

Marylynn, however, says she never intended for her husband to go to prison. "Nothing was done intentionally to bring him down," she says. "It just unfolded."

Was Anderson simply reaping what he'd sown? One former associate, who insisted that he not be identified, says Anderson has a history of going after anyone who crossed him.

"Anderson always said, 'Rules are for fools, and guides are for the wise,'" he says. "He's a very dangerous man."

Terry Anderson enters the visitation room at the Federal Correctional Institution at Seagoville in characteristic style: military posture and grinning broadly, blue eyes fixed on his visitor. He extends a firm handshake with a "good morning" in a matey accent still strong after 30 years in America.

In 2001, Anderson returned to Queensland, the northeastern coastal state twice the size of Texas where he grew up, and sat in the seat once occupied by his grandfather, the legendary Edward "Red Ted" Theodore. A gold miner and fiery labor leader who served as Queensland premier, Red Ted later became the country's treasurer and deputy prime minister. One historian has described Theodore as "the closest that Australia has come to producing the Great Gatsby."

Anderson's mother was no less remarkable. "Imagine the Queen of England," Marylynn says. After making her debut in England at the Court of St. James, Monica Theodore married a dashing, much older Australian officer, Edward Fahey, who died in 1947 when Anderson was a toddler. Adopted by his stepfather, Anderson grew up in boarding school from age 10 on.

Anderson studied economics at Sydney University in the mid-'60s but never earned a degree, though he claimed otherwise on past résumés. He started a construction business, renovating convict-built homes from the 1830s.

His older brother Tony began taking him to the firing range at the St. Ives Pistol Club, a social club in Sydney. "I didn't enjoy shooting," Anderson says. "I'd go to the range to train to win."

In rapid-fire pistol, the shooter holds a pistol with the muzzle tilted down at a 45-degree angle, waiting for a green light and a target 25 meters away to turn. He then has eight seconds to shoot five rounds. The sequence repeats for the second target. In the next round, the two targets are exposed for six seconds each. In the final round, the targets are exposed for four seconds. After two courses over two days, a perfect score is 600. The world record is 597.

Rapid-fire pistol has been an Olympic event since 1896. But this year no Americans will compete in it; their performances in qualifying competitions failed to earn any quota slots. Though Anderson has won titles in rapid fire, standard pistol and center fire, he excels in rapid fire. "In my event, virtually all of the shots have to be in the middle of the 10-ring," Anderson says. "The weapon hasn't got much to do with it. It's you against yourself."

While training, Anderson applies techniques he calls "advanced daydreaming."

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