Twenty-three of USA Shooting’s elite shotgun competitors will try to defend their home-field advantage beginning Sunday, March 25, when action in the 2012 International Shooting Sports Federation (ISSF) Shotgun World Cup gets underway in Tucson, Ariz.

USA Shooting (USAS) is expecting more than 250 competitors to participate in the weeklong event.  With many highly-ranked shooters set to descend upon the Arizona desert, including shooters from 42 countries and a strong U.S. squad, the action will be intense as the ISSF kicks off its 2012 World Cup season.

The Tucson Trap & Skeet Club, an official USAS Certified Training Center, will stage the event that will serve as one of three final World Cup stops contested prior to the 2012 Olympic Games in London.  Shooters will compete in the three different international shotgun events of trap, double trap and skeet.

Among the 250-plus competitors expected, 30 athletes rank within the ISSF top-10 in their respective disciplines.

Leading the U.S. Team into competition will be Kim Rhode (El Monte, Calif.) as she begins her quest for Olympic history.  The four-time Olympic medalist has the opportunity to become the first U.S. athlete to win five individual medals in five Olympic Games if she accomplishes the feat yet again in London. She’ll be shooting her main event (skeet) and trying to earn a Minimum Qualifying Score (MQS) to make her Olympic eligible in women’s trap.

Four additional 2008 Olympians will also be a part of the USA Shooting Team represented in Tucson including gold medalists Sergeant Vincent Hancock (skeet/Eatonton, Ga.) and Sergeant Glenn Eller (double trap/Katy, Texas) of the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit (USAMU) as well as Women’s Trap bronze medalist Corey Cogdell (Eagle River, Alaska).  Sergeant Jeff Holguin (USAMU/Yorba Linda, Calif.), a fourth-place finisher in double trap, is also set to participate.

The U.S. team is also stocked with rising talent in all disciplines who are primed to make a run at Olympic contention. Standing tallest among them is Staff Sergeant Josh Richmond (USAMU/Hillsgrove, Pa.), a 2010 World Champion in Double Trap, who is already Olympic-eligible by virtue of his success in the event over the past two seasons.  Also adding to the strength of the USA’s double trap contingent is the fast-rising Billy Crawford (Johnstown, Ohio), who is the current Junior World Champion and Derek Haldeman (USAMU/Sunbury, Ohio).

In Women’s Skeet, Rhode will be joined by Junior World Championships bronze medalist Morgan Craft (Hughesville, Pa.) and fourth-place finisher Brandy Drozd (Bryan, Texas), who also finished second to Rhode at the USA Shooting National Championships. Alexander Chiang (Redwood City, Calif.) and Caitlin Connor (Winnfield, La.) are also set to compete.

In Women’s Trap,Cogdell will shoot alongside Caitlin Barney Weinheimer (Kerrville, Texas), who has emerged on the USA Shooting scene and is leading the current Olympic selection in the event.  Also competing will be Kayle Browning (Wooster, Ark.) and Kelsey Zauhar (Lakeville, Minn.).

In Men’s Skeet, Hancock will pair with Jon Michael McGrath (Tulsa, Okla.), a 2010 Junior World Champion and 2011 Sydney (Australia) World Cup winner. BJ Blanchard (Vidor, Texas), Frank Thompson (Alliance, Neb.) and Mark Weeks (Clinton Township, Mich.) will also be participating.

U.S. competitors in Men’s Trap feature Collin Wietfeldt (Hemlock, Mich.), Jake Turner (Richland, Wash.), Dustin Anderson (Woodstock, Ga.) and Staff Sergeant Ryan Hadden (Pendleton, Ore.).  The USA Shooting Team does not have a quota in Men’s Trap and will be unable to send a representative to London.  After the retirement of several veteran competitors including four-time Olympian and current USA Shooting National Team Head Coach Bret Erickson, this group is poised to start building for the future and already have the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in their sights.

“Our team is ready for the upcoming World Cup and anxious to get things started,” said Erickson.  “We rarely get the opportunity to shoot competitively against world-level competition in our own country, so when we do, it creates a lot of energy and excitement among all the shooters.  The Tucson Trap & Skeet Club has been gracious in their support of our efforts and we’re confident in the level at which they’ll perform.  We hope to match that level as a team and defend our home-field advantage.”

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