Emmons & Beard Claim Rifle Titles at USA Shooting National Championships

FORT BENNING, Georgia (June 26, 2015)

Victory Drive is one of the major thoroughfares cutting through Fort Benning’s Army Post.  Fittingly, two of today’s champions are on a pretty good victory drive of their own at the USA Shooting National Championships as Matt Emmons and Sarah Beard claimed more hardware Friday while steering their sights toward Rio 2016. 

Emmons (Browns Mills, New Jersey) showcased his readiness in pursuit of a fourth-straight Olympic medal with two big qualifying scores that had the 50-meter range buzzing. Thursday he shot an 1,186/1,200 that broke the National Record and would have tied the world record. Friday, he again laid down big numbers and broke his previous day’s score by one.  

What makes him great?  Even after two worldly marks, he was shaking his head as he came off the line today after shooting back-to-back 9s in the standing position to close out his match.  Just that close to an 1,189.  

Still, his two-day qualifying total plus a win in Thursday’s final earned him a 27-point margin of victory over second-place finisher George Norton (USAMU/Salina, Kansas).  

A dream about a change in his kneeling position is what helped him excel this week.  “I’ve worked really hard on kneeling ever since Munich [World Cup] where it wasn’t working too well.  I had a dream about what I needed to do and I woke up and said ‘that makes sense.’ So, I went and worked on it and it started feeling alright.  I came here and it felt great and started posting the scores I’ve been wanting.”  

Finishing third was recent University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) graduate Ryan Anderson (Wasilla, Alaska). As a result of their podium finishes, all three men earned selection to compete at the upcoming International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) World Cup in Gabala, Azerbaijan.  

UAF great Matt Emmons and UAF current standout Luke Johnson after winning the National and Junior National titles for Men's Three-Position Rifle at the 2015 USA Shooting National ChampionshipsFormer Nanooks Emmons and Anderson applauded the effort shown by current UAF rifle standout Luke Johnson (Marysville, Pennsylvania) in winning the Junior National title. Johnson was the top qualifier and then put the finishing touches on his junior crown with a first place finals finish today.  Joining him as a new National Junior Team member is Murray State sophomore Ivan Roe (Manhattan, Montana) who finished second. Ohio State’s Drew Cheezum (Centreville, Maryland) was third. Roe was third behind Cheezum at the National Junior Olympic Championships earlier this year in Air Rifle. 

Top J2 (15-17 years of age) finisher was Zachary Schmidt (Sudlersville, Maryland) while William Shaner (Colorado Springs, Colorado) was the high J3 (14 years and younger). 

Like Emmons, Beard is on a pretty good run and has shown her love of competing at the home of the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit (USAMU). She earned an Olympic quota on this range last month during World Cup USA. By earning her first ever national title in Air Rifle today, Beard has now earned an astounding 13 medals at Nationals since 2011, including six national titles. Her week isn’t done yet as she has eyes on trying to complete a trifecta, desiring titles in Prone and Three-Position as well.  Beard earned the title behind top qualifying marks both days and earning both wins in both finals.  

“This is always a fun match to see familiar faces and to evaluate how things are working with the shooting positions.  I hadn’t yet won the gold in air rifle at this match, and I’m excited to finally get it this year,” Beard said.  “Huge thanks to everyone for the support, especially my dad and grandpa who drove from Indiana to watch. I’m really looking forward to Prone and 3P up next.” 

Finishing second was West Virginia-bound Virginia Thrasher (Springfield, Virginia), who earns a National Team spot given her result. Bronze medalist was Amy Sowash (Richmond, Kentucky).  All three will represent the USA at the World Cup in Azerbaijan.  

TCU graduate Sarah Beard and Horned Frog sophomore Mindy Miles proudly show off the gold they earned as National and Junior National Champions in Women's Air Rifle from the 2015 USA Shooting National ChampionshipsMindy Miles (Weatherford, Texas), a fellow Texas Christian University rifle shooter, joined in the celebration with Beard to ensure plenty of Horned Frog golden smiles on top of the podium. Miles battled 17-year-old Elizabeth Marsh (Searcy, Arkansas) down to the wire, eventually earning a .4 point margin of victory by virtue of her win in the final over Marsh. Thrasher finished third in the junior division and was the only junior competitor to make both open finals.  

“Though I’m disappointed with my qualification scores, it got me where I needed to be,” admitted Miles.  “My final felt fantastic and everything went very smoothly.  It feels weird to be called a Junior National Champion.  I had a lot of fun shooting and appreciated the support from my friends and family.  And a big thank you to the volunteer staff that helped out on the range.” 

Top J2 finisher was 16-year-old Emily Cock (Silverton, Oregon), who was the surprise of day one after finishing second in the open final. Another Colorado Springs native, Macey Way, was the high J3 (14 years and younger). 

Also winning national titles in non-Olympic events Friday were five-time Olympian Emil Milev (Temple Terrace, Florida) in Standard Pistol, Greg Markowski (USAMU/Columbus, Georgia) in Center Fire Pistol and Glenn Zimmerman (Waterville, Ohio) in Junior Sport Pistol. 

For full results from the 2015 USA Shooting National Championships, click here.   If you are looking for images, please check out our Flickr site

The USA Shooting National Championships now move into competition featuring Men’s and Women’s Air Pistol and Prone Rifle competition set for Saturday and Sunday.  Sunday also begins Men’s Rapid Fire Pistol competition. 

2015 National Championships Schedule

Saturday, June 27 & Sunday, June 28

M/W Air Pistol; Prone Rifle; Paralympic Air Pistol (P1&P2); Rapid Fire Pistol (PET – Saturday; Day 1 Sunday); Paralympic Mixed Prone Rifle (R6)

Monday, June 29 & Tuesday, June 30

Men’s Air Rifle; Men’s Paralympic Air Rifle (R1); Mixed Paralympic Air Rifle (R4); Rapid Fire Pistol (Day 2 Monday); Women’s 3P Rifle; Women’s Paralympic 3P Rifle (R8); Men’s Free Pistol (Day 1 Tuesday); Women’s Sport Pistol (Day 1 Tuesday); Paralympic Mixed 25m Pistol (P3/Day 1 Tuesday); Paralympic Mixed 50m Free Pistol (P4/Day 1 Tuesday)

Wednesday, July 1

Paralympic Mixed Prone Air Rifle (SH1/SH2); Women’s Sport (Day 2); Paralympic Mixed 25m Pistol (P3/Day 2); Men’s Free Pistol (Day 2); Paralympic Mixed 50m Free Pistol (P4/Day 2)

Categories: Press Releases, 2015 USA Shooting Rifle/Pistol National Championships