USAMU Soldiers’ help secure Olympic spots for USA

by U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit
Stripes Korea

Courtesy USA Shooting

Changwon, South Korea – Soldiers from the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit (USAMU) competed at the 2018 International Shooting Sports Federation (ISSF) World Championships in South Korea from August 31 to September 15. The ISSF World Championships stood as the first opportunity for USA Shooting, which is the national governing body of shooting sports in the United States, to earn coveted Olympic quota spots. And with some outstanding performances, USAMU Soldiers helped Team USA gain “tickets” to the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan.

Sgt. 1st Class Michael McPhail, a Darlington, Wisconsin native, won the Bronze Medal in Men’s 50m Three-Position Rifle. (The Gold Medal went to Tomasz Bartnik of Poland and the Silver Medal went to Peter Gorsa of Croatia.) McPhail’s medal is the first Men’s 50m Three-Position World Championship medal for the United States since Tom Tamas won the Silver Medal in the same event back in 1994. (Tamas was also a Soldier with the USAMU at that time.)

Along with his Bronze-Medal win, McPhail also earned the United States’ first Olympic quota in the shooting sports for the 2020 Olympic Games. A quota spot is essentially a country’s ticket to compete in a particular Olympic event. USA Shooting athletes winning Olympic quotas will still have to earn the right to compete in the Olympic Games individually though.

Winning the Bronze and a quota spot for Team USA at the ISSF World Championship Finals in Korea gave the Fort Benning Soldier a feeling that he has not had in a while.

“That feeling in the Final is something I haven’t felt in a long time,” said McPhail, beaming. The 36-year-old Soldier took a break from international competition following the 2016 ISSF World Cup Final where he won Gold in Men’s Prone Rifle. The last international event where he shot Men’s Three-Position Rifle was the 2014 ISSF World Championship.

“Being in that Final was kind of nice. It was nice to hear your name, your legs shaking, heart beating – it’s really one of the things that makes this sport fun. If you get into a Final and that’s not happening, it’s not a whole lot of fun anymore. For the first time in a long time, I got that feeling back.”

Also during the ISSF World Championships, the USA Shooting Team claimed the Women’s Skeet podium with USAMU’s 2nd Lt. Amber English, a Colorado Springs, Colorado native, bringing home a Bronze Medal. (Caitlin Connor seized the Gold Medal while Kim Rhode secured the Silver Medal.)

English, who recently joined the Army, won the Bronze Medal with 46 target hits in the Final. English also won a Bronze Medal in Women’s Skeet at the ISSF World Cup in April 2018 and a Silver Medal at the ISSF World Cup in June 2018.

By claiming all three podium positions at the 52nd ISSF World Championships, the United States claimed the maximum number of two Olympic quota spots available in Women’s Skeet since each country can only earn two quotas per event.

The last time the United States swept an open [adult] podium at a World Championship was in 1974 when John Writer, Lones Wigger and Lanny Bassham swept the 50m Men’s Three-Position Rifle podium in Thun, Switzerland. (Writer, Wigger and Bassham all served as Soldiers with the USAMU as well.)

A quota spot in Men’s Skeet was also earned when former USAMU Soldier, Vincent Hancock, claimed his Gold Medal and World Championship title.

American shooting sport athletes claimed a few additional medals at the ISSF World Championships in the team events too.

In the Men’s 50m Prone Rifle Team event, it was a Silver Medal for team members McPhail, Matt Emmons, and Lucas Kozeniesky. (Germany took the Gold while China won the Bronze.)

In the Women’s Skeet Team event, it was a Gold for team members English, Connor and Rhode. (Italy won Silver and Cyprus won the Bronze.)

In the Men’s Trap Team event, it was a Silver Medal for team members Grayson Davey, Casey Wallace and USAMU’s 2008 Olympic Gold Medalist, Sgt. 1st Class Glenn Eller.

Team medals at the ISSF World Championships do not earn country quota spots like the individual wins of McPhail and English though. That is because the Olympic team members will be made up from the individual athletes who make Team USA, which is yet to be decided.

Side by side with other American athletes, USAMU Soldiers helped Team USA secure four shooting sport tickets to the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan. The 52nd ISSF World Championships conclude with 60 of the total 360 available Olympic quota spots being distributed. Additional shooting sport quota spots will be up for grabs during the 2019 ISSF World Cup series.

The U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit wins national and international shooting competitions, supports Army marketing engagements, and advances small arms lethality to demonstrate Army marksmanship capability, connect America to its Army and enhance marksmanship effectiveness in combat. USAMU is part of the U.S. Army Marketing Engagement Brigade and Army Marketing and Research Group.

Photo Caption:

Changwon, South Korea – Soldiers from the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit (USAMU) competed at the 2018 International Shooting Sports Federation (ISSF) World Championships in South Korea from August 31 to September 15. The ISSF World Championships stood as the first opportunity for USA Shooting, which is the national governing body of shooting sports in the United States, to earn coveted Olympic quota spots. And with some outstanding performances, USAMU Soldiers helped Team USA gain “tickets” to the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan. Sgt. 1st Class Glenn Eller, USAMU Soldier and 2008 Olympic Gold Medalist, competes in the Men's Trap Final of the 2018 ISSF World Championships.

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