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Women’s Rifle Competition Up Next at National Junior Olympics

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado (April 13, 2018)

Though some may be nervous on Friday the 13th, you would never know it from the more than 200 women’s rifle athletes filling the Olympic Training Center campus, eagerly awaiting their chance to compete tomorrow at the 25th annual National Junior Olympic Shooting Championships (NJOSC) for Rifle and Pistol.

While they have their sights set on earning NJOSC medals and National Junior Team nominations, these athletes will also be competing for the chance to represent the United States at the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) World Championship August 31 – September 14 in Changwon, South Korea. For more information on World Championship Team selection procedures for Junior athletes, click here. 

Everyone competing at the NJOSC had to earn the right to compete at this event - only 32 percent of Women’s Air Rifle and 16 percent of Women’s Three-Position Rifle athletes nationally earned invitations to this prestigious match. Invitations to the three-week-long National Junior Olympics were only sent to 763 athletes Rifle and Pistol athletes representing 49 states. These athletes were selected based on their finishes at the state-level Junior Olympic matches which totaled 2,408 competitors. 

This year’s competition will also feature the new ISSF shooting format which means the Women’s Rifle and Air Pistol events will now feature the same number of shots (60) as the men. They will also shoot the same number of shots (120) in Three-Position Rifle. Please note: Qualification scores for women in this match utilized the old ISSF format and were based on 40 shots in Air Rifle and 60 in Three-Position Rifle. 

The week of Women’s Rifle competition starts with Three-Position Rifle. With last year’s top-two finishers in this event aging out of the match, it leaves the door open for new faces to climb atop the NJOSC podium. 

One athlete to watch out for would be the top qualifier in the event, Navy’s Kestrel Kuhne (Everett, Pennsylvania) who earned a score of 586. But don’t count out two-time defending NCAA Smallbore Rifle champ and last year’s NJOSC bronze medalist Morgan Phillips (Salisbury, Maryland). 

In Women’s Air Rifle, last year’s champ and one of this year’s top qualifiers Emily Stith (Jacksonville, Florida) will look to defend her NJOSC title. Stith, who recently joined the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit (USAMU) and also earned a slot to compete in Three-Position Rifle, shares the top Air Rifle score (397) with Kuhne in qualifying for this match. Last year’s NJOSC bronze medalist Casey Lutz (Meridian, Idaho) of TCU will also compete in both events. 

Prior to leaving for the USAMU, Stith trained with the National Training Center Junior Club based in Colorado Springs. The NTC has the largest representation – 14 starts – of any club in the Women’s Rifle competition. 

But hopefully there will be no sibling rivalry on the line as the Buesseler sisters of Stacy, Minnesota (Abby, Allison and Dana) all compete in the Air Rifle event. Abby and Dana also qualified for the Three-Position Rifle event. Women’s Air Rifle also represents the youngest contingent at NJOSC, with 30 athletes in the J3 (ages 14 and younger) category. 

Qualification for Three-Position Rifle takes place over the weekend with Finals Monday afternoon. Qualification for Air Rifle starts Tuesday with Finals on Wednesday afternoon. 

The NJOSC will feature the top 32 percent of all competitors in 2018 and will feature invitees that either won their state championship or were selected based on a score they attained.  The competitors range in age from 10 to 20 years old, and are classified according to age as J1 (ages 18-20), J2 (ages 15-17) or J3.

Find links for schedules for Women’s Rifle, start lists, scores and learn more about NJOSC at http://www.usashooting.org/7-events/njosc/njoscrifle

*Khune photo courtesy of Navy

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