USA Shooting athletes attending the annual Bavarian Airgun Championships in Munich, Germany, last week scored big results in the year’s first major competition including three medals among six finalists.
The 12-person team made up of both men and women air rifle and pistol shooters was selected following results of the Winter Airgun Championships held in November at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo. 2012 Olympian Nick Mowrer (Butte, Mont.) and 2008 Olympian Brian Beaman (Selby, S.D.) were among the athletes participating along with shooters representing three NCAA Division I rifle programs including Kentucky, West Virginia and Murray State.
The results are particularly significant given the number of relative newcomers competing, which generally coincides with the start of any new quad. USA Shooting staff and coaches have identified 2013 as a developmental progression year in which they’ll try and expose as many elite and emerging elite athletes to advance training and competition in order to create depth in all shooting disciplines.
Historically, the Bavarian Airgun Championships is one of the most strongly-contested events outside of the European World Cups. Competition features two days of matches with finals each day for juniors and open. Many countries use this competition for selection purposes for later events. This event also marked the first competition featuring equipment control with the new rules overseen by the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) Rifle Committee along with new finals format to be used in competition.
Highlighting the event for the U.S. contingent were the three event medalists in Men’s Open Air Pistol, Men’s Junior Air Rifle, Women’s Junior Air Rifle.
An early-morning regular on the line at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs where he is a resident athlete, Will Brown (Twin Falls, Idaho) put his exhaustive training to good use in Munich earning a spot in two finals. Brown led all competitors in qualification with a 585/600 and would go on to earn a bronze medal in the Men’s Open Air Pistol event on Friday, January 25 as he and Beaman secured two of the eight finals position among the 76 participating shooters. Brown would follow that with a 581 qualifying score on Saturday to earn a second consecutive trip to the finals. He and Japan’s Tomoyuki Matsuda would be the only two of 16 finalists to earn two finals visits on the weekend.
The Junior Air Rifle events were particularly well-executed by Team USA members with USA Shooting Junior Team members Connor Davis (Shelbyville, Ky.) and Elizabeth Gratz (Sigel, Ill.) securing a gold and silver medal respectively in their events. Already among the top NCAA rifle shooters on the season, Kentucky standout Davis has showcased his rise against top national and international competition recently at the Winter Airgun Championships and now the Bavarian Airgun Championships. He shot a 593/600 qualifying score combined with a leading 206.5 final to earn the victory. His 206.5 final was the third highest mark of all competitors competing in either the men’s open or junior division over four matches.
The 16-year-old Gratz proved wise beyond her years in capturing the silver medal. Entering the final in sixth position after a 396/400 qualification round, Gratz would move up to second with a 206.9 final.
Another notable was Kelsey Emme (Rapid City, S.D.) who earned a finals berth in the Women’s Open Air Final with a 398/400. The Murray State sophomore would be the first finalist eliminated after her eighth shot in the finals to finish eighth.
Men’s Air Rifle
Thursday, January 24 & Saturday January 26
Dempster Christenson (Sioux Fall, S.D.), 45 (592); 44th (591)
Junior Men’s Air Rifle
Thursday, January 24 & Friday, January 25th
Elijah Ellis (Kingsport, Tenn.), 20th (590); 22nd (590)
Connor Davis (Shelbyville, Ky.), 23rd (588); 1st (593 + 206.5)
Garrett Spurgeon (Canton, Mo.), 63rd (570); 46th (583)
Women’s Air Rifle
Friday, January 25 & Saturday, January 26
Kelsey Emme(Rapid City, S.D.), 8th (398 +79.9); 47th (393)
Emily Holsopple (Wilcox, Pa.), 54th (392); 60th (391)
Junior Women’s Air Rifle
Thursday, January 24 & Friday, January 25
Elizabeth Gratz (Sigel, Ill.), 18th (393); 2nd (396 + 206.9)
Men’s Air Pistol
Friday, January 25 & Saturday, January 26
Will Brown (Twin Falls, Idaho), 3rd (585+180.6); 5th (581+137.8)
Brian Beaman (Selby, S.D.), 8th (581+77.7); 12th (580)
Nick Mowrer (Butte, Mont.), 37th (572); 22nd (577)
Junior Men’s Air Pistol – Friday, January 25
Alexander Chichkov (Temple Terrace, Fla.), 19th (564)
Junior Women’s Air Pistol – Friday, January 25
Lydia Paterson (Kansas City, Kan.), 32nd (369)
Image courtesy USA Shooting