Success was again found on the World Cup scene for the USA Shooting Team Wednesday in the season’s first International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) World Cup in Acapulco. But it came from an unexpected contributor, as the U.S. squad, for the second consecutive event, put an individual on the medal stand for their first career World Cup medal.

Monday was Brian Burrows’ (Fallbrook, Calif.) moment with a silver medal in Men’s Trap.  Wednesday belonged to 19-year-old Ian Rupert (Muncy, Pa.) as he led Team USA to the podium once again with the match of his blossoming young career. The youngest finalist of six in the competition, Rupert outdueled India’s 25-year-old Asab Mohd, 25-24 hits in the bronze-medal match.  Rupert had qualified with a new World Record of 136 hits, tied to Pinero, and then finished the Semi-Final in fourth place with 24 hits out of 30 targets.

“It has been a nice match! This is my first time on an ISSF podium, and it feels simply great!” Rupert exclaimed.

Rupert’s teammates Billy Crawford (Johnstown, Ohio) and Kelcey DePatis (Donovan, Ill.) struggled with the new Double Trap format and couldn’t find their rhythm as they finished 19th and 29th. The ISSF Shotgun World Cup in Acapulco will continue Friday with Men’s and Women’s Skeet events. Finals are scheduled to take place on the Friday (women) and Saturday (men).

Through three events, the U.S. squad has earned four spots in the top-six including two medals.   Sunday’s opener brought respectable fifth and sixth place finishes for trap teammates Miranda Wilder (Diana, Texas) and Rachael Heiden (Clinton, Mich.). Ashley Carroll (Solvang, Calif.) finished 10th to earn her first top-10 performance in just her second World Cup appearance.  Wilder and Heiden made it to the semifinal with 73 and 69 hits but were unable to advance in the 15-shot semifinal, hitting 11 and nine targets, respectively.

Over 160 athletes from 27 countries are in Acapulco getting the shooting calendar underway and to ultimately determine who can stand out under the new rules.

The new ISSF rule changes have brought about the most extensive set of modifications in the sports history while implementing a completely new Finals format. After the qualification rounds, which are conducted under the old rules, the top-six shooters advance to a semifinal-a new competition stage. The qualification score is not carried forward as all the semifinalists start from zero.

The six semifinalists compete on a reduced number of stations with 15 targets with the top two advancing to the gold medal match. On the other side, the third and fourth ranked semifinalists enter the bronze medal match.

Acapulco is kicking off the first of four ISSF Shotgun World Cups for 2013. The second World Cup of the season will require travel over to the United Arab Emirates, April 16-25.  Each of the season’s first two World Cups features one of the top-two finishers from the Fall Selection Match plus one of the top-two finishers from the junior division in that competition.

The only Olympian among the 13-member team for the U.S., two-time defending Olympic gold medalist Vincent Hancock (Eatonton, Ga.) gets set to make his 2013 debut. Hancock’s skeet-shooting teammates include Jon Michael McGrath (Tulsa, Okla.), who was in an intense three-way battle for the second Olympic Team spot eventually won by Frank Thompson (Alliance, Neb.) in a shoot-off last Spring in Tucson, Ariz. With five-time Olympic medalist Kim Rhode (El Monte, Calif.) sitting out the spring shooting events awaiting the birth of her first child, room was available for the re-introduction of Haley Dunn (Muenster, Texas) and Jaiden Grinnell (Port Angeles, Wash.). Dunn, the 2001 Junior World Champion, dominated the Fall Selection but hasn’t competed at a World level since 2012. Grinnell re-emerged onto the USA Shooting National Team in convincing style after winning the 2012 National Championships by setting national records for combined (qualifying + final) with a 269 and a qualifying score of 245. Rhode had held those records with a 267 and 242 previously.

“I’m very excited to be a part of the kick-off World Cup for the new quad and look forward to shooting the new round and finals sequence,” said Grinnell. “Old habits die hard in regards to walking from station 7 back to 4 for the pairs but my coach, Matt Dryke [1984 Olympic gold medalist], has made for an easy transition. I feel prepared, but mostly excited to get the competition season going.”

Image courtesy USA Shooting

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