During the month of April, junior shooters take the spotlight at the U.S. Shooting Center in Colorado Springs. The 2012 National Junior Olympic Shooting Championships (NJOSC) begins on Friday with competition in women’s rifle events and will conclude on April 30.
Nearly 350 shooters will walk the halls of USA Shooting as they continue on the path to their Olympic dreams. These athletes qualified for an invitation to the NJOSC with top scores in their respective State Junior Olympic Championships. The competitors range in age from 12 to 20 years old, and are classified as J1, J2 or J3 shooters depending on their age. These juniors will be treated to an Olympic experience the week of their events-including staying in the U.S. Olympic Training Center (OTC) dorms, eating at the athlete’s cafeteria and shooting clinics.
“The Junior Olympic Shooting Championships is the next step in the development of any junior shooter and his or her Olympic Path,” said National Rifle Coach Major Dave Johnson. “The competition offers the chance to earn a spot-given to the top two finishers in each rifle event-on the National Junior Rifle Team.”
Additionally, the top two finishers in the pistol events will be awarded a spot on the National Junior Team. This is especially important to help foster up-and-coming talent and allow the athletes to earn training and competition opportunities with the USA Shooting Team.
An overwhelming majority of the National Team members competed in a NJOSC event at some time during their careers. Former NJOSC shooter Amanda Furrer (Spokane, Wash.) is now a member of the National Rifle Team and a Resident Athlete at the OTC training for the U.S. Olympic Team Trials in Smallbore. “NJOSC was one of the most influential things that I have participated in my shooting career,” said Furrer. “The experience gave me the desire to pursue a collegiate shooting career [Ohio State University] and furthered my Olympic shooting dreams.”
The women’s rifle events will take place from April 13-17. There are nearly 100 registered athletes from 36 states for Women’s 10m Air Rifle, which will culminate in the event final at 1:30 p.m. MST on April 15. The state with the largest contingent is Pennsylvania with 10 athletes, which is also the home of reigning Women’s 10m Air Rifle and Women’s 50m Rifle Three Position 2011 NJOSC National Champion Emily Holsopple (Wilcox, Pa.).
Several of the air rifle athletes will stay on through the week to compete in Women’s 50m Rifle Three Position on April 16 and 17. With a field of 64 competitors, Pennsylvania leads again with 10 shooters followed by Massachusetts (5) and North Dakota (4) and Washington (4). The women’s smallbore final will be held at 5:15 p.m. on April 17.
The rifle action continues with competition in Men’s 10m Air Rifle, Men’s 50m Rifle Three Position and Men’s 50m Rifle Prone from April 19-24. Tyler Rico (Tucson, Ariz.), last year’s NJOSC J2 gold medalist in air rifle, is now a J1 shooter and looks to break into the final with another year of training under his belt. Other notable contenders are National Junior Team members Connor Davis(Shelbyville, Ky.), Michael Liuzza (New Orleans, La.) and Ryan Anderson (Great Falls, Va.). The Men’s 10m Air Rifle final will be held on April 21 at 1:30 p.m. MST.
The men’s smallbore field is highlighted by National Junior Teamers Davis, Liuzza and Michael Matthews (Johns Creek, Ga.). There are 62 registered competitors from 30 states. Davis is the reigning Men’s 50 Rifle Three Position NJOSC Champion. Both smallbore finals will be held consecutively beginning at 5:00 p.m. MST on April 24.
The final week of NJOSC competition begins with Women’s and Men’s 10m Air Pistol-a combined field of nearly 100 athletes. In Men’s 10m Air Pistol, National Junior Team (NJT) athlete Marshall Matters (Rapid City, S.D.) was last year’s silver medalist and looks to maintain a spot on the podium again. Also competing are fellow NJT members Calvin Li (Great Falls, Va.) and Joseph Totts(Mogadore, Ohio). Their female counterparts on the NJT are Taylor Gallegos (Prosper, Texas), Darian Shenk (Annville, Pa.) and Starlin Shi (Potomac, Md.). The Men’s 10m Air Pistol and Women’s 10m Air Pistol finals will be April 28 at 11:30 p.m. MST and 3:30 p.m.
The majority of the NJT members who are shooting air pistol will also compete in the Men’s and Women’s Sport Pistol event. Reigning champions Totts and Shi look to defend their respective titles. Given the nature of this event, the field is significantly smaller than the air events with only 13 athletes in Women’s Sport Pistol and 16 in Men’s Sport Pistol. The Men’s Sport finals will be held on April 29 at 2:00 p.m. MST and the Women’s Sport final will be the following day at 2:00 p.m. MST.
For scores, please visit USA Shooting’s match results page following each competition.