Six USA Shooting Team members earned 2016 Olympic Team nominations based upon points they earned for outstanding performances in 2015 World Cup competition, the Shotgun World Championships, World Cup Finals and Selection Match events. The final 14 Olympic Team spots available are determined based upon top performances at 2015 and 2016 U.S. Olympic Team Trials events.
Thus far in 2016, five more athletes have punched their tickets to Rio following the U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Smallbore, which were held the first week of April in Fort Benning, Georgia. Team members who have secured their Olympic Team nominations are listed below.
*All Team nominations are subject to approval by the U.S. Olympic Committee
Part I - Tucson, Arizona (October 9-17, 2015)
Trap -- The Road to Rio for the USA Shooting Team isn’t an easy path, but at the halfway point, it is Janessa Beaman who will take the lead into the final stage of Women’s Trap. In the battle for one Olympic Team spot, Beaman (Colorado Springs, Colorado) emerged as the front-runner following a four day grueling test that included 250 qualifying targets and two finals. Beaman shot three targets better in qualifying over two-time Olympian and 2008 Olympic bronze medalist Corey Cogdell-Unrein (Eagle River, Alaska) and then beat her in the second final and will take a two-point lead into part two of the Olympic Team Trials that will be contested next May in Tillar, Arkansas featuring the exact same format. FULL RECAP
Double Trap -- As expected, the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit (USAMU) stood tall during the Men’s Double Trap portion of the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team Trials. At the halfway point, it is 2012 Olympian Josh Richmond who will hold a slight advantage over his two teammates heading into the conclusive match in Tillar. Richmond’s familiar foes are none other than Derek Haldeman (Sunbury, Ohio) and Jeff Holguin (Yorba Linda, California). Haldeman held the advantage throughout qualifying, outshooting Richmond by three targets. But it was Richmond gaining the points he would need in each of the two event Finals, with both first and second-place finishes. Holguin, the 2008 Olympian and fourth-place finisher in Beijing, used a first-place finish during the second final to ensure he stayed within striking distance of his two challengers. FULL RECAP
Women's Skeet -- Five-time Olympic medalist Kim Rhode (El Monte, California) did enough over 250 targets and two finals to ensure she’ll have a five-target advantage to Tillar. Rhode built her lead by out-shooting her opponents by three targets during 250 qualifying targets over four days with a 237/250. She finished first in the first Final and then earned a bronze medal in the second Final. Amber English (Colorado Springs, Colorado) is within striking distance, down by five after hitting 233/250 and finishing second and third in each of the two finals to put herself into second place. Nine back of Rhode is 16-year-old Katie Jacob (Rochester, Michigan) who announced her presence among a talented field with a terrific performance throughout the week that included appearances in both finals. Dania Vizzi (Odessa, Florida) is in fourth position, 12 targets out. FULL RECAP
Men's Skeet -- Four days of competition solved virtually nothing in the race to join two-time Olympic gold medalist Vincent Hancock(Eatonton, Georgia) in Rio. His 2012 Olympic teammate Frank Thompson (Alliance, Nebraska) is in the running as is U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit’s (USAMU) Hayden Stewart (Columbia, Tennessee). The two are tied in total points and there’s another nine athletes within 12 targets, setting up what will be a nerve wracking four days next May in Tillar. The most consistent performer in Tucson, Phillip Jungman (Caldwell, Texas), is in third, two targets out. Aaron Wilson (Lansing, Kansas) and Pan American Games champion TJ Bayer (College Station, Texas) are tied for fourth, four targets back. Dustin Perry (Lovelady, Texas) is five targets back in sixth. FULL RECAP
Fort Benning, Georgia (April 1, 2016)
Men's Prone Rifle -- The biggest surprise came in the Men’s Prone Rifle event where David Higgins (San Clemente, California) erased an 11-point margin against arguably one of the sport’s all-time greats in Matt Emmons (Browns Mills, New Jersey). He did so by shooting a career best on the pressure-packed day with a qualification score of 629.5 while Emmons struggled to a mark of 616.8 that left him out of the Final. Higgins score was so big he had earned the nomination before the Finals even began, but that didn’t stop him from finishing in style with a win their too.
He’ll join 2012 Olympian Michael McPhail (USAMU/Darlington, Wisconsin) in the event. McPhail qualified through the Olympic Points System based on his performances internationally in 2015.
Women's Three-Position Rifle -- It’s going to be hard to beat the accomplishments teenager Ginny Thrasher (Springfield, Virginia) has earned thus far in 2016: NCAA Smallbore National champion March 11; NCAA Air Rifle National champion March 12; Olympian April 4.
In March she became the first freshman in NCAA history to sweep both individual rifle titles in helping lead the Mountaineers to an 18th national championship. Now, she becomes just the third WVU female rifle athlete to represent the United States at the Olympics, and the first since 2000 Olympian Jean Foster. Foster also competed at the 1996 Olympic Games. Ann-Marie Pfiffner was the first WVU female rifle athlete to represent the United States at the 1992 Olympic Games.
Men's Free Pistol -- Jay Shi (Phoenix, Arizona) earned the lone Team nomination available in Men’s Free Pistol with his dominating final day performance in the competition. In the last Qualification match, Shi shot 565 – nine points above his nearest competitor and a score that would place him in most World Cup Finals – to extend his lead to 26 points.
Men's Rapid Fire Pistol --Emil Milev (Temple Terrace, Florida) becomes the second U.S. Olympic shooter ever to qualify for six Games, behind William McMillan, who appeared at every Games but one from 1952-1976. McMillan represented the U.S. at all six of his Olympic appearances and won gold in 1960.
Milev beat four other competitors to earn his ticket to Brazil and will join his 2012 Olympic teammate Keith Sanderson (Colorado Springs, Colorado), who earned his way on to the Olympic Team in 2015 based on strong international results.
Milev opened the qualifier by scoring 585 to hold a six-point advantage over Alexander Chichkov. He padded that lead the next day, posting a 587 for an aggregate of 1,184, 17 points up on Chichkov. In addition, Milev’s win in second day's final was only one hit shy of matching the Finals world record of 35 hits.
With his sixth Olympic team selection securely in hand, Milev wrapped up his trials competition with a flourish, surpassing the world record of 35 hits in a final to score 37, serving notice that he aiming for a podium finish in Rio.
Women's Sport Pistol -- Not only would the lone spot in Women’s Sport Pistol for the U.S. be decided in the last Final of the entire competition, it would be decided by the last shot. Once in the Final, three rounds of shoot-offs would determine who would go to the “gold-medal” and “bronze-medal” matches. Though these matches are titled as such, in this Olympic Team Trials, the first-place finisher in the Finals would win eight additional points, second place seven, third six and so on – not necessarily the medal overall. When 2012 Olympian Sandra Uptagrafft (Phenix City, Alabama) won her “bronze-medal match,” she had to wait to see how Enkelejda Shehaj (Naples, Florida) would finish. The way this selection was set up and how the points were awarded, if Shehaj won her “gold-medal match,” she won the Olympic slot outright. If she lost after Uptagrafft had already earned bronze, the both of them would be tied on cumulative points, and the tie-breaker of the aggregate of center shots (shots within a ring inside the 10-ring of the target) would determine the winner. If it came to that, Uptagrafft would win, 56-46.
Shehaj would face Nathalie Granados (New York, New York) in the “gold-medal match.” The pair would continue to tie each other round after round, until Shehaj finally bested Granados on the final shot on the final target to win the match, along with the Olympic Team slot.
|Discipline||Quota 1||Quota 2|
|Men's Free||James Henderson -
WC Benning (May '15)
|Men's Air||Will Brown - CAT (Oct. '14)|
|Men's Rapid Fire||Keith Sanderson - WC Munich (May '15)||Brad Balsley - PAG (July '15)|
|Women's Sport||Sandra Uptagrafft - PAG (July '15)|
|Women's Air||Lydia Paterson - WC Munich (May '15)|
|Men's Prone||Matt Emmons - WC Changwon (April '15)||Michael McPhail - WC Benning
|Men's Air||Dempster Christenson - CAT (Oct. '14)||Connor Davis - PAG (July '15)|
|Men's 3P||George Norton - PAG (July '15)|
|Women's Air||Sarah Beard - WC Benning (May '15)|
|Women's 3P||Amy Sowash - WC Benning (May '15)|
|Women's Skeet||Brandy Drozd - WChamps (Sept. '14)||Kim Rhode - WC Acapulco
|Men's Skeet||Vincent Hancock - WC Acapulco
|TJ Bayer - PAG (July '15)|
|Men's Double Trap||Josh Richmond - WChamps (Sept. '14)||Jeff Holguin - WC Acapulco
|Women's Trap||Corey Cogdell-Unrein - WC Acapulco
- A quota spot is essentially the entry ticket necessary for a country to compete in Olympic competition in a particular discipline. A country is allowed to earn up to two quotas in each event, and an athlete can win only one quota for his/her country - regardless of the discipline.
- When an athlete wins an Olympic quota, it does not guarantee him/her a slot on the Olympic team. Olympic team slots will be determined through a separate selection procedure.
- See the rest of the international Olympic quota winners by event or country here.
Individual selection for the Olympic Games will come via two different paths, either by the Olympic Points System or Olympic Team Selection Competitions. A point system was used again given athletes the opportunity to earn points by virtue of their finishes at 2015 World Cups, World Champs, World Cup Final and designated selection competitions. After the 2015 World Cup Final, the athlete with the most points who meets or exceeds the point threshold of 25 points (for Rifle/Pistol) and 30 points (for Shotgun) and has earned at least one medal at a 2015 World Cup competition, World Cup Finals (rifle & pistol only) or World Championships (shotgun only), was nominated to the Olympic Team depending upon quotas earned in each event.
In Rifle/Pistol, the first quota slot will be awarded to the Point System Winner. All other quota slots in each event (if available) will be awarded to the highest-ranked finisher(s) at the Olympic Team Selection Competitions.
In Shotgun, the first quota will be awarded to the highest-ranked finisher(s) at the Olympic Team Selection Competitions. All other quota slots in each event (if available) will be awarded to the Olympic Point System winner.
Olympic Team Selection Competitions will consist of multiple courses of fire as defined below. If there are no Olympic Points System winners in an event, all team members will be determined by the Olympic Team Selection Competitions up to the number of quotas earned in the respective event. To be eligible for a team slot via Olympic Team Selection Competition, an athlete must earn their Minimum Qualifying Score (MQS) by March 31, 2016. More information about MQS can be found here.
Airgun – 2015 Winter Airgun Championships (December, 3 courses of fire) + Rifle/Pistol Air Olympic Trials (June 3, 2 courses of fire)
Smallbore – 2016 Olympic Team Selection for Smallbore (April, 3 courses of fire)
Shotgun – 2015 Fall Selection Match (October, 2 courses of fire) + 2016 Spring Selection Match (May, 2 courses of fire)
|Morgan Craft - OLYMPIC NOMINATION SECURED||55|
|Finals Points Earned||6th/Acapulco= 5||0/Al Ain||3rd/Larnaca = 10||2nd/Gabala = 14||3rd /Nationals or Final Selection = 1||1st/SH World Champs = 25|
|Finals Points Earned||2nd/Acapulco = 14||5th/Al Ain = 5||0/Larnaca||5th/Gabala = 5||1st/Nationals = 3||2nd/SH World Champs = 20|
|Finals Points Earned||1st/Acapulco = 17||0/Al Ain||0/Larnaca||0/Gabala||1st/Nationals or Final Selection = 3||0/SH World Champs|
|Vincent Hancock - OLYMPIC NOMINATION SECURED||69|
|Finals Points Earned||1st/Acapulco = 17||4th/Al Ain = 7||0/Larnaca||17/Gabala||1st/Nationals or Final Selection = 3||1st /SH World Champs = 25|
|Men's Double Trap|
|Glenn Eller - OLYMPIC NOMINATION SECURED||32|
|Finals Points Earned||6th/Acapulco = 5||0/Al Ain||0/Larnaca||1st/Gabala = 17||1st/Nationals or Final Selection = 3||6th/SH World Champs = 7|
|Finals Points Earned||3rd/Acapulco = 10||4th/Al Ain = 7||0/Larnaca||0/Gabala||1st/Nationals or FInal Selection = 3||0/SH World Champs|
|Finals Points Earned||1st/Acapulco = 17||0/Al Ain||0/Larnaca||0/Gabala||0/Nationals||0/SH World Champs|
|Finals Points Earned||1st/Acapulco = 17||0/Al Ain||6th/Larnaca = 5||3rd/Gabala = 10||1st /Nationals or Final Selection = 3||0/SH World Champs|
|Finals Points Earned||4th/Acapulco = 7||0/Al Ain||0/Larnaca||0/Gabala||1st/Nationals or Final Selection = 3||0/SH World Champs|
|Men's 3P Rifle|
|Matt Emmons - OLYMPIC NOMINATION SECURED||33|
|Finals Points Earned||2nd/Changwon = 12||3rd/Benning = 8||0/Munich||/Gabala||1st/Nationals or Final Selection = 3||1st WC Finals = 10|
|Michael McPhail - OLYMPIC NOMINATION SECURED||47|
|Finals Points Earned||0/Changwon||1st/Benning = 15||1st/Munich = 15||7th/Gabala = 4||1st/Nationals or Final Selection= 3||1st WC Finals = 10|
|Finals Points Earned||1st/Changwon = 15||8th/Benning = 3||0/Munich||2nd/Gabala = 12||1st/Nationals or Final Selection = 3|
|Men's Rapid Fire Pistol|
|Keith Sanderson - OLYMPIC NOMINATION SECURED||25|
|Finals Points Earned||0/Changwon||6th/Benning = 5||2nd/Munich = 12||6th/Gabala = 5||1st/Nationals or Final Selection = 3|
- New Rules - International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) rule changes in 2013 regarding finals were substantial. Those changes were arguably more significant than all changes made in the sport format from 1986 to 2012. 2013 was the implementation year for changes to Finals procedures. These changes were made at the encouragement of the IOC broadcasting group in an effort once again to make our sport more attractive to a TV and live audience. The athletes have had two years to make the big adjustment and the Finals have become more thrilling with its zero-start format.
- Will Brown – This Idaho native has emerged as a top medal contender in both Air and Free Pistol events having won a 2013 World Cup medal and earning top-eight finishes in both events in 2015.
Keith Sanderson -- This two-time Olympian had arm surgery post-2012, and that has seemingly rejuvenated his career as he’s now an almost certain lock to make his event finals every time he competes. The 2014 USA Shooting Athlete of the Year, he’s anxious to not only compete in Rio, but to emerge victorious.
- Matt Emmons – The three-time Olympic medalist has comprised a body of work that suggests he’s at the head of his class in the history of this sport. Simply put, Matt Emmons is one of the best marksmen in history, taking his place alongside this sport’s legendary figures. Now in the twilight of his career and another Olympic Games squarely in his sights, he’s acutely aware that the time to add to his shooting legacy is fleeting. If he’s able to step on the podium for a fourth time in four Olympic Games, it would be another shining moment.
- Sarah Beard -- Her recent domination at the 2015 National Championships, has Beard headed in the direction as Rio rounds into sight. She earned National Championhip titles in both Women's Rifle events and was the person responsible for earning the Olympic quota in Air Rifle following her fifth-place finish at World Cup USA in May.
- Michael McPhail – As a shooter, Michael McPhail has all the qualities of a good bird dog: instinct, aggression, confidence, intelligence, trainability and good lineage. It’s an easy comparison to make given McPhail’s love of training quality bird dogs born from a hunting pedigree dating back to the start of his teenage years. One of the top Prone Rifle shooters in the world, the 2012 Olympian has earned 10 medals in international competition during his career including two World Cup wins in 2015. He missed an the Olympic Finals in 2012 by just three-tenths of a point, but this time he’s more intense, efficient, focused and ready to grab the prize he seeks.
- More Medal Opportunity - The big change related to the Shotgun discipline since London aside from a different Finals format is the opportunity for two female participants in both shotgun events. Through 2012, only one female athlete per country could participate. That changed after 2012 giving shotgun-strong countries like the United States the opportunity to send an additional female participant. As of August 5, the U.S. is still looking to earn a second quota in Women's Trap after Corey Cogdell-Unrein did so at World Cup Acapulco earlier in 2015. Kim Rhode and Brandy Drozd both ensured that the U.S. would have two participants in Skeet.
- Kim Rhode -- Domination and the pursuit of perfection hasn't become a once-in-a-while thing but rather a full-time occupation for the five-time Olympian Rhode who now owns a U.S. Olympic record of five medals in five consecutive Olympic Games. With that medal, she became the first U.S. athlete to win an individual medal in five consecutive Olympic Games, moving ahead of such big names as Carl Lewis and Al Oerter. Rhode's third Olympic gold medal is the most by a female shooter - she also has a silver and a bronze to complete the set. By competing in the Women's Trap event in London where she finished ninth, Rhode also became the first shooter to compete in all three shotgun events (trap, double trap, skeet).
She’s not finished yet, however. Despite having a baby boy in May 2013, she’s returned to form ever since winning four World Cup medals including three World Cup victories. After carrying the flag for Team USA into the Opening Ceremony of the 2015 Pan American Games, she then went out and earned Pan American gold while in Toronto.
- Corey Cogdell-Unrein -- This two-time Olympian is still at the top of her game and is hoping to revisit the medal success she found as a 21-year-old bronze medalist at the Beijing Olympic Games. Having married NFL defensive lineman Mitch Unrein in 2014, this intense competitor has renewed energy and is ready to bust targets all the way to Rio.
- Vincent Hancock -- At the medalist press conference in London following his second consecutive gold-medal run in Men’s Skeet, Vincent Hancock was already eyeing Rio: “Knowing that I want to go back and build my legacy is what I am going for now,” he said at the time. “It’s not just the number of medals; it’s what else can I do, how big can I grow this sport and how many people can I introduce to it.” With his drive and competitive desire restored, the world's best skeet shooters might be lining up behind him for a long time to come.
- Jeff Holguin – The depth of American firepower in Men’s Double Trap is impressive and Jeff Holguin is part of a quartet of U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit athletes intent on keeping it that way. Holguin’s recent resurgence from a fourth-place finish at the Beijing Olympic Games has guaranteed that he’ll be part of the discussion in deciding the two Olympic spots available in the event. Over the past two years, he’s won four World Cup medals including three gold. His experience in 2008 has taught him to fight hard to not come up short in pursuit of his goals and he’s determined, that should he get another opportunity, a medal will be his.
- Will Brown (July 2013): http://content.yudu.com/A2bgh4/July2013/resources/14.htm
- Lydia Paterson (May 2014): http://content.yudu.com/A2uav3/May2014/resources/38.htm
- Keith Sanderson (May 2015): http://content.yudu.com/A3nq42/May2015/resources/40.htm
- Sandra Uptagrafft (Sept. 2014): http://content.yudu.com/A3281g/ShootingMagSept2014/resources/24.htm
- Ryan Anderson (March 2014): http://content.yudu.com/A2rccf/March2014/resources/32.htm
- Sarah Beard (2013 Year in Review): http://content.yudu.com/A2l7sb/YrInRev2013/resources/60.htm
- Dempster Christenson (2013 Year in Review): http://content.yudu.com/A2l7sb/YrInRev2013/resources/60.htm
- Michael McPhail (2014 Year in Review): http://content.yudu.com/A39lff/YearInReview2014/resources/58.htm
- Matt Emmons (March 2015): http://content.yudu.com/A3hnuc/March2015/resources/18.htm
- Glenn Eller (March 2016):
- Janessa Beaman (Sept. 2014): http://content.yudu.com/A39lff/YearInReview2014/resources/22.htm
- Vincent Hancock (July 2015): http://content.yudu.com/A3qp9d/July2015/resources/40.htm
- Jeff Holguin (Sept. 2014): http://content.yudu.com/A3281g/ShootingMagSept2014/resources/36.htm
- Kim Rhode (July 2015): http://content.yudu.com/A3qp9d/July2015/resources/44.htm
- Kim Rhode (Shotgun): "It's that moment on the podium, watching the flag going to the top of the pole, hearing the national anthem, and remembering the journey it took to get there. That's what I remember most and it is that moment that has me excited to see how this journey will go in Rio 2016. I've trained hard and I know that there's nothing else I could have done. Now, it is time to have fun in the final competitions leading up to Rio!"
- Matt Emmons (Rifle): "One year out from Rio – great! Let’s get this party started! Personally, I’m really happy with where I’m at. Things are progressing well and I’m looking forward to the next year of training and competitions. Of course, I’m not qualified for the Olympic Team yet, but that’s the goal. Qualify and then go to Rio feeling strong and intent on performing great. I live for those moments, so that’s what’s lighting my fire every day."
"I’m also really looking forward to seeing what my team does next year. I truly believe we have so much potential for greatness. If everyone does their part (athletes and staff), works hard in their respective areas, and works to create that exciting and positive environment we’ve had in the past, there’s no telling what we can do. It’s going to be fun!"
Frank Thompson (Shotgun): "I am very excited about 2016. Rio is where I won a silver medal and a quota slot last Quad so I know the range, and I feel good about it. After competing in the 2012 Games, I know I want to go back. It was a great experience and I know I can take it further since I'm shooting even better now than I was before."
- Emil Milev (Pistol): "I feel excited to be once again in the run towards the greatest sports forum on the planet. I feel that the experience I accumulated this past season will be beneficial and I'm ready to build upon it. I know I have a lot to catch up on, and it will take an enormous amount of work and effort, but I'm really looking forward to the challenge. And I know I'm not alone, with the support of my family, my coach Vladimir, the national coach Sergey Luzov, USA Shooting, and my principal, Anthony Montoto, at BT Washington Elementary School. I feel stronger being part of such a great team."
- Jeff Holguin (Shotgun): "I'm looking forward to continuing my journey to Rio. My first step was securing our second country quota in Acapulco early this year. The next step was supposed to be making the Team off of points but that wasn't meant to be when I failed to qualify for the AZE and World Championships through the selection process. A minor setback as I am now able to focus all of my energy and training torwards the first Olympic selection match in Tucson in October. At that time I will be fully prepared to continue the success I have been building over the last few years in big competitions. I am genuinely looking forward to those butterflies come Fall Selection. It can't get here soon enough!"
- George Norton (Rifle): "To be considered the best there is only one option, gold at the Olympic Games. There are many international championships, but the Olympics is universally recognized as the ultimate level of competition. Three years ago I did not even know if I would compete again. I was debilitated by medical issues and did not pull a trigger for an entire year. I fought back to answer the question posed to all great athletes, 'Am I the best?' For a year now I have been training five hours a day on the range, spending countless hours testing my rifle and am away from my family for weeks at a time during competitions. All of this is worth it because I’m driven to be the best at what I do. When the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio begin a year from now, I know I will have done everything possible to achieve excellence and be the best."
- Sarah Beard (Rifle): "One year can seem like forever when you have to wait for the next Christmas, yet I know next summer will be here sooner than I know it. The past three years have flown by at lightning speed, but I'm happy with the ground I've covered this quad, especially this last year. I think about Rio every day, and now that it's so close, it seems like the thought crosses my mind every hour. I'm so excited to see what this next year looks like. No matter how 2016 ends up, I still want to focus on enjoying the process and savoring every moment of competition. Every year and every quad is a different experience, and I want to soak this one up as much as I can."
- Lydia Paterson (Pistol): “I never really had an Olympic dream. I never thought I would be able to train hard enough to acquire the skills needed to compete at the International level. After making many sacrifices and spending countless hours on the range, my sport has transformed from a hobby into a passion. This season has been my most successful year yet and winning an Olympic quota in June has brought my Olympic dream to life. I am determined to earn my place on the 2016 Olympic Team. I have learned to never say never and to chase my dreams no matter how far away they may seem.”
Dustin Perry (Shotgun): "I am excited and looking forward to the challenge of making my dreams come true and making an Olympic Team. Hard work and determination is reaching an all-time high as we round the final corner in the run for Rio."
September 7 marks one year to the Opening Ceremony of the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and USA Shooting is excited about our prospects as we have Rio in Sight.
Looking Back…London 2012
USA Shooting history was made in January 2012 with the naming of the 2012 Paralympic Games Team. For the first time ever, USA Shooting sent athletes to compete in the Paralympic Games after having formed a Paralympic division following the 2008 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
The U.S. was represented by Eric Hollen (Colorado Springs, Colorado) and SFC Josh Olson (U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit / Spokane, Washington). Hollen placed 14th in P1 (Men’s 10m Air Pistol SH1) and 23rd in P4 (Mixed 50m Free Pistol SH1). Olson placed 12th in R6 (Mixed 50m Rifle Prone SH1) and 28th in R3 (Mixed 10m Air Rifle Prone SH1).
Scene in ‘16
Not only are Paralympic shooting opportunities growing worldwide, but similar results are present within USA Shooting. From the program’s beginning in 2008 to two Paralympic competitors in London at the 2012 Paralympic Games, the program has grown tremendously in the past three years. Five Olympic Training Center resident athletes and the U.S. Army’s Marksmanship Unit (USAMU) Paralympic Section have strengthened the overall outlook.
Though robust changes in the rules governing the sport have brought some anxiety and uncertainty, USA Shooting has a strong start on building its number of quota slots as qualification for the Paralympic Games began at the IPC Shooting World Championships last summer. Mike Tagliapietra (Fond du Lac, Wisconsin) and McKenna Dahl (Arlington, Washington) earned quota slots for the U.S. in P3 (Mixed 25m Pistol SH1) and R4 (Mixed 10m Air Rifle Standing SH2) respectively.
McKenna Dahl: The International Paralympic Committee named Dahl one of the “Top 10 Para-Athletes You Should Like Before 2016” noting “expect her to be huge come Rio 2016.” That’s tall billing for the recent high school graduate turned Olympic Training Center Resident Athlete who earned her R4 Paralympic quota at last year’s World Championships.
Mike Tagliapietra: The IPC recently listed Tagliapietra, currently one of the top athletes in P3 (Mixed 25m Pistol SH1) as one of their “Top Pistol Shooters to Look Out For” at the IPC Shooting World Championships where he qualified for and competed in P1, P3 and P4 — the most events of any U.S. competitor.
Tagliapietra’s strongest event is proving to be the P3 (Mixed 25m Pistol SH1) event in which he earned his 2016 Paralympic quota slot at the 2014 World Championships. At the 2013 USA Shooting National Championships for Rifle/Pistol, Tagliapietra shot a score in this event that would have put him in the Finals at the 2012 Paralympic Games.Depth of Talent: The quota slots earned by Tagliapietra and Dahl were in events the U.S. had not qualified for at the 2012 Paralympic Games, but with two additional opportunities for athletes to earn quota slots, the possibility of the U.S. earning up to the maximum additional 10 slots isn’t too far off.
With the growth of the number of Paralympic resident athletes at the Olympic Training Center, including Jazmin Almlie-Ryan (Houston, Texas), Tammy Delano (Rome, New York) and Israel Del Toro (Cibolo, Texas) , and strong Paralympic shooters coming out of the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit, several strong Army shooters are also in the mix to earn quota slots, including Prone Rifle specialist Sgt. John Joss and Pistol athlete Staff Sgt. Shaun Tichenor (Brainerd, Minnesota).
Jazmin Almlie-Ryan: "With the Paralympic Games approaching next year, words cannot express the tremendous amount of excitement I have. Something I've been working towards is so close that I can just reach out and touch it, and that truly is an amazing feeling. Sure, 5 years ago when I began this journey, I told myself that I'd 1 day make it to being 1 of the top shooters in the United States and eventually represent this country at the Paralympic Games, but now that we are here, now in the present, and that dream is becoming reality, I can't express the amount of pride that I have. The countless hours of training, the competition experiences (good and bad), and the sheer dedication it has taken to compete at this level has paid off. Of course with the excitement, comes a little apprehension, naturally. As in life, nothing is set in stone, and many things can happen in a year's time. The mental approach I'm taking to this is that I'm simply going to keep doing what I know how to do. I know how to put the hours in, I know how to shoot the scores necesary to reach the top of the podium, and I certainly know the passion one has to have to achieve this ultimate goal. If I continue with this method, I feel the outcome will take care of itself. I look forward to this next year greatly as a year of tremendous growth, not only on the range, but in all areas of my life. The journey thus far has been an amazing one, and I look forward to continuing on this path with the ultimate goal of representing this awesome country at the 2016 Paralympic Games!"
2012 Paralympian Eric Hollen: “I am thankful to have a supporting family and friends who encourage me, and for the opportunity to train at such an amazing venue as USA Shooting. I sat on a discussion panel for the recent USA Shooting Coaches College alongside such legends as Col. Lones Wigger, who acted as the moderator. I was listening to the coaches asking questions of the panel and I was struck by the realization of how critical it is to advocate for our sport, particularly on the range during competition where we, the athletes, can display the outcome of determined training and discipline that is facilitated by the Olympic Training Center and embodied by athletes. Rio is where all that hard work will be revealed. For just a brief moment in time, the athletes are center stage, promoting shooting sports in a positive light for the whole world to see.”
Only 150 quota slots (100 male, 50 female) are available for Paralympic shooters in 12 medal events, marking the first quota increase for the sport in 25 years. Slots are awarded via direct quota allocation to the nation — similar to Olympic quotas — versus the previous Minimum Qualification Score (MQS) slot allocation. When an athlete wins a quota, it guarantees the nation a place at the Paralympic Games in that specific event, not the athlete. As of September 7, 2015, McKenna Dahl and Michael Tagliapietra are the only athletes to have earned Paralympic quotas.
Only one athlete can obtain one quota slot for a nation in any event and a nation can be allocated a maximum of 12 quota slots (maximum of eight from one gender). The 2014 IPC Shooting World Championships marked the first opportunity for athletes to earn quota slots, along with the 2015 IPC World Cups in Croatia, Australia and Fort Benning, Georgia.
Athletes nominated to the U.S. Paralympic Team will be selected by a committee based on Paralympic competition performance. The Team will be named on or by July 31, 2016.