For the 25 Team USA shooting athletes competing at the 2015 Pan Am Games, their eight days of events will be spent trying to secure the remaining 15 Olympic quotas that remain for a place in next summer's Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. All shooting will take place at the Pan Am Shooting Centre, located about an hour north of Toronto.
A selection committee was tasked with the responsibility of picking the U.S. rifle and pistol participants, based on recent showings in world cup and selection matches. Shotgun competitors earned their place through a two-part selection match staged at Gabala, Azerbaijan, in the World Cup Final and the 2015 world championships.
“We feel absolutely confident in the team that has been assembled and their ability to earn the quotas that are available,” said Dave Johnson, USA Shooting’s national rifle coach and director of operations. “Being selected to a Pan American Games team and being a part of something bigger than the sport itself is a true honor and a privilege and I know our athletes will embrace this opportunity.”
The U.S. comes into the 2015 Pan Am Games very much the favorites in many of the events, as the past three Pan Am Games saw the U.S. finish first in the shooting medal count.
In total, two Olympic quota spots are available per event for each country and to date, the U.S. has yet to lock up any quotas in men’s trap, men’s three-position rifle and women’s sport pistol, making those competitions the main points of emphasis going into the Games. Team USA can earn one quota per event in 11 others at the Pan Am Games.
Shooting will take place from July 12-19, and each of the three disciplines – rifle, prone, trap – will have five events.
The U.S. men’s rifle team features Michael McPhail, a two-time world cup gold medalist this year, competing in prone alongside George Norton. Norton and Ryan Anderson will compete in three-position, and Connor Davis and Bryant Wallizer will shoot air.
Women’s three-position includes 2012 Olympian Amanda Furrer and Hannah Black, while Elizabeth Marsh and Sarah Osborn will contend in women’s air.
The men’s pistol team stars Olympic bronze medalist Jason Turner and Olympian Nick Mowrer, who will both compete in free. Mowrer will also join Jay Shi in air. The rapid fire lineup is Brad Balsley and five-time Olympian Emil Milev.
For the women, Olympian Sandra Uptagrafft will have double duty for the U.S. as she shoots in both the air and sport, alongside Courtney Anthony in air and Olympian Brenda Silva in sport.
“I am excited and honored to be chosen to represent the United States in these Pan American Games,” said Uptagrafft. “It's quite a big responsibility to be entrusted with the mission of earning an Olympic country quota spot, but I look forward to this challenge. I have made some good friends on the Canadian shooting team, so am also looking forward to visiting with them in their home country.”
In shotgun, eight Americans will go for the gold, including five-time Olympian Kim Rhode in women’s skeet. Rhode was the U.S. flag bearer for the Opening Ceremony of the Toronto Games. She is the only U.S. athlete to earn an individual medal at five consecutive Olympic Games. Kayle Browning and Kimberley Bowers will compete in women’s trap.
In men’s trap, Myles Walker and Jake Wallace will represent Team USA, while four-time Olympian Glenn Eller will be the lone U.S. participant in double trap. Men’s skeet includes T.J. Bayer and Dustin Perry.
“Selection for the Pan Am Games was one of the toughest selection procedures I have been a part of,” Wallace said. “We shot on two very difficult and different ranges. And although the scores were the lowest I have seen in a while, consistency paid off in the end.”