With high temperatures in Colorado Springs expected to be in the mid-60s throughout the week, it won’t feel anything like winter for participants of the 2012 Winter Airgun Championships, but more than 225 athletes are expected to arrive ready to test their shooting mettle among the nation’s best airgun competitors.

USA Shooting will welcome back to competition three 2012 Olympians includingSarah Scherer (Woburn, Mass.), Amanda Furrer (Spokane, Wash.) and Nick Mowrer (Butte, Mont.)   Scherer made the Olympic finals in her first Games and finished seventh despite a severe elbow injury that even left her participation in doubt in lead-up to her event.  Furrer’s specialty is the smallbore (.22 caliber) event where she finished 15th in London. Mowrer made the team in the Free Pistol event finishing 15th but is looking to make his mark in air pistol events as well as we enter the new quad.

“Since the Olympic Games, I took a nice long break from shooting, and am finally getting back into practice,” said Furrer. “I am planning on making air rifle more of a priority this quad, so I figured I would kick off the year with an air rifle championship! I’ve been busy trying to keep up with school so I haven’t practiced as much as I would have liked, but I have to start somewhere. I am using this match to ramp back into training and competing on the national/international circuit. This is a great competition to test out some new techniques I’ve been working on and to target what I need to work on from here.”

In addition, two other pistol Olympians will be among those stepping to the firing line later this week.  Brian Beaman (Selby, S.D.) was a 2008 Olympian where he finished fourth in the men’s air pistol.  The ageless Libby Callahan (Columbian, S.C.), a four-time Olympian, will compete as well.  Callahan, 60, made Olympic history in 2008 becoming the oldest U.S. women to compete in the Olympic Games at the age of 56.  Also, Morgan Wallizer (formerly Hicks) is competing in Air Pistol after making the 2004 Olympic Team in Rifle.  She recently took up residence at the Olympic Training Center.

Other Olympians competing include three-time Olympic medalist Katy Emmons along withPetra Zubasling.  Emmons has earned both a gold and silver medal in the Women’s 10m Air Rifle event having stepped to the top of the podium in 2008 while finishing fourth this past summer in London. Shooting for her native Czech Republic, Emmons also won a silver medal in the Smallbore Three-Position Rifle event in Beijing as well. Emmons and her husband, Matt, have a combined six medals between them. Zubasling is a collegiate shooter for the No. 2-ranked West Virginia Mountaineers who competed for Italy in London finishing 12th in both air and smallbore rifle events. She owns a 599/600 and a pair of 597s thus far in the collegiate rifle season.

A total of 34 shooters representing USA Shooting’s National, Junior and Development Teams will be competing.  Competitive edge for this weekend’s event will go to the numerous collegiate shooters in attendance led by Scherer who is demonstrating her air rifle prowess yet again for the defending NCAA National Rifle Champions, the TCU Horned Frogs. Through six air rifle matches, Scherer hasn’t shot lower than 596/600 and owns a 599 and two 598s on the year thus far.  Five other Horned Frog teammates including fellow National Team athlete Sarah Beard (Indianapolis, Ind.) and Junior Team memberCatherine Greene (Coventry, R.I.) will join Scherer in Colorado Springs.

“I am just excited to shoot again in Colorado,” said Scherer.  “I have set some performance goals for myself continuing with my NCAA season.”

Kentucky freshman and Junior Team member Connor Davis (Shelbyville, Ky.) shot a personal-best and school-record tying 597 in his last match against TCU and will be looking to replicate that performance at the Olympic Training Center.  He’ll be joined by Wildcat and Junior teammate Emily Holsopple (Wilcox, Pa.) who shot a 592/600 back on Oct. 13. Other collegiate notables are a Mountaineer contingent that includes not only Zubasling but Junior Team member Garrett Spurgeon (Canton, Mo.) along with Thomas Kyanko (Wellsburg, W. Va.), Meelis Kiisk (Paide, Estonia) and Daniel Sojka (Cracow, Poland).  All five of these Mountaineers have shot a 590 or above during the first half of the collegiate season.

Sixteen athletes having shot 590 or better during the collegiate rifle season to date will be competing come Friday.

Competition in the four contested airgun events begins Friday at 8 a.m. with Men’s Air Rifle and will conclude after three event days on Sunday with the final of the Junior Women’s Air Pistol.  Qualification begins at 8:00 am on Friday and Saturday with a 7:00 am start set for Sunday.  Event finals begin at 12:30 pm Friday and Saturday and get underway at 11:30 am on Sunday.  For all USA Shooting event results, check the MATCH RESULTSsection of the USA Shooting website. 

Awards will be presented to the top three finishers in both the Open and Junior categories. Awards for the Open and Junior Categories will be presented at the conclusion of each match day. High scoring awards will be presented to the top Visitor, Collegiate, Disabled, and Senior, provided there are at least three competitors in each category, on the last day of the match.

Image courtesy Daniel Shirey /US Presswire.

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