With eyes toward the future, more than 140 of the nation’s best international trap shooters are taking final preparation rounds in anticipation of the 2012 Fall Selection Match at the Hill Country Shooting Sports Center outside Kerrville, Texas.  Shooting begins Friday and wraps up Sunday after 275 targets have flown.

For the women competing, there’s an intensity building given the parity that perhaps tops any in the USA Shooting Shotgun ranks.  For the men, opportunity begins anew trying to erase the dissatisfaction with having not qualified an eligible shooter for the 2012 Olympic Games.

In Women’s Trap, Corey Cogdell (Eagle River, Alaska), Kayle Browning (Wooster, Ark.) and Rachael Heiden (Clinton, Mich.) will be looking to garner top honors.  The two-time Olympian and 2008 Olympic bronze medalist Cogdell is eager to get to the line in Kerrville.

“After a long shooting season, it feels great to be shooting the last match of the year and working towards selecting the team for the first two World Cups of next season,” said Cogdell. “I know many of us have been training hard for this match and the competition will be strong.”

Browning comes into the Fall Selection Match brimming with confidence after a year in which she finished second at the Olympic Trials, earned her first World Cup (bronze in London) and recently climbing into the top-six at the World Cup Finals in Slovenia.

“It was such an honor to go to the World Cup Final,” said Browning.  “Coming off that and heading into Fall Selection, the last shoot of the year, I’m going to try and finish out the year as strong as I can and put me in position for an even better 2013.”

Reigning National Champion Heiden has rebounded from a disappointing 2011 season and climbed out of the abyss at the Olympic Trials to finish among the finalists. She earned her second title in three years this past July in Colorado Springs.

“I’m really looking forward to starting the Selection Match knowing it’s the kick-off to our 2016 quad,” said Heiden. “It’s always a good time with good competition. Sure to be felt is that eagerness from the other competitors as we look to select a few World Cup Teams.”

Other top competitors include Olympic Trials finalists Miranda Wilder (Diana, Texas), the National Championships runner-up. Caitlin Barney Weinheimer (Kerrville, Texas) has the huge advantage of shooting this match at her home training grounds which has proved successful in the past as she jumped to a big lead in the first round of the Olympic Trials in Kerrville in the Spring of 2011.  A notable absence in the field will be Kelsey Zauhar (Lakeville, Minn.) who has decided to take some time away from the gun but should return in time for spring selection.

Others to watch include Janessa Beaman(Colorado Springs, Colo.), Kate Bonn (Portland, Ore.) and Kerrville’s own Victoria Burch after their performances at the National Championships that saw them finish third, fourth, and sixth respectively.

In Men’s Trap, five of the six National Championship finalists including current National Champion Brian Burrows(Fallbrook, Calif.) and three-time Olympian and 1996 Olympic bronze medalist Lance Bade (Vancouver, Wash.) will be competing. Collin Wietfeldt (Hemlock, Mich.), Jake Wallace (Castaic, Calif.) andJohn Mullins (Port Orchard, Wash.) round out the top notables along with National Junior champion Matt Gossett (Springville, Ala.).  Missing from the competition will be five-time National Championship medalistJake Turner (Richland, Wash.) who has left the resident program in Colorado Springs to focus on obtaining his degree having enrolled at Washington State University for the winter/spring semester.

The Fall Selection match is being shot in two phases with the skeet and double trap disciplines having marched to the range last week with Haley Dunn (St. Joe, Texas) andVincent Hancock (Eatonton, Ga.) taking top honors.  World Cup slots are being awarded from this match for the first two International Shooting Sports Federation (ISSF) World Cups of 2013.

Shooters who have grown accustomed to the current shooting format for the Olympic-shooting sports will savor the Fall Selection Match which will be shot under the current 2008-12 ISSF rules as several changes will be in effect starting in 2013.  For a look at the format changes likely to be adopted at the November ISSF meeting, click here.

Image courtesy USA Shooting

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