By Michael Molinaro USAMU PAO
FORT BENNING, Ga. –-(Ammoland.com)- The seven remaining positions on the U.S. Olympic Shooting team will be filled June 1-12 as the U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Smallbore comes to Fort Benning.
Competitors will compete in smallbore (.22-caliber) rifle and pistol events on the grounds of the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit.
They will shoot in three matches and finals over the course of three days. All three match scores and the top two finals will be calculated to determine the Olympic team members.
There are two spots yet to be won in Rapid Fire Pistol and one slot remains in each of the following events: Men’s Rifle Prone; Men’s and Women’s Three-Position Rifle; Men’s Free Pistol; and Women’s Sport Pistol.
Several shooters from the USAMU are primed to be in contention for Olympic berths. Sgt. 1st Class Jason Parker is a three-time Olympian and recently won a gold medal in Men’s Three-Position Rifle at the Italy World Cup in Milan on May 17. He will be tested by several of his USAMU teammates, including Staff Sgt. George Norton, Staff Sgt. Hank Gray, Sgt. Joe Hein and Spc. Joe Hall.
Gray and Hall are looking to make it a family event in London. Gray’s wife Jamie has qualified in two Olympic shooting events and Hall’s brother Jonathan earned a spot in Men’s Air Rifle.
In Men’s Rifle Prone, USAMU Soldiers are seeking to join teammate Sgt. 1st Class Eric Uptagrafft on Team USA. Uptagrafft has already qualified in the rifle prone event after earning enough points in international competition the past two years. Among those competing for the position next to Uptagrafft are Staff Sgt. Michael McPhail, a bronze medalist at the London World Cup in April; Parker, Hein, Staff Sgt. Gray and Spc. Hall. Also in the mix is Matthew Emmons, the 2004 Olympic Gold Medalist in rifle prone who has already qualified in two other rifle events for 2012.
Sgt. Brad Balsley is a leading contender in Rapid Fire Pistol, and Sandra Uptagrafft, wife of Eric Uptagrafft, looks to join her husband in London as she will compete in Women’s Sport Pistol.
World Class Athlete Program Soldiers will also be vying for a place on the Olympic team. Lt. Cols. Rhonda Bright and Kristin Frazer, attached to the USAMU, will compete in Women’s Three-Position Rifle, while Capt. Christopher Abalo, also attached to the USAMU, will compete in Men’s Rifle Prone. Sgts. 1st Class Daryl Szarenski and Keith Sanderson, both former Olympians, will compete in pistol events.
The “Home of Champions” has hosted numerous world-class matches in its storied history. In 2011 alone, the unit hosted both the International Shooting Sports Federation World Cup USA for rifle and pistol as well as the first International Paralympic Committee World Cup ever held on U.S. soil.
The U.S. Olympic Team Trials for all sports is a collaborative, three-way partnership between the U.S. Olympic Committee, the national governing bodies and the local organizing committees. All athletes nominated to the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team must be approved by the U.S. Olympic Committee.
The USAMU enhances the Army’s recruiting effort, raises the standard of the Army’s marksmanship proficiency, and supports the Army’s small arms research and development initiatives in order to raise the Army’s overall combat readiness. For more information on the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit, contact the Public Affairs Office at (706) 545-5436, [email protected] or www.USAMU.com.