Intrigue Awaits Rifle Competitors at 2014 Rifle/Pistol Spring Selection Match
The retirement of one of the sport’s best and an Olympic pistol shooter also prone to rifle success are just a couple of the headlines adding even more intrigue to the upcoming 2014 Rifle & Pistol Spring Selection Match, May 12-22. This much is known, three May days will determine the rest of the year’s competition for USA Shooting’s rifle athletes.
The biggest event on the 2014 shooting calendar is the International Shooting Sports Federation (ISSF) World Championships, and 15 rifle competitors will look to earn their way to Granada, Spain, later this summer. The process of selecting them gets underway Saturday in Ft. Benning, Ga., with pistol events followed on Monday by the men and women of rifle. All rifle competitors will shoot three qualification scores on consecutive days with three separate finals to determine if their aggregate scores ranks them in the top-3 of all competitors, thus securing team selection. Aggregate score is determined by adding all qualification scores (3) to any finals points earned during the three matches. Any athlete reaching a final earns points based on their finals rank. First place in a final equals eight finals points; second in a final equals seven finals points and so on to one point for eighth place.
The Spring Selection Match taking place at the home of the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit (USAMU) will determine selection for 30 athletes in total. We previewed Pistol Selection Thursday and to see what’s in store there, click here. The athletes selected will join their 30 shotgun teammates that were determined during their Spring Selection Match in March. Another 30 junior-level performers will be added to the team following final selection at the USA Shooting National Championships in late June. The 90-person squad is easily the largest USA Shooting team assembled every four years.
The 2012 Olympic gold medalist Jamie (Beyerle) Gray (Lebanon, Pa.) stepped down from the sport’s top pedestal in April, succumbing finally to chronic lower back pain that made pushing on a risky proposition. We’ll know who is ready to take her place in the three-position event on May 17. Perhaps, it’s Sarah Scherer (Woburn, Mass.) who claimed the second World Cup medal of her career last month with a bronze in this event. She’s demonstrated the most consistency having made top-3 in the last three National-level competitions including January’s World Cup USA Selection Match, Rocky Mountain Rifle and the 2013 USA Shooting National Championships. Amy Sowash (Richland, Ky.) has been a medalist at the last two of those events building back her form after taking a year away from the sport while serving as an assistant rifle coach at her alma mater of Kentucky. Reigning National Champion Sarah Beard (Danville, Ind.) and runner-up Emily Holsopple (Wilcox, Pa.) should be contenders as well as should 2012 Olympian Amanda Furrer (Spokane, Wash.) and 2014 National Junior Olympic Champion Lauren Phillips (Seabeck, Wash.).
Scherer, Sowash and Beard are also top contenders in Women’s Air Rifle having made the podium at each of the previous competitions they’ve contested. Another competitor to add to the mix is Meredith Carpentier (Waukegan, Ill.) who was the top winner from the Winter Airgun Championships in December.
Action in the Men’s Three-Position Rifle event looks to be wide open, but the re-emergence of three-time Olympic medalist Matt Emmons (Browns Mills, N.J.) following an extended post-London layoff has him back as the leading contender once again. He won the January selection event with a stirring second-day performance, found his way into the finals of World Cup USA last month, and on Thursday won a Prone Rifle event among some tough competition in Pilsen, Czech Republic, where he now resides with wife, Katy, and two children. Emmons’ challenge is expected to come from recent event medalists Dempster Christenson (Sioux Falls, S.D.), Tom Csenge (Colorado Springs, Colo.), Bryant Wallizer (Little Orleans, Md.), Ryan Anderson (Wasilla, Alaska) and Joe Hein (Lansing, Mich.). Emerging talent like Tim Sherry (Highlands Ranch, Colo.) and Garrett Spurgeon (Canton, Mo.) have demonstrated that they could be contenders as well given their top-two performances achieved at the NCAA Rifle Championships and Junior Olympics.
Nick Mowrer, the 2012 Olympic pistol shooter from Butte, Mont., did something at last month’s World Cup USA that no one in the sport has ever done by competing in a World Cup rifle event. The same shooter who represented the U.S. in the 50m Free Pistol event as a member of the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team. It would have been historical had he just competed, but compete and win a bronze medal, that’s what made the entire shooting community stand up and take notice. Competitive pistol shooters aren’t supposed to be good competitive rifle shooters too, or they at least never have been. For much more on Mowrer’s moment, click here.
Mowrer will no longer have the element of surprise to rely on when he shows up to compete in the Prone Selection Event starting on May 15. The gauntlet has been laid down and it will be interesting to see how prone stalwarts like Eric Uptagrafft (USAMU/Phenix City, Ala.) and Michael McPhail (USAMU/Darlington, Wis.) react. Also, in the mix will be current National Champion Justin Tracy (Farmington, N.Y.) and bronze medalist Daniel Lowe (Olympia, Wash.) as will Emmons and the rest of the contenders in Men’s 3P.
Connor Davis (Shelbyville, Ky.) has been atop the Men’s Air Rifle field for the better part of a year starting with a National Junior Olympic Title in 2013 and along the way he’s earned a USAS National Title, was the top performer at the 2013 Winter Airgun Championships and topped it all off in March with an NCAA Air Rifle title. Now he’s ready to start punishing the international competition in much the same way. First stop to doing so will be this selection event. But in order to get to Granada, he’ll have to out-shoot some top-rated talent including George Norton (USAMU/Columbus, Ga.), Dan Hermsmeier (Chesterfield, Mo.), Christenson, Wallizer and Csenge.
Rifle Selection Match SCHEDULE
- May 12-14 Men’s & Women’s Air
- May 15-17 Women’s Three-Position & Men’s Prone
- May 20-22 Men’s Three-Position