USA –-(Ammoland.com)- As the 2016 Olympic Games get closer for the USA Shooting Team, the competition is only just about to begin as the 2016 USA Shooting National Championships for Rifle/Pistol (USASNC) kicks off at the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit (USAMU) in Fort Benning, Georgia, June 23 –29. More than 300 athletes will be vying for National Team selections and, for some, preparing for the upcoming Olympic & Paralympic Games in Rio. Even still, there are many going to this year’s Nationals with their eyes set on Tokyo 2020.
This year’s Nationals represents the opportunity for those Rio-bound athletes to get another training competition in ahead of their Olympic and Paralympic appearance, while giving other athletes the chance to establish or re-establish their national ranking with a new Olympic push ready to get underway.
Coming off an impressive first-place finish during the recent Olympic Team Trials for Airgun, Olympians Lucas Kozeniesky (Fairfax, Virginia) and Daniel Lowe (Olympia, Washington), plan to compete in Air Rifle as well as Three-Position and Prone. Keep an eye on Prone Rifle Olympian David Higgins (San Clemente, California). Higgins finished second to Olympian Michael McPhail (USAMU/Darlington, Wisconsin) after winning Olympic Trials in come-from-behind fashion. Other shooters to watch are Dempster Christenson (Sioux Falls, South Dakota) and Ivan Roe (Manhattan, Montana)who both also competed in the recent Olympic Trials alongside Lowe and Kozeniesky. Roe finished fourth after an impressive day one final, and Christenson finished third just a little more than three points behind Lowe. Another name to watch for in Three-Position Rifle will be George Norton (USAMU/Salina, Kansas), who took first at the Olympic Team Trials for Smallbore by a margin of 10 points. Despite earning the quota for USA Shooting and finishing first at Olympic Trials, Norton was ineligible to compete given that three-time Olympic medalist Matt Emmons (Browns Mills, New Jersey) earned the one spot obtained via the Olympic Points System in place. William Shaner (Colorado Springs, Colorado) will be attending this year. Shaner, at only 15 years old, had a successful series of matches at the 2015 Junior Olympic National Championships where he won both Air Prone Rifle and was high J2 winner in Three-Position.
Women’s Three-Position Rifle will be exciting with Olympians Virginia Thrasher (Springfield, Virginia) and Sarah Scherer (Woburn, Massachusetts) attending. At the last National Championships, Thrasher was able to claim five medals, two in the junior division and three in the open division. Sarah Beard (Danville, Indiana), who finished third during Olympic Team Trials for Smallbore and sixth during Olympic Trials for Airgun, will be competing. Beard finished fifth at the 2015 USA World Cup in Air Rifle earning an Olympic Quota for USA Shooting. Beard has an impressive line of titles having earned 15 Nationals Championship Medals since 2011, seven of which were first place finishes. Sagen Maddalena (Grover, California) is poised to have a strong showing in air rifle after her close second-place finish at Olympic Trials. After a recent win in Three-Position Rifle at the Junior National Championships, Hanna Carr (Versailles, Kentucky) will be shooting Prone, Three-Position and Air Rifle. Ariana Grabowski (Beaver, Pennsylvania), a junior runner-up in Prone at last year’s Nationals, will also be competing this year, hoping to claim a spot on the National Team.
Olympian Emil Milev (Temple Terrace, Florida)is sure to make a strong showing in Rapid Fire Pistol as well as standard pistol this year as he gears up for the Rio Olympic Games. Milev’s 2012 Olympic teammate, Nick Mowrer (Butte, Montana) is sure to be a fierce competitor as he contests in Air, Free, and Standard Pistol at this Nationals. Junior men’s sport will be exciting to watch the competition unfold between Henry Leverett (Bainbridge, Georgia) and Charles Platt (Colorado Springs, Colorado). At the recent Junior Olympic Championships, Leverett won by a single point over Platt. Recent Junior Air Champion Anthony McCollum (Purdin, Missouri) is also expected to be shooting Air at these Nationals.
The women’s pistol events are sure to be close. Olympian Enkelejda Shehaj (Naples, Florida) will be shooting both sport pistol and air pistol in preparation for the Rio Olympic Games. The 2012 Olympian Sandra Uptagrafft (Phenix City, Alabama), who finished second to Shehaj by one point in an extremely exciting final match during the sport pistol competition of Olympic Trials, will be shooting sport and air pistol as well as 2008 Olympian Brenda Silva (Snowflake, Arizona) and Alexis Lagan (Salt Lake City, Utah). Lagan was the runner-up Olympic Trials finisher to Paterson in Air Pistol.
As part of Nationals this year, there will be an International Paralympic Committee Grand Prix with Paralympic shooters from eight other countries in attendance. This will be a great opportunity for the five U.S. Paralympic Team members to test themselves against other countries before the Rio Paralympic Games. One team to watch will be Ukraine which has several experienced shooters. Doroshenko Andrii has multiple World Cup titles in standing Air Rifle as well as 50m Prone Rifle. His teammate, Denysiuk Oleksii, is well-accomplished in air pistol as well as 25m pistol. Four U.S. Paralympic Team members are expected to compete including pistol shooter Michael Tagliapietra (Fond du Lac, Wisconsin) and rifle shooters John Joss (USAMU/Corsicana, Texas), Jazmin Almlie-Ryan (Houston, Texas,), and McKenna Dahl (Arlington, Washington). To learn more about our five Paralympians, please see the article linked here.
Competition starts June 23 with 26 events scheduled across the Rifle, Pistol and Paralympic disciplines. Find results from each event here.
2016 National Championships Schedule
Thursday, June 23 & Friday, June 24
Women’s Air Rifle; Men’s 3P Rifle; Standard; Center and Jr Sport Pistol; Mixed Paralympic Air Rifle (R4); Mixed Air Rifle Prone (R3); Women’s Paralympic Air Rifle (R2); Paralympic Mixed 25 m Pistol (P3); Paralympic Men’s 3P Rifle (R7)
Saturday, June 25 & Sunday, June 26
M/W Air Pistol; M/W Prone Rifle; Rapid Fire Pistol (PET / Saturday; Day 1 Sunday); Paralympic Air Pistol (P1&P2); Paralympic Mixed Prone Rifle (R6/9)
Monday, June 27 & Tuesday, June 28
Men’s Air Rifle; Rapid Fire Pistol (Day 2 Monday); Women’s 3P Rifle; Men’s Free Pistol (Day 1 Tuesday); Women’s Sport Pistol (Day 1 Tuesday);Men’s Paralympic Air Rifle (R1); Women’s Paralympic 3P Rifle (R8); Paralympic Mixed 50m Free Pistol (P4 / Day 1 Tuesday); Paralympic Mixed Prone Air Rifle (R5 / Day 1);
Wednesday, June 29
Women’s Sport (Day 2); Men’s Free Pistol (Day 2); Paralympic Mixed Prone Air Rifle (R5 / Day 2); Paralympic Mixed 50 m Free Pistol (P4 / Day 2)