A month ago, America’s best Double Trap competitors were facing the prospect of watching the upcoming Olympic Games from home. All, that is, with the exception of Josh Richmond (USAMU/Hillgrove, Pa.), who by virtue of his World Cup and World Championships success the past two years was the lone USA Shooting Double Trap athlete with his spot secure on the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team.
Fast forward a month, and the International Shooting Sports Federation’s (ISSF) recent decision to reallocate an Olympic Quota Spot to USA Shooting after Jamie Gray’s (Lebanon, Pa.) double qualification in both Olympic air and smallbore (.22 caliber) rifle events has changed all that. USA Shooting’s double trap competitors were the beneficiaries of the reallocation and with one more spot available there will be even greater intrigue for this year’s double trap competition at the upcoming 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Shotgun, May 17-20.
The U.S. has had recent success in men’s double trap with Staff Sergeant Richmond securing the 2012 Olympic berth by winning the 2010 World Championships, winning medals at two World Cup events in 2011 and most recently earning bronze at the Tucson World Cup. Sergeant Glenn Eller (USAMU/Katy, Texas) is the reigning Olympic gold medalist, but before the ISSF decision and Gray’s performance, the 2011 World Championships bronze medalist was still on the outside looking in along with the rest of USA Shooting’s double trap team members. Also in contention now for that second quota spot in men’s double trap are reigning Junior World champion Billy Crawford (Johnstown, Ohio), who made his first World Cup final at the recently concluded London World Cup, and 2008 Olympian Sergeant Jeff Holguin (USAMU/Yorba Linda, Calif.).
With Richmond’s spot confirmed, Eller, a three-time Olympian, holds a four-point advantage over his nearest competitors. Eller emerged as the front runner following the Fall Selection/U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Shotgun that took place Sept. 30 – Oct. 1, 2011, in Kerrville, Texas. In the first 300 targets of the Trials, Eller nailed 275 despite windy conditions the first day. Crawford finished four behind Eller with 271 targets. Holguin shot 270 targets for third place while Derek Haldeman (USAMU/Sunbury, Ohio) was one down with 269 targets. Kelcey Depatis (Donovan, Ill.) broke 256 targets for fifth place and Ian Rupert (Muncy, Pa.) shot 252 targets.
With the top three shooters within five targets of each other, and the top six separated by only 23 targets, the match for that elusive Olympic Team berth will bring fierce competition. Eller and Holguin hold a decisive advantage given their Olympic and World Cup experience, but Crawford’s surprising finish in London might give the 19-year-old the confidence he needs to go toe-to-toe with the sport’s best this time around. Don’t count out Haldeman either as he competes side-by-side with Eller and Holguin as teammates on the U.S. Army’s Marksmanship Unit (USAMU).
The 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Shotgun will take place at the Tucson Trap & Skeet Club (TTSC) outside Tucson, Ariz., and will feature action in all of shotgun’s respective disciplines including Trap (M/W), Skeet (M/W) and Men’s Double Trap. However, Olympic spots will only be available in women’s trap (1), men’s skeet (2) and men’s double trap (1).
Many of the competitors expected to participate will be familiar with the Tucson Trap and Skeet Club after competing there during the International Shooting Sports Federation (ISSF) World Cup event March 25-31. The U.S. Team led all participating nations in winning five medals, including three gold.
Overall, five Beijing Olympians will be competing in the Trials including: Men’s Skeet Olympic gold medalist Vincent Hancock (USAMU/Eatonton, Ga.); Sean McClelland (Mission, Texas), a skeet shooter who finished 11th in Beijing; Corey Cogdell (Eagle River, Alaska), a women’s trap bronze medalist from Beijing; along with Eller and Holguin.
USA Shooting will preview the Men’s and Women’s Skeet competition on Tuesday, May 8, followed by the Trap outlook on Thursday, May 10.
2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Shotgun Competition Schedule:
- Thursday, May 17 – Official Training (all disciplines)
- Friday, May 18 – Trap & Skeet (100 Targets), Double Trap (150 Targets)
- Saturday, May 19 – Trap & Skeet (100 Targets), Double Trap (150 Targets + FINAL)
- Sunday, May 20 – Trap & Skeet (50 Targets + FINAL)
The TTSC has served southern Arizona’s shooting sportsman since its original incorporation in 1948. The club has been in its present location, west of historic Tucson, since early 1976 when construction on the 80-acre site was completed. In preparation for the 2012 World Cup and its designated as a USA Shooting Certified Training Center, the club added 300 acres, five international bunker traps and seven new skeet fields.