The USA Shooting Team is hoping for a home-range advantage as the International Shooting Sports Federation (ISSF) World Cup season kicks off right here in the U.S. at World Cup USA Wednesday through April 3 in Fort Benning, Ga.

More than 400 competitors from 50 nations are expected to compete at the home of the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit (USAMU).

At the last Rifle/Pistol World Cup USA back in May 2013, the U.S. earned two medals with  Will Brown (Twin Falls, Idaho, pictured right) winning a gold medal in Men’s 10m Air Pistol and Dempster Christenson (Sioux Falls, S.D.) winning a silver medal in Men’s Air Rifle.

Keith Sanderson (Colorado Springs, Colo.) and Michael McPhail (USAMU/Darlington, Wis.) also got in on the highlights for the U.S. squad with a fifth-place finish in Men’s Rapid Fire Pistol and a seventh-place finish in Men’s Prone Rifle respectively.

Brown will have the opportunity to repeat his World Cup USA win this year as he qualified to compete in the Men’s Air Pistol and Free Pistol competitions during the Pistol Selection Match in Colorado Springs, Colo. the last week of February. Also joining Brown in Men’s Air Pistol will be Olympians Jason Turner (Rochester, N.Y.) and Brian Beaman (Selby, S.D.).

Perhaps the most “unique” competitor for the United States will be 2012 Olympian Nick Mowrer (Butte, Mont.). Mowrer has competed in four World Cups throughout his career…as a member of the Pistol National Team. At this World Cup USA, Mowrer will be the first American competitor to compete in international competition in different disciplines when he shoots Prone Rifle alongside 2012 Olympians McPhail and Eric Uptagrafft (USAMU/Phenix City, Ala.).

“I have used prone smallbore (rifle) as cross training for pistol for years now and I am very excited to have the unique opportunity to represent the USA not only in pistol but rifle as well,” Mowrer said. “I shoot multiple events, not only prone, but the reason is just the same; I use other shooting disciplines to be able to compete in more matches and gain more experience that I am able to then use in my pistol shooting! It also keeps shooting fun and exciting.”

Mowrer took third overall in Prone at the Rifle Selection Match, wearing a borrowed shooting jacket from former Resident Athlete Matt Wallace. Mowrer has even received help from 2012 Olympic teammate and bronze medalist Matt Emmons (Brown Mills, N.J.) over the years to build the prone rifle that he used in the match.

Emmons will compete in Three-Position Rifle event after winning it at the January Selection Match. This World Cup will be his first since winning his third Olympic medal (bronze) at the 2012 London Olympic Games.

Rifle selections for this World Cup were determined at Winter Airgun Championships for Air Rifle and a Rifle Selection Match in early January for smallbore events.  Qualifying to compete in both Air and Three-Position Rifle are Amy Sowash (Richmond, Ky.) and University of Alaska Fairbanks standout Ryan Anderson (Wasilla, Alaska).

Two juniors from Illinois – Elizabeth Gratz (Sigel, Ill.) and Meredith Carpentier (Waukegan, Ill.) – will represent the United States in the Open Division of Women’s Air Rifle.

Another U.S. entry on a hot streak is five-time Olympian Emil Milev (Temple Terrace, Fla.) who will shoot Rapid Fire Pistol at this World Cup.  Milev earned a World Cup Finals gold medal in November and began his 2014 campaign at the Pistol Selection Match by setting a new National Record in the Day 2 final with 33/40 hits – which put him just one shy of a World Record. Sanderson and Brad Balsley (USAMU/Uniontown, Pa.) will also shoot the Rapid Fire event at this World Cup.

National Team members Teresa Meyer Chambers (Dearborn, Mich.), 17-year-old Lydia Paterson (Kansas City, Kan.) and 2012 Olympian Sandra Uptagrafft (Phenix City, Ala.) will represent the United States in Women’s Air Pistol. Paterson and Uptagrafft tied each other in overall cumulative score at the Selection Match to earn their spots. Uptagrafft and Chambers will also compete in the Women’s Sport Pistol event with Enkelejda Shehaj (Naples, Fla.).

Shooting Men’s Free Pistol for the United States will be Brown, Turner and James Henderson (USAMU/Midland, Ga.)

Henderson won the finals both days of the Pistol Selection Match and shot the second-best Finals score (199.5) in the world since the inception of the new Finals. He qualified for the third and final position on the World Cup team by winning a shootoff against Stephen Lutz (Tonganoxie, Kan.).

WC USA Finals Schedule
View the entire schedule here: http://www.issf-sports.org/calendar/championship_schedule.ashx?cshipid=1510

March 28
– Men’s Air Rifle
– Women’s Air Pistol

March 29
– Men’s Air Pistol
– Women’s Air Rifle

March 30
– Men’s Three-Position Rifle
– Women’s Sport Pistol

March 31
– Women’s Three-Position Rifle
– Youth Women’s   Air Pistol
– Youth Men’s Air Rifle

April 1
– Men’s Free Pistol
– Youth Women’s Air Rifle
– Youth Men’s Air Pistol

April 2
– Men’s Prone Rifle
– Men’s Rapid Fire Pistol

Image courtesy USA Shooting

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