CLOSE. It’s a word that is tossed around freely among competitive shooters. At this level, the 2014 World Shooting Championships, where only the very best are competing, you’re either contending or you were close. Three near misses defined the USA Shooting Team’s day Friday.
Despite a gallant last stand, Amy Sowash (Richmond, Kentucky) came close competing in the Women’s 50-meter Three-Position Rifle event. Her final 20 shots standing were better than any person in the 66-person field with just five shots landing outside the bullseye (10-ring). Still, it wasn’t good enough given the high scores shot amidst an almost still range and left her one point and five center-10s out of a possible spot in the finals where she could have battled for one of the five Olympic quota spots available in the event. She’d settle for 14th-place.
Olympian Amanda Furrer (Spokane, Washington) struggled during the kneeling portion of the event or her results might have been different. Instead she’d end up 22nd with a 582 while Emily Holsopple (Wilcox, Pennsylvania) was 34th with a 579.
Similarly, Ashley Carroll (Solvang, California) came close in Women’s Trap. The junior-aged athlete, who has shot well beyond her age for two years now, finished 10th with a 71. A missed left-to-right seventh target during her third and final round eliminated her from a shoot-off to get into the event finals. Janessa Beaman (Colorado Springs, Colorado) shot a 69 and was 21st while Tori Burch (Kerrville, Texas) shot a 65 and was 45th.
On the junior side in women’s trap, the team struggled early with first round jitters but battled through the anxiety well enough to score a fourth-place team finish. Amber Culwell (Rose Bud, Arkansas) was ninth with a 67, two targets shy of shooting off for finals. Samantha Smith (Spring Hill, Tennessee) was 17th with 63 while Katlyn Lawson (Oakfield, Georgia) was 19th with 62. The team score of 192 tied them with Russia for bronze, four away from a silver medal. However, ties are broken by counting back to the last missed target. The U.S. team missed their 66th target so Russia prevailed with bronze having missed their 65th target.
Coming up next in the Shotgun events, is the one-day competition in Men’s and Junior Men’s Double Trap with the U.S. looking to go on a medal hunt Sunday.
That’s four close medal opportunities lost in two days when you include Michael McPhail missing finals by .3 points in Men’s Prone Rifle on Thursday.
Also contested Friday was the Women’s and Junior Women’s 10m Air Pistol event. Sandra Uptagrafft (Phenix City, Alabama) was 48th with a score of 376/400; Teresa Chambers (Dearborn, Michigan) was 59th with a 375; Enkelejda Shehaj (Naples, Florida) was 67th with 373. Lydia Paterson (Kansas City, Kansas) was the high finisher among the juniors, finishing 27th with a 373. Taylor Gallegos (Prosper, Texas) was 30th with a 369 while Helen Oh (Walnut, California) was 51st with a 363.
As the World Shooting Championships roll on to their sixth day in Granada, just two competitions will be held: Men’s and Junior Men’s Rapid Fire Pistol and Men’s Three-Position Rifle. Men’s Rapid Fire Pistol is a two-day event and features four-time Olympian and 1996 Olympic silver medalist Emil Milev (Temple Terrace, Florida) and two-time Olympian Keith Sanderson (Colorado Springs, Colorado). Each ranked in the top-10 world rankings, both are among the event favorites. Sanderson won gold earlier this year at the World Cup USA event in Ft. Benning, Georgia, and has two other finals appearances in the other two World Cups, finishing fourth and fifth respectively. Milev won a bronze medal on the Granada range in 2013 and was the World Cup Finals winner last year as well.
Milev, who competed for Bulgaria before moving to the U.S. in 2004, hasn’t found as much success in 2014 but always draws strength competing as part of the U.S. team. “This competition brings me back to my first match with the U.S. team, the World Championships in Munich 2010, four years ago,” he said. “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!”
Joining Milev and Sanderson will be Brad Balsley (USAMU/Uniontown, Pennsylvania). This trio earned a World Championships bronze medal four years ago and they are anxious to better those results here.
Junior competitors set to shoot for USA Shooting in the event include Vladimir Chichkov (Temple Terrace, Florida), Brian Kim (Los Angeles, California) and Tony Chung (Diamond Bar, California).
Three-time Olympic medalist Matt Emmons (Browns Mills, New Jersey) and 2012 Olympian Michael McPhail (USAMU/Darlington, Wisconsin) will take to the line in Men’s Three-Position Rifle Saturday along with Ryan Anderson (Wasilla, Alaska). Emmons and McPhail both struggled in today’s elimination match while Anderson had the high score among the three.
Image courtesy USA Shooting