The rules have changed and so too has the game of competitive shooting as witnessed by competitors at the 2013 Rocky Mountain Rifle Championships in Colorado Springs this past weekend. Five champions in all were crowned among the 40-plus competitors as the 2013 competitive season for USA Shooting got underway.
Gone are the days in which elite shooters could jump out to a big lead in qualifying and strengthen their position in the final. With the newly instituted rules put in place by the sport’s international federation, the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF), the mere ability to be one of the seven finalists gives you as equal a shot as anyone else. Case in point, in three of the five finals this weekend, shooters who stood 35, 20 and 19 points out of first after qualifying scored a high enough finals in the new zero-start format to come back and win the event. Previously, all qualifying scores carried over to the finals, but now under the new rules being implemented, all finalists start with a “zero” score and the results of the final determine the winner.
“This new zero-start final really shook up a veteran field,” noted USA Shooting Director of Operations Dave Johnson. “This event served as a great opportunity to train athletes, staff and officials in a low-key environment on a new system. The results ultimately highlight the game-changing effects this type of format will have on all of us and the shooters in particular will have to adjust accordingly.”
Dan Geer (Colorado Springs, Colo.) was 35 points down and in sixth position behind qualifying leader Dempster Christenson(Sioux Falls, S.D.) in Men’s Air Rifle, only to outscore everyone in a 20-shot final. Christenson, owning a six-shot advantage after qualifying, would fail to medal, finishing fifth. Shawn McKenna (Colorado Springs, Colo.) and Nicholas Daviscourt (Lone Tree, Colo.) would finish second and third respectively.
Christenson, a recent addition to the National Development Team, came out on both sides of the new finals format having overcome a poor qualifying total the previous day in Men’s Prone Rifle event. Qualifying 19 points lower than the qualifying leader and four-time OlympianJason Parker (USAMU/Omaha, Neb.), Christenson would out-shoot two Olympians including Michael McPhail(USAMU/Darlington, Wis.) to capture the victory. Christenson’s two medals on the weekend were the most of any of the competitors in the men’s division.
USAMU’s Hank Gray (Belgrade, Mont.) also used the new zero-start finals format to win the Men’s 3-position. Down 20 points after qualifying, Gray would out-shoot Christenson by .8 points to win gold. National Junior Team member Daniel Lowe (Olympia, Wash.) finished third behind Gray and Christenson in the Men’s 3P event.
The women’s events wouldn’t carry the same dramatic turnover as the men’s events saw.Rachel Martin (Peralta, N.M.) and Japanese shooter Seiko Iwata battled for top honors in two events among the female entrants competing. Martin scored a victory in Women’s Air Rifle and a third place in three-position. Iwata, meanwhile, won the 3P event and finished second to Martin in Air Rifle.
Erin Lorenzen (Fort Wayne, Ind.) was the highest ranking U.S. shooter finishing second behind Iwata in Women’s 3P whileMinden Miles (Weatherford, Texas) picked up a bronze medal in Women’s Air Rifle to round out the weekend’s medalists.
Image courtesy USA Shooting