More than 130 Rifle and Pistol athletes are heading to Fort Benning, Georgia to compete in the USA Shooting Rifle/Pistol Spring Selection Match beginning Monday and running through March 30 at the home of the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit.
This match will select the competitors eligible to compete at the upcoming International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) World Cups in Beijing, China and Munich, Germany; as well as for the Pan American Games in Lima, Peru later this summer. For Paralympic athletes, this match is part of the selection process for the World Shooting Para Sport (WSPS) World Cup in Osijek, Croatia and the Parapan American Games, also in Lima this summer. This year’s Parapan American Games will be the first time in which shooting will be contested.
Just returned from the ISSF World Cup in New Delhi, India, expect strong performances from Tim Sherry (Highlands, Ranch, Colorado/U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit, pictured), who just missed out on Finals spots in Men’s Air and Three-Position Rifle. Two-time Olympian and World Championship bronze medalist Michael McPhail (Darlington, Wisconsin/USAMU) often shines on his home range, so look for him to challenge for a spot at these upcoming events. Athletes fresh off the NCAA Rifle Championship will also return to international competition with Air Rifle National Champion Elizabeth Marsh (Searcy, Arkansas) and Smallbore second-place finisher Angeline Henry (Fort Worth, Texas) of TCU among those looking to earn competition slots. For Air Rifle only, results from the 2018 Winter Airgun Championships will also be used in the selection process. Look for strong finishes from Air Rifle stalwarts Ali Weisz (Belgrade, Montana), Mindy Miles (Weatherford, Texas), 2016 Olympic gold medalist Ginny Thrasher(Springfield, Virginia) and 2016 Olympian Lucas Kozeniesky (Fairfax, Virginia).
On the Pistol side, Alexis Lagan (Boulder City, Nevada) narrowly missed out on a Finals spot at the World Cup in India but look for her to be challenged by up-and-coming Junior athletes, including Junior World Championship silver medalist Katelyn Abeln (Douglasville, Georgia) and Sarah Choe (Los Angeles, California). Choe’s Qualification score in Sport Pistol at the World Championship would have put her just two points out of a Finals spot in the Open division. 2012 Olympian Nick Mowrer (Butte, Montana) will not only shoot Men’s Air Pistol, he will also compete in Men’s Three-Position Rifle at this selection match. At the Smallbore Selection Match at the end of 2018, Mowrer finished in second place in Three-Position Rifle.
2018 USA Shooting Paralympic Athlete of the Year Taylor Farmer (Castalia, Ohio) won bronze medals in the R2 (Women’s 10m Air Rifle Standing SH1) and R8 (Women’s 50m Three-Position Rifle SH1) events at the WSPS World Cup in Chateauroux, France in November. At the Robert Mitchell Rifle Championships in February, Farmer was posting world-class scores in R3 (Mixed 10m Air Rifle Prone SH1) where she shot the top cumulative score, shooting a 631.8 on the first day and 630.8 on the second. Kevin Nguyen (Westminster, California/USAMU) was the top finisher for the United States at the 2018 World Championship in Cheongju, South Korea where he finished in ninth place in R6 (Mixed 50m Rifle Prone SH1), just .4 point out of a potential Finals berth. He is expected to compete in R6 as well as R3 (Mixed 10m Air Rifle Prone SH1). Also competing will be 2016 Paralympic bronze medalist McKenna Dahl (Arlington, Washington) who will not only compete in her medal-winning event of R5 (Mixed 10m Air Rifle Prone SH2), but R4 (Mixed 10m Air Rifle Standing SH2) and the newest Paralympic Games shooting event, R9 (Mixed 50m Rifle Prone SH2) in which Dahl won gold at the WSPS-sanctioned event at the USA Shooting National Championships.
Spots at the ISSF World Cups and Pan American Games are of particular importance as these are some of the remaining opportunities to earn quotas for the Olympic Games. An Olympic quota is essentially a country’s ticket to participate in a specific event in the 2020 Olympic Games. Earning an Olympic quota in competition ensures the country a spot in that particular event, not necessarily the athlete. Rifle and Pistol athletes will then earn slots on the U.S. Olympic Team via a trials system which can be viewed here: https://bit.ly/2FnccFI.
Competition schedule for the Rifle/Pistol Spring Selection Match: https://bit.ly/2TSuBoa. Results can be found daily at http://www.usashooting.org/7-events/match-information and on USA Shooting’s Facebook and Twitter pages.