If the New Year’s resolution for 35 athletes was to shoot more shots downrange in 2014, they are off to a fine start after a week-long camp and smallbore (.22 caliber) selection match at the USA Shooting Center in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Athletes began firing shots downrange on January 2 in anticipation of the selection match USA Shooting was hosting to determine participants in the upcoming World Cup USA in Ft. Benning, Ga., March 26-April 4. Ten rifle athletes, including Olympians Sarah Scherer (Woburn, Mass.), Jamie Gray (Lebanon, Pa.) and Matt Emmons (Brown Mills, N.J.), were selected for the three-position event following two courses of fire that included two separate finals on Tuesday and Wednesday. Five more positions will be confirmed Saturday after two-days of shooting in the Men’s Prone Rifle event.
Scherer defied reason by winning both women’s events this week. The 2012 Olympian had given up hope of ever finding her smallbore and air rifle after they never got to her during a July trip to Granada, Spain, to compete in the World Cup. But mysteriously they turned up in customs in Newark (N.J.) in early December. With no guns and no time due to the rigors of trying to graduate from Texas Christian University in December, Scherer’s range time was virtually non-existent. She was reunited with her guns just after graduating December 14. What she lacked in appropriate training time prior to the match, she more than made up for with the mental toughness that’s come to define her.
“I’m a little bit surprised with how well it went,” Scherer acknowledged. “It wasn’t expecting really big scores, but I knew I could put up good performances and that’s what I wanted. But winning twice was unexpected.”
Training opportunities won’t be lacking for Scherer now as she becomes an official resident athlete at the Olympic Training Center joining a bounty of top female rifle shooters Amy Sowash (Richmond, Ky.) and her TCU teammate Sarah Beard (Danville, Ind.). Sowash will join Scherer at the World Cup USA after finishing with a silver medal in yesterday’s event while Beard is the reigning National Champion in three-position. Expected to be joining them in May upon her graduation from Kentucky will be today’s event runner-up Emily Holsopple (Wilcox, Pa.).
Jamie Gray (Lebanon, Pa.) participated in her first domestic competition since winning the gold medal at the 2012 Olympic Games in London and did well with a pair of bronze-medal finishes. Her qualifying scores of 589 and 581 paired with her finals results made her the leading qualifier despite the two event wins by Scherer. Gray is battling a back problem that’s limited her shooting since London and limits her from training the way she has in the past.
Sowash will be lone U.S. female shooter competing in both smallbore and air after qualifying in air rifle during the Winter Airgun Championships in December. Also earning spots were U.S. Army Markmanship Unit (USAMU) shooter Erin Lorenzen (Ft. Wayne, Ind.) and Nebraska rifle shooter Lauren Phillips (Seabeck, Wash.). Phillips actually tied with Holsopple, but advance to the World Cup by virtue of one more deeper 10 over 120 total shots.
Emmons left the USA Shooting Center he’s spent the better part of his life in admittedly as excited as he’s been in a long time. It was for good reason. He had just erased a nine-point deficit to win the overall selection match over Alaska rifle shooter Ryan Anderson (Wasilla, Alaska). He did so by shooting 19 points higher than Tuesday’s qualification score. That came as a result of being so dissatisfied with Tuesday’s results that he took to dry-firing in the kneeling position. He gained 10 points in that position on Wednesday as a result and followed that with a perfect score in the prone position. Emmons now lives in the Czech Republic with his Olympian wife Katy and their two children. This match was the first domestic competition for Emmons since earning his third career Olympic medal (bronze) in London.
As he has throughout the collegiate rifle season to date and during the Winter Airgun Championships, Anderson continues to fire high scores. Already competing in the World Cup for airgun, he’ll now have more on his plate with three-position and perhaps in prone. USAMU competitor Joe Hein (Lansing, Mich.) will get to compete on his home range in March after finishing third in the selection match while Bryant Wallizer (Little Orleans, Md.) and Tim Sherry (Highlands Ranch, Colo.) will compete as well.
For complete results and selection rankings of the smallbore selection match, click here.
A similar pistol selection camp and match will be held Feb. 28-March 3 to determine pistol competitors for World Cup USA as well in Rapid Fire, Free and Sport Pistol events.
Below are the USA Shooting Team Rifle athletes selected for upcoming events.
2014 Bavarian Airgun Championships – Rifle
Men – Ryan Anderson, Greg Norton, Bryant Wallizer, Connor Davis
Women – Amy Sowash, Elizabeth Gratz, Meredith Carpentier, Elizabeth Marsh
Juniors – Lauren Phillips, Hannah Black, Garrett Spurgeon, Jean-Pierre Lucas
2014 World Cup USA (Ft. Benning, Ga.) – Rifle Competitors
Men – Ryan Anderson, Greg Norton, Bryant Wallizer
Women – Meredith Carpentier, Elizabeth Gratz, Amy Sowash
MQS – Elizabeth Marsh; Sarah Beard, Connor Davis and Tom Csenge
Men – Matt Emmons, Ryan Anderson, Joe Hein
Women – Jamie Gray, Amy Sowash, Sarah Scherer
MQS – Erin Lorenzen; Lauren Phillips; Bryant Wallizer; Tim Sherry
Image courtesy USA Shooting