Bigger caliber. Bigger distance. Bigger boom.
Perhaps an oversimplified way to explain a few of the non-Olympic events that will be contested over the coming days at the International Shooting Sports Federation (ISSF) World Championship in Granada, Spain, but also not that far off for the 300m Rifle events that– along with Women’s 50m Prone Rifle, Men’s Standard, Center Fire and Junior Sport Pistol – will get their moment to shine on the international stage as they do once every four years at this World Championship.
U.S. competitors have not been strangers to success in the 300m Rifle events, which were once included in the Olympic Games. “300m was once known as the King of the Shooting Events,” five-time Olympian Lones Wigger said. He won the last Olympic gold medal to be awarded in 300m Three-Position Rifle at the 1972 Olympic Games. In the two Olympic Games prior, fellow American Gary Anderson won gold in 300m Three-Position as well.
Though they’re no longer a part of the Olympic schedule, World Championship 300m Three-Position Rifle Team silver medalist Reya Kempley (Carson City, Nevada) said the 300m Rifle events are still hugely popular in Europe. She and her teammates who are not on a military team, however, will rarely shoot the complete distance outside of the World Championship tryout or the event itself. Instead, Kempley has had to train shooting at other distances, such as 100 yards with a resized target, to account for the shorter distance.
“The people I know who shoot 300m who are not in the Army are just really avid shooters,” Kempley said. “They just love shooting different stuff and they find it really interesting since it’s so difficult. We are pretty much going to be drawing 300m shooters from High Power shooters in America because in Europe, 300m is their High Power.”
Kempley, along with Sandy Fong and Rhonda Bright claimed the lone medal (silver) in a non-Olympic event in the last World Championship in 2010 in Munich, Germany. At this year’s World Championship, she’ll be joined in the 300m Three-Position and Prone events by Erin McNeil (U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit / Fort Wayne, Indiana) and Michelle Bohren (Taylor, Michigan).
50m Prone Rifle is an Olympic event for men, however, Women’s 50m Prone is also contested at the World Championship. Representing the U.S. will be National Champion Sarah Beard (Danville, Indiana), Kempley and Amanda Furrer (Spokane, Washington). Beard will also compete in Air and Furrer in 50m Three-Position Rifle. Beard, Furrer and Sharon Barazani shot a combined Team score during the individual competition in 2010 that would have set a world record, however, team scores are determined during the elimination round and thus the team finished in fourth place. Competing on the Junior side will be Lauren Phillips (Seabeck, Washington), Lorelie Stanfield (Fairbanks, Alaska) and Katie Bridges (Kingland Texas) .
U.S. Army Marksmanship teammates Joe Hein (Mason, Michigan) and Michael McPhail (Darlington, Wisconsin) will lead the Men’s side in non-Olympic Rifle events. Hein, who will shoot the 300m Three-Position and Standard Rifle events, placed sixth in 300m Three-Position at the 2010 World Championship. 2012 Olympian McPhail will also shoot these events and placed seventh in 300m Prone at the last World Championship as well. 2012 Olympian Eric Uptagrafft (USAMU / Phenix City, Alabama) will also shoot 300m Prone, an event in which he won the silver medal at the 2002 World Championship.
Hein, McPhail and Uptagrafft will be joined by the first Air Force shooters to compete for the U.S. in 300m events: Matt Griffin (Plymouth, Minnesota) who will shoot Standard Rifle and Mark Gould (Grasonville, Maryland) who will shoot Standard and Three-Position Rifle .
“I feel incredibly honored to finally get the chance to wear Team USA colors in international competition,” Gould said. “After wearing the Air Force uniform for more than 19 years, one may think the thrill of getting the call to represent the nation would become blasé; for me, nothing could be further from the truth. It’s an honor, very humbling, and extremely nerve wracking all at the same time. It should be loads of fun.”
U.S. athletes will compete in three, non-Olympic Pistol events at this World Championship: Center Fire, Standard, and Junior Sport Pistol.
The three men competing for the U.S. in Rapid Fire Pistol will also make appearances on the line in non-Olympic events: Keith Sanderson (Colorado Springs, Colorado) and Emil Milev (Temple Terrace, Florida) in Standard and Brad Balsley (USAMU / Uniontown, Pennsylvania) in Center Fire Pistol.
Sanderson and Milev will be joined in Standard by first-time World Championship team member Greg Markowski (USAMU / Columbus, Georgia). Outside of the USA Shooting National Championship for Rifle/Pistol, the World Championship will be the next competition for these three in this event. The World Record in Standard Pistol was set by American Eric Buljung at the Pan American Games in 1983.
Center Fire Pistol, however, is also contested in the Conseil International du Sport Militaire (CISM) Military World Games each year in addition to National Championships. The U.S. will be represented by three members of the USAMU in Balsley, Markowski and first-time World Championship team member Michael Gasser (Columbus, Georgia).
Junior Men will also compete in Sport Pistol, which is an Olympic event for women. Competing for the U.S. will be Brian Kim (Los Angeles, California), Tony Chung (Diamond Bar, California) and Alex Chichkov (Temple Terrace, Florida). The trio will also compete in the Junior Men’s Standard Pistol event.
Jessica Delos Reyes
Image courtesy USA Shooting