It’s the top shooting sport spectacle on the planet, which should be enough reason in itself to want to follow the 2014 ISSF World Shooting Championship when it gets underway September 8 in Granada, Spain, with action in Air Rifle, Free Pistol and Trap. But, just in case, we’re here to provide you with the top-10 USA Shooting certified reasons you should be paying attention.
But first, if you missed it, here’s the opener of our Aim For Spain Release Series, which should serve as your World Championships primer. http://bit.ly/1lfk6Uw
1. Quota Hunting – Olympic qualifying begins and 64 quota spots are up for grabs. Secure one here with the depth and quality of competition and you’ve done something special. Five were earned in 2010 including from Matt Emmons, Vincent Hancock, Josh Richmond, Kim Rhode and Jamie Gray. Their success in 2010 would catapult them to greater success in 2012 as Olympians and all but one, Richmond, earning an Olympic medal. With Gray’s retirement earlier this year, four of the five return to Granada looking for similar results.
Greatness Defined – Since 1995, at least one of the fearsome foursome of Glenn Eller, Matt Emmons, Vincent Hancock and Kim Rhode has been a part of every World Championship event and they would need a truck to hold all the medals they’ve earned in that time. It’s an impressive record that includes 14 World Championship medals and six World titles. When you combine team medals they were a part of, you can add another 23 medals for a combined medal haul of 37. Individually, Eller leads the list with four open medals. Emmons has four medals too but includes one as a junior. Combining individual and team, Rhode and Emmons have collected 11 medals, followed by Eller at nine and Hancock at six. A medal in Granada for Glenn Eller and he would become the U.S. record-holder in shotgun with five World Champs medals. It’s important to note that in the shotgun discipline there’s a World Championship event three out of every four years compared to one every four years for rifle/pistol.
3. Doubles Dominance – The triple-threat Doubles Trap team of Glenn Eller, Josh Richmond and Jeff Holguin have medaled in every World Championships since 2007 (5) and all but two since 2002. Eller has four World Champs medals including two World titles while Richmond has two including a World title in 2010 while Holguin earned a World Champs silver in 2009 and was fourth in 2010. In team competition since 2003, at least one of them has been a part of earning five titles and one bronze medal as well with Eller a part of five of the six. The juniors have more than held their own during this impressive streak too and are the defending two-time World Champions in the team event with current World Champion Ian Rupert having been a part of both those triumphs as well as the bronze-medal team medal in 2010. You have to go back to 1993 the last time a U.S. Junior Team in Double Trap wasn’t on the podium, a span of 15-straight World Championships.
4. Youthful Journey – The beauty of the ISSF World Championship is the inclusion of junior competitors. Nothing beats the joy that comes with competing for your country while still in high school or being part of something so big. Pistol shooter Tony Chung earns the distinction as the team’s youngest member at 15 years of age while Dale Royer, 16, is the youngest in shotgun. Michael Steinel, age 17, is the youngest rifle competitor for the USA Shooting Team in Granada. Don’t let age fool you however as these junior pack plenty of punch. A Junior Team contingent featuring all 15 members of the Junior Team in Shotgun that will compete in Spain earned seven medals as well at a Junior Cup in Suhl, Germany, including three gold, two silver and two bronze along with 11 top-seven performances. In 2010, USA Shooting Team junior competitors earned 14 medals including seven team and seven individual medals.
Perhaps, junior shotgun competitor Katlyn Lawson sums it up best: “What an amazing opportunity to be able to represent my country and myself at the ISSF World Championships. Growing up in a little town in South Georgia, you don’t hear much about a girl going overseas to shoot at a major competition. It’s hard to gather my thoughts about being able to do this, I just feel so blessed. We have all been working and training hard for this moment. I’m so excited! I hope and pray for safe travels and good scores for Team USA!”
5. Age Redefined – Shooting is a sport for the ages and nowhere is that more evident than on any USA Shooting Team roster. Pistol shooter John Zurek takes top honors of the team’s oldest athlete at 51, while 300-meter rifle competitor Michelle Bohren is 49. The savvy veteran of the shotgun squad is Jeff Holguin at age 35.
6.Rapid Fire Response – 1981. That’s the year of the last World Championships medal earned by an individual U.S. pistol shooter in open competition. If that’s going to change, more than likely it’s going to come in the Men’s Rapid Fire Pistol event featuring two-time Olympian Keith Sanderson and four-time Olympian Emil Milev. Sanderson has been in three finals during World Cup competition this season while winning gold in Ft. Benning, Georgia. Milev has struggled to find consistency in 2014, but was the World Cup Finals winner to close 2013. Milev does own a World Champs medal (silver) in the event he earned in 1994 as a member of the Bulgarian National Team. Those two joined Brad Balsley in winning team bronze in 2010.
“This competition brings me back to my first match with the US team, the World Championship in Munich 2010,” Milev said in anticipation. “The excitement is still there, and now I feel the strength of the team with me – all the support and encouragement I get from every shooter, coach, and staff member of USA Shooting. I’m part of this team because of them!”
7. Non-Olympic Showcase – For 300-meter rifle, center fire and standard pistol competitors, the World Championship is the only marquee event they compete in. Hard to believe that the marquee attraction of Olympic rifle shooting up to 1972 was the 300-meter rifle events and includes such illustrious Olympic champions as Gary Anderson and Lones Wigger. USA Shooting will preview these non-Olympic events on Friday, Sept. 5.
8. Vast Representation — Poised to relish the moment as USA Shooting Team members are select athletes, including 15 Olympians, representing 37 states. California leads the way with 10 athletes, followed by Texas with nine. The numbers include 30 shotgun team members, 23 in pistol and 28 rifle competitors. Per usual, there is a large military presence on this USA Shooting Team with 15 members of the team residing at the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit based in Ft. Benning, Ga. Eleven Olympic Training Center (OTC) Resident Athletes also make up the 81 person team.
9. Family Bonds – The team features a husband and wife duo in Eric and Sandra Uptagrafft whom both competed together as Olympians in 2012 as well. In addition, the Brown brothers, Will and Wyatt, will also be together as part of the USA Shooting Team with Will competing in Air Pistol while Wyatt is a junior competitor in air and free pistol. Junior pistol shooter Alex Chichkov will be coached by his dad, Vladimir, the Assistant National Team Coach for USA Shooting.
10. Collegiate Connection – While many programs go into the creation of the USA Shooting Team from all three disciplines, nowhere is this more prevalent than in rifle where the NCAA Rifle program has provided strength in numbers. Fourteen of the 28 rifle team members currently reside at collegiate rifle program led by Alaska-Fairbanks with four, Texas Christian and Kentucky with two, while Ohio State, North Carolina State, West Virginia, Tennessee Martin, Air Force Academy and Nebraska each have one representative apiece.
For a complete World Championship schedule, click here: http://www.issf-sports.org/competitions/venue.ashx?cshipid=930.
Check out the complete World Champs U.S. Team preview in the fourth USA Shooting News issue of 2014: http://content.yudu.com/A3281g/ShootingMagSept2014/resources/index.htm.
Logo courtesy USA Shooting