RIO IN SIGHT: USA Shooting Team Set for World Cup Opener in Thailand

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado (February 29, 2016)

Rapid Fire Pistol Shooter Keith Sanderson is one of three athletes already qualified for the 2016 Olympic Games that will compete in the season-opening World Cup in Bangkok, Thailand.The Olympic Year has come and 21 USA Shooting Team athletes will test their readiness against the world's best at the season-opening International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) World Cup set for Bangkok, Thailand, March 3-8.  

Three athletes having already secured their tickets to Rio will compete including three-time Olympic medalist Matt Emmons (Browns Mills, New Jersey), 2012 Olympian Michael McPhail (U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit/Darlington, Wisconsin) and two-time Olympian Keith Sanderson (Army WCAP/Colorado Springs, Colorado).  

Emmons will compete in all three rifle disciplines (Air, Prone and Three-Position).  A trip to his fourth Olympic Games already secure for Three-Position, Emmons will be looking to add more to his plate come April when he competes at the Olympic Team Trials for Smallbore hoping to earn a spot in Prone and then he's eyeing a potential Air Rifle spot in June despite giving up that event this entire quad. 

"Bangkok is an important part of my training plan for this year. I started competing again last month and now it’s time to ramp it up a little more with a World Cup," said Emmons. "More importantly, though, as we move forward to Olympic Trials, Bangkok is really my only good outdoor training/competition opportunity before April’s tryout. It’s a place I’ve historically done very well at, is a difficult range, and is windy. Honestly, it’s about the perfect tune-up for me. I wouldn’t say I’m where I want to be quite yet, but Bangkok is a step in the process, so that’s why I’m going. I need to go test myself against the World’s best at a challenging venue, then continue forward filling in the gaps in my game."

McPhail will try to replicate the stellar season he had in 2015 which led him to being ranked as the world's No. 1 Prone Rifle shooter. Sanderson is anxious to get back to world-level competition in Rapid Fire Pistol as he primes himself in search of his first Olympic medal.  

“This is an opportunity to work up and get ready,” said Sanderson. “I’m treating every World Cup this season as a mini-Olympics and going to each one with the same mindset and preparation I need to compete for a medal in Rio.  If I find something that doesn’t work, then I can fix it before the next one.  It’s all about tweaking the process and making sure you’re ready.”

“I feel that the athletes are taking it as a serious opportunity to compete at the levels they should be at to be in contention of making the Olympic Team and competing for the podium at the Games,” said National Team Pistol Coach Sergey Luzov. “I expect to see them capable of making finals and compete for the podium in Bangkok. Some athletes are going there to get an MQS (Minimum Qualifying Score), and those I saw training, are doing a good job preparing. I do not see any touristy attitudes, which really makes me feel good about this World Cup.”

London 2012 Olympians Nick Mowrer (Butte, Montana) and Sarah Scherer (Woburn, Massachusetts) will also compete. Mowrer is looking to find the type of consistency in the Pistol events that he showcased during his Olympic run in 2012. Scherer is full of energy and excitement ahead of her World Cup return after suffering through a devastating back injury that forced two surgeries and 18-months away from a sport she loves.  She'll hope to return to the form that saw her earn a Three-Position bronze medal in the last World Cup she competed in before injury forced her away. She's been good since her return to the gun in late September, finishing second overall at Winter Airgun and finishing second in Three-Position at Rocky Mountain Rifle. No matter the result, just being back is a blessing.  

"I am very much excited and ready to compete again more than anything," she said. "Of course, there are some nerves concerning the travel to and from Bangkok but hard work, PT, and lots of prep has allowed me to feel very confident that nothing will go wrong. I am ready to compete again for the USA."

Two other notable participants including 16-year-old Emily Stith (Colorado Springs, Colorado) whose performance at Rocky Mountain Rifle and the January Selection Match helped earn an invite to compete in Bangkok to try and earn her MQS in Three-Position Rifle.  She warmed up for her international debut by shooting a Performance Standard Score (PSS) of 584 on February 22.  

Making her USA Shooting Team debut in Women's Sport Pistol will be Natalia Granada Gomez (New York City, New York), who is no stranger to international competition having competed in eight previous World Cups as a part of the Colombian National Team.  She was granted U.S. citizenship recently and will compete at the Olympic Trials in April after finishing second in a January selection match. 

Follow all the World Cup action via the ISSF website.

USA Shooting Team Roster


*Chance Cover (Anniston, Alabama)

*Elijah Ellis (Kingsport, Tennessee)

Matt Emmons (Browns Mills, New Jersey)

*Matt Liao (Yorba Linda, California)

Michael McPhail (USAMU/Darlington, Wisconsin)

Lucas Kozeniesky (Camp Lejeune, North Carolina)

*Matt Rawlings (Fairbanks, Alaska)

Ivan Roe (Manhattan, Montana)

Sarah Beard (Danville, Indiana)

Emily Holsopple (Wilcox, Pennsylvania)

Sarah Scherer (Woburn, Massachusetts)

*Emily Stith (Colorado Springs, Colorado)

*Hannah Black (Richmond, Virginia)


Will Brown (Twin Falls, Idaho)

*James Hall (Spartanburg, South Carolina)

*Jason Herndon (Missoula, Montana)

Nick Mowrer (Army WCAP/Butte, Montana)

Jay Shi (Phoenix, Arizona)

Keith Sanderson (Army WCAP/Colorado Springs, Colorado)

Brad Balsley (USAMU/Uniontown, Pennsylvania)

Natalia Granada Gomez (New York City, New York)

*Athletes shooting for an Minimum Qualifying Score (MQS) and not eligible for medals.

World Cup Bangkok Schedule

Thursday, March 3 -- M/W Air Rifle; Women's Sport Pistol Day 1

Friday, March 4 --Men's Free Pistol; Women's Sport Pistol Day 2 + Final; Prone Rifle Elimination

Saturday, March 5 -- Men's Prone Rifle; Men's Air Pistol 

Sunday, March 6 -- Women's Air Pistol; Women's Three-Position Rifle; Men's Rapid Fire Pistol Day 1

Monday, March 7 -- Men's Rapid Fire Pistol Day 2 + Final

Tuesday, March 8 -- Men's Three-Position Rifle

Categories: Press Releases
National Shooting Sports Foundation