International Shooting Sports Federation (ISSF) World Cup USA competition officially kicked off today at the Home of the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit, and while no U.S. athletes were to stand atop the podiums for Men’s Air Rifle or Women’s Air Pistol, U.S. athletes posted strong scores the first day of competition.

The strongest official finish of the day for the U.S. came from George Norton (Fort Benning, Ga./USAMU) who was shooting at his home range when he finished in 11th place overall in Men’s Air Rifle with a score of 622.8; just one point out of qualification for the Finals. Men’s Air Rifle National Champion Connor Davis (Shelbyville, Ky.), shooting in an MQS (Minimum Qualification Score) position and thus not eligible for Finals, shot a 625.6 during qualification – a score that would have qualified him in fifth place and earned him a spot to compete in the Finals. Learn more about MQS here: http://www.issf-sports.org/results/ogqualification.ashx.

Nazar Luginets of the Russian Federation took the first gold of his career and the competition for Men’s Air Rifle, besting Serbia’s Milutin Stefanovic by .1 point. Sergey Richter of Israel won the bronze. He also won the bronze medal in this event at World Cup USA in 2013.

In Women’s Air Pistol, the best U.S. finish came from 2012 Olympian and Women’s Air Pistol National Champion Sandra Uptagrafft (Phenix City, Ala.) who shot a 379 in qualification to finish in 15th place. Lydia Paterson (Kansas City, Kan.) shot a 377 to finish in 21st place and Teresa Meyer Chambers (Dearborn, Mich.) shot just one point shy with a 376 in 23rd place. MQS competitors for this event Darian Shenk (Annville, Pa.) and Enkelejda Shehaj (Naples, Fla.) shot a 372 and 362 respectively.

Four-time World Cup medalist Antoaneta Boneva of Bulgaria won the Women’s Air Pistol gold medal. World Cup Finals gold medalist Heena Sidhu of India won the silver and 12-time World Cup medalist Zorana Arunovic of Serbia won bronze.

Awards ceremonies for these events were postponed until tomorrow due to stormy weather in the area.

More than 430 athletes from 53 countries have descended on Fort Benning to compete in ten Olympic events in the Rifle and Pistol disciplines. Competition continues tomorrow with Women’s Air Rifle and Men’s Air Pistol where 2013 World Cup USA gold medalist Will Brown (Twin Falls, Idaho) will look to defend his title.

Image courtesy USA Shooting

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