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Olympic Shooting: Double Trap and Free Pistol PREVIEW

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado (August 9, 2016)

They’ve waited four years and eight days to issue a response. Wednesday in Rio they hope for their day of reckoning in Men’s Double Trap.  Both Josh Richmond and Glenn Eller were quiet and peeved walking off the range in London four years ago, consequences of 16th and 22nd-place finishes from two men that have built a career résumé in the sport in which only medals are truly gratifying.     

The 2008 Olympic gold medalist Eller (Katy, Texas) is back after earning fifth-straight Olympic Team nomination in Double Trap. The U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit (USAMU) athlete becomes the first American male in the Shotgun discipline to make five Olympic Teams in his career.  He is a two-time World Champ (2003 & 2013) and four-time World Championships medalist that has earned another 15 World Cup medals, including eight victories.  His latest medal came on this range when he claimed bronze in April.   

ATHLETE EXTRA: Stellar Eller

Eller’s USAMU teammate, Richmond, is a 12-time World Cup medalist, including six wins, the last one coming in June in San Marino. He also owns two World titles and another junior world crown as well.  He spent the past four years trying to find the right solution toward redemption and built toward Wednesday as 2016 has progressed. He got a sneak peek of the ranges he’ll now shoot on in Rio when he was a shoot-off away from reaching the Finals during the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) World Cup in Brazil back in April. He also finished just one target out of a potential Finals berth at the ISSF World Cup in Cyprus in March.

On how he hopes Rio will be different from his experience in London, Richmond states: “I feel like I left a lot on the table last time in London, but until you get into the Olympics, it’s really hard to prepare for the excitement and amount of new experiences you’re just not used to dealing with. I’m looking forward to going back, staying humble and making that day our day.”

Richmond’s hometown of Hillsgrove, Pennsylvania is located in Sullivan County, the smallest county in the state with just 6,351 people. Richmond’s 2016 U.S. Olympic teammate Morgan Craft (Muncy Valley, Pennsylvania) just so happens to be from the same county. Craft earned her U.S. Olympic Team nomination in Women’s Skeet through the Olympic Points System. 

“I graduated in a class of 60 people in my hometown and there’s more cows than people and just one red light, so to think this is happening is unreal,” Richmond said.  “The impact that we’ve had in the shooting sports mostly due to the junior programs we’ve had, the coaching we have through Les Greevy and other volunteers, and the North Mountain Sportsman Association is just tremendous.  What started out as a hobby hanging out with family and friends has now turned into this and we’re going to be in the limelight hanging out on the biggest stage in the world.” 

ATHLETE EXTRA:  Richmond fulfills responsibilities as an Army Olympian

Doubles Dominance – Eller and Richmond count themselves lucky to be the representatives of the world’s most talented double trap unit. Army teammates, buddies and rivals Jeff Holguin and Derek Haldeman are forced to sit this Olympics out, which, no question, is as strong an indicator as there is about the overall depth of U.S. Men’s Double Trap team.  Holguin competed at the 2008 Olympic Games and finished fourth overall. No doubt he had his best quad ever this go around, earning four World Cup medals since 2014, including three wins.  Holguin finished second to Josh Richmond at Olympic Trials by 11 points, with Eller earning his spot on the Olympic Points System.  Haldeman was a 2015 bronze medalist in the Acapulco World Cup, finished fourth that same year in Al Ain, UAE while also making the Final of the 2013 World Championships. He finished third overall in Trials.

In 45 events since 2008 including Olympic Games, World Championships, World Cup Finals and World Cups, an American has failed to finish lower than sixth only 10 times. During that same span, the U.S. Men’s Double Trap Team has won 29 medals in 45 events.

The current world No. 1 is Australia’s James Willett while Great Britain’s Tim Kneale currently owns the world record with 148 targets hit out of 150.  Defending Olympic champ Peter Wilson retired after London. Russia’s Vasily Mosin is the reigning World Champion and 2012 Olympic bronze medalist who has earned another 12 World Cup medals throughout his career.

Format:  During Qualification, 150 Targets are thrown, divided in five rounds of 30 targets (15 doubles) each. Top six athletes advance to a semifinal round, where they shoot 30 targets (15 doubles) each, firing from each of the five stations three times. Top two athletes advance to the gold-medal final with the next two advancing to the bronze-medal match where they shoot another 30 targets (15 doubles) from stations 2, 3 and 4.  All ties are broken by sudden death shoot-offs.  

Qualification – 8:00 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. ET

Finals – 2:00 p.m.  | FINALS LIVESTREAM starting at 2:00 p.m. ET

Jay Shi.  Photo credit DeWitt Photos 

Men’s Free Pistol Review

Jay Shi and Will Brown take the stage again in Olympic shooting’s unquestioned most difficult event.  Both athletes have shown the ability to get the type of results necessary to earn a Finals bid. In Free Pistol, athletes shoot over a distance of 50 meters or a little more than half a football field in standing position using a .22 caliber pistol with no weight restriction. The center of the target total diameter measures to 1.64 feet (a little bigger than a large pizza from Domino’s). The diameter of the 10th ring measures two inches which is just a little bigger than a golf ball. The reason this discipline is referred to as “Free Pistol” is because of the seemingly lack of rules and restrictions regarding the trigger weight and the structure of the custom made grips for the guns, but this sport is no free ride for the athletes.

Shi was 18th Saturday in Air Pistol. Now he is ready to move on to his specialty event. Shi had a commanding performance at the U.S. Olympic Trials in this event where he earned a 26-point advantage, garnering him a spot on the U.S. Olympic Shooting Team. Immediately after earning his Team slot, Shi backed it up by earning a Finals spot on this very range in Rio, finishing eighth.  He was 13th earlier in the year in Bangkok, Thailand.

ATHLETE EXTRA: More about Shi’s perfect year in the making 

Having had the experience of a fourth-place finish in this event at the 2015 Munich World Cup as well as two World Cup medals in Air, Brown is no novice to the international stage. He finished 12th in Air Pistol Saturday, three points shy of the score needed to earn a possible Finals spot.   

ATHLETE EXTRA: Learn more about Brown’s coolness under pressure 

The current Free Pistol World Record was set by world No. 1 and reigning Olympic champion Jongoh Jin of Korea. He set the world record in 2014 when he shot an incredible 583/600. He is one of three active shooters with five Olympic medals on his resume. The U.S. has won a total of nine medals in this event, but has not been able to secure a medal since 1964 when Franklin Green won the silver medal in Tokyo, Japan.

Format: In qualification, competitors fire 60 shots within one hour and thirty minutes. The qualifications are scored in integer points, with the maximum score per shot being 10 points, and the maximum qualification score being 600 points. The top-eight athletes advance to the final match, where they can shoot up to 20 final shots. The maximum score for each shot is 10.9 points, because of an additional set of ten rings within the 10-point circle that increases the score of 0.1 points as it approaches the center of the target. This sets the highest possible score at 218.0 points. The eight finalists start the match with zero points: the qualification score is not carried forward into the final round. The final begins with two series of three shots, to be fired within 150 seconds, followed by fourteen single shots to be fired on command and within 50 seconds. After the eighth final shot, the athlete with the lowest aggregate score is eliminated from the final and places eighth. Any following elimination is determined every two shots until the gold and silver medalists are decided by the 20th conclusive shot. If there is a tie for the lowest ranking athlete to be eliminated, the tied athletes will fire additional tie-breaking single shots until the tie is broken.

Qualification – 8:00 – 9:30 a.m. ET

Finals – 11:00 a.m.  | FINALS LIVESTREAM starting at 11:00 a.m. ET

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