Winter rolled into Colorado Springs just in time for the arrival of 250 airgun enthusiasts ready to compete in USA Shooting’s 2013 Winter Airgun Championships, December 6-8.
A year ago at this same event, temperatures were in the mid-60s throughout the week. But, arriving athletes were greeted with snow and bitter cold temperatures Wednesday and the forecast calls for much more of the same throughout the weekend.
Luckily, all competition will take place indoors amid the entirely redesigned 10-meter shooting range located within USA Shooting’s headquarters. Gone are the old paper scoring targets that had been installed in the range since the facility opened in 1984. Thanks to the help of sponsor Megalink, both upper and lower ranges, 70 firing points in all, have been equipped with a new electronic scoring system. In addition, the range has been upgraded with a completely new lighting system as well as other technology features as well as a new sound system.
Financing for the project was made possible with contributions from USA Shooting, the USA Shooting Team Foundation (USASTF) and the U.S. Olympic Committee. In addition, the Foundation organized a campaign to help complete the final phase and bring the U.S. Shooting Center range up to world-class standards. The campaign asked donors to leave their mark on the Olympic Shooting Center by sponsoring firing points for $1,000 apiece. More than 70 contributors stepped forward to offer their support and generated over $80,000 to help make the range upgrade a reality.
“USA Shooting’s sponsors, supporters and donors have been directly responsible for the USA Shooting Team’s continued success on ranges around the world,” said USASTF Executive Director Buddy DuVall. “USA Shooting is continuing to grow and develop not only its team but also to invest in the maintenance of world-class facilities like the Olympic Shooting Center. We couldn’t be more thankful to our fans and supporters for getting behind this unique opportunity and leaving their mark at the Olympic Shooting Center and investing in our tradition of success.”
USA Shooting will host the official grand opening of the range on Thursday evening at 4 pm local time before ranges fill to capacity with the top air rifle and pistol shooters from around the nation.
In the air rifle events, 2012 Olympian Sarah Scherer (Woburn, Mass.) and Connor Davis (Shelbyville, Ky.) are the reigning national champions in the event and enter as pre-event favorites. Scherer is in her final semester of school at Texas Christian University while Davis is among the NCAA leaders in helping guide the University of Kentucky Wildcats to a second-place standing nationally through the NCAA Rifle season’s first three months. Among the collegiate ranks, he owns the third best score in air rifle having shot 595/600 in four contests thus far.
Likely contenders on the women’s side will include National Championship medalists Amy Sowash (Richmond, Ky.) and Sarah Beard (Danville, Ind.) while Davis will be pushed by 2013 World Cup USA silver medalist Dempster Christenson (Sioux Falls, S.D.) and multi-time Nationals medalist Bryant Wallizer (Little Orleans, Md.) on the men’s side. Others to watch will include NCAA rifle competitors Meredith Carpentier (Air Force/Waukegan, Ill.), Ryan Anderson (Alaska-Fairbanks/Wasilla, Alaska) and Garrett Spurgeon (West Virginia/Canton, Mo.) as well as 2012 Olympian Jonathan Hall (Carrollton, Ga.).
Pre-event favorites in the air pistol events include reigning National Champions Sandra Uptagrafft (Phenix City, Ala.) and Jason Turner (Rochester, N.Y.). Uptagrafft and Turner were Olympic teammates in 2012 while Turner is also a 2004 and 2008 Olympian as well, with his career highlight being the bronze medal he earned in Beijing in ’08.
Will Brown (Twin Falls, Idaho) excelled throughout 2013, highlighted by his first World Cup win in Ft. Benning, Ga., and will be a strong challenger. Other male prospects gunning for top contention this weekend will include 2012 Olympian Nick Mowrer (Butte, Mont.) and 2013 National Championships bronze medalist Jay Shi (Phoenix, Ariz.). Several junior men will challenge the ranks as well including Will’s brother, Wyatt, the 2013 Junior Olympic Champion, along with Alex Chichkov (Temple Terrace, Fla.), who swept all three junior pistol events at the 2013 National Championships.
In addition, two other pistol Olympians will be among those stepping to the firing line later this week in 2008 Olympians Brian Beaman (Selby, S.D.), who finished fourth in the men’s air pistol in Beijing along with Brenda Silva (Snowflake, Ariz.). Also, Morgan Wallizer (formerly Hicks) is competing in Air Pistol after making the 2004 Olympic Team in Rifle.
Competition in the four contested airgun events begins each day at 7:45 a.m. with Men’s Air Rifle and will conclude after three event days on Sunday with the simultaneous finals of Junior Women’s Air Pistol and Rifle. Event finals begin each of the three days at 11:45 am. For a complete schedule, click HERE. For all USA Shooting event results, check the MATCH RESULTS section 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 USA Shooting