Forty-five collegiate shotgun competitors took to the range at the National Shooting Complex in San Antonio, Texas, Wednesday hoping to either solidify their National Team standing or earn a coveted spot on the USA Shooting National Development Team.
Partnering with the Association of College Unions International (ACUI)during their Collegiate Clay Target Championships, USA Shooting along with team sponsor Winchester Ammunition, held the First Annual International Shootout (ISO) as a prelude to the Championships. The course of fire for International Bunker Trap and International Skeet was a 75-target Preliminary Round plus Final.
When the dust had settled, USA Shooting’s Youth Programs and Athlete Development Manager Michael Theimer welcomed two new members to the USA Shooting Team, but only after four wild finals that saw none of the four top qualifiers win as competitors were introduced to the new International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) rules in place that throws out qualifying scores in the finals.
In Women’s Skeet, National Team member Caitlin Connor(Winnfield, La.) defeated a top-notch field of competitors that also featured Junior National Team members Brandy Drozd (Bryan, Texas) and Gayla Gregory (College Station, Texas) along with nationally-ranked Morgan Craft (Muncy Valley, Pa.). Drozd would lead after qualifying, shooting a 70/75, which would have gave her five-clay advantage under the previous rules. However, Connor and Craft would both push ahead in the new format with Drozd finishing third and Gregory fourth. Connor, who has medaled in each of the last four USA Shooting National Championships dating back to 2009, will compete at the upcoming ISSF World Cup in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates (UAE) in April.In Men’s Skeet, Lindenwood University’s Ryan Smithart(Oskaloosa, Iowa) beat out teammate and National Junior Team memberDustin Perry (Lovelady, Texas) andDamian Giles of Fort Hays State University to grab the win in Men’s Skeet. Perry would qualify in first position hitting 71/75 targets, but with the new rules, Smithart was able to climb up from his fourth qualifying position to earn the top podium spot. With his win, Smithart earned USA Shooting National Junior Team status for the first time in his young career.
In Men’s Trap, Andrew Reed, competing for the University of Texas-Arlington, withstood the constant pressure of National Development Team member Casey “Jake” Wallace (Castiac, Calif.) to secure victory. Ian Dupre of Hillsdale College would finish third. With his win, Reed also earned USA Shooting National Junior Team status.
In Women’s Trap, USA Shooting National Team member Miranda Wilder(Diana, Texas) of Schreiner University had little trouble separating from the competition once the event Finals began. Ashley Nau of Fort Hays State University andKassidee Dunford of the University of Utah finished second and third, respectively. At the recent International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) World Cup in Acapulco, Mexico, Wilder finished fifth overall, making it to the semifinal with 73/75 hits. She was unable to advance in the 15-shot semifinal, hitting 11. Wilder, a four-time National Junior Olympic champion, has finished runner-up at the past two USA Shooting National Championships and was the 2010 Junior World Champion.
Participants consisted of the top six competitors in the men and women’s division from the ACUI International Divisional Championships earlier this year in Tucson, Ariz., and Ft. Benning, Ga., as well as college athletes that participated in the ACUI Divisional Championships but did not make the top six, and finally by any athlete who has participated in a USAS-sanctioned event in the last 12 months.
ACUI has organized the collegiate clay target championships for 45 years, the last 20 years at the National Shooting Complex. This week’s event will feature 550 collegiate athletes from over 60 colleges and universities taking part in competition featuring all the major disciplines of shotgun including: American Skeet and Trap; International Skeet & Trap; 5-stand and Sporting Clays.
Founded in 1914, ACUI is a nonprofit educational organization that brings together college union and student activities professionals from hundreds of schools in seven countries. Its members work on urban and rural campuses, in two-year and four-year institutions, and at large and small schools.
Images courtesy USA Shooting