Acapulco, MX -(Ammoland.com)- Twenty-three USA Shooting Team athletes officially get a jump start on spring and a busy 2015 competition season with the start of the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) World Cup Series in Acapulco, Mexico, March 2-9.
The first World Cup of the year is a shotgun only event featuring 306 athletes from 54 nations. The Rifle/Pistol World Cup debut is set for April 10-15 in Changwon, Korea.
With any luck, the 2015 campaign for the nation’s best shotgun athletes will have equally satisfying results as 2014 did. It will be tough to top the 16 World Cup and 11 World Championship medals along with three earned Olympic quotas. But that, no doubt, is the goal. But most importantly, the team’s sole focus is trying to obtain the seven remaining Olympic quotas. The top-two finishers in Acapulco for each of five shotgun disciplines will earn a quota spot for their country.
A quota spot is essentially the entry ticket necessary for a country to compete in Olympic competition in a particular discipline. USA Shooting athletes winning Olympic quotas will still have to earn the right to compete separately. Thus far, Olympic quotas have been earned by U.S. athletes in Women’s Skeet (Brandy Drozd), Men’s Skeet (Vincent Hancock) and Double Trap (Josh Richmond). One more quota spot remains in each of those three disciplines in addition to two each in Men’s and Women’s Trap.
Things get underway Monday, March 2 in Men’s and Women’s Trap with the first medals to be handed out that day in Women’s Trap. Men’s Double Trap is set for March 5 while skeet will take place March 8-9. Fifteen USA Shooting Team athletes earned the right to compete from results of two 2014 selection matches including National Championships and Fall Selection. Another eight have paid their own way to compete for a Minimum Qualifying Score (MQS) and to gain valuable international experience.
Among them, two-time Olympian and 2008 Olympic bronze medalist Corey Cogdell-Unrein (Eagle River, Alaska), who eagerly awaits her return to major competition after missing out on World Cup and World Championship action in 2014.
“As the World Cup season comes into full swing, I feel extremely excited to once again go up against the world’s best as we fight it out for coveted Olympic quota slots,” said the trap specialist who earned a silver medal in Mexico in a 2010 World Cup. “As I know the pressure will be high, I’m also excited to test my mental toughness and see my progress after taking a year off from international competition.”
The rest of the trap contingent includes Kayle Browning (Wooster, Arkansas), Kimberley Bowers (Lafayette, California), Jake Wallace (Castaic, California), Brian Burrows (Fallbrook, California) and Collin Wietfeldt (Hemlock, Michigan). Those six will compete for the medals and quotas while four others will attend to try and earn the MQS including Alex Rennert (Surfside, Florida), Alexander Dupre (Champion, Pennsylvania), 17-year-old Emily Hampson (Saint Charles, Missouri) and 18-year-old Emily Underwood (Quitman, Arkansas).
Perhaps nobody had a better season last year than Wallace, highlighted by his first U.S. title and a perfect world-record score of 125 during competition at the Championship of the Americas. He too is anxious for what lies ahead.
“I’m super stoked to kick off the season in Mexico,” he said. “As a team, we’re looking forward to where we left off last season and fight for the quotas that we need to take a full team to Rio. With the team we have, I believe we will be able to get the job done.”
Browning is making a return to international competition after a two-year absence. She was the bronze medalist at the London World Cup in 2012 while finishing sixth at World Cup Finals later that year. Bowers’ lone World Cup appearance was in 2013 in Al Ain, UAE, where she finished 23rd. Burrows’ lone World Cup medal was the silver he earned in 2013 in Acapulco. This will be Wietfeldt’s seventh World Cup competition, but the first since a 29th-place finish in Acapulco in 2013.
USA Shooting’s shotgun athletes prepared for competition recently by attending a training camp in Puerto Rico. The team will rack up plenty of frequent flyer miles in the next three months with a front-loaded schedule that will have them compete in three World Cups, a Spring Selection Match and the National Championships before the official start of summer.
Television footage of all Finals will be broadcast live on www.issf-sports.org. Look for the Double Trap preview in a Tuesday, March 3 release, followed by a skeet preview on Thursday, March 5.
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Winchester Ammunition is a Proud Sponsor of the USA Shooting Shotgun Team: Winchester Ammunition has been the exclusive ammunition sponsor and supplier of the USA Shooting Shotgun Team since 1999. Members of the past two shotgun teams brought home a combined six medals from London and Beijing using Winchester AA International Target loads. Winchester is an industry leader in advancing and supporting conservation, hunter education and our country’s proud shooting sports heritage.
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About USA Shooting
USA Shooting, a 501c3 non-profit corporation, was chartered by the United States Olympic Committee as the National Governing Body for the sport of shooting in April 1995. USA Shooting’s mission is to prepare American athletes to win Olympic medals, promote the shooting sports throughout the U.S. and govern the conduct of international shooting in the country.