By Scott McDonald | Oct. 04, 2016, 6:30 p.m. (ET)
Keith Sanderson competes in the men's 25-meter rapid fire pistol final at the Olympic Shooting Center during the ISSF World Cup Rifle/Pistol/Shotgun on April 23, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro.


The rifles and pistols didn’t cool off very long for some athletes after the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympic Games. Six Americans will once again compete at the highest level in their sport at the ISSF World Cup Final for Rifle/Pistol events this week in Bologna, Italy.

Nearly 100 athletes from 34 countries earned points through other world cup events to qualify for the World Cup Final, which will also include medalists from the Olympic Games and 2015 World Cup Final title holders.

American Ginny Thrasher, who won the gold medal in the women’s 10-meter air rifle in Rio, said it could be easy for an enormous multi-sport contest like the Olympic Games to overshadow the World Cup Final, but that it shouldn’t faze her and her teammates.

“Anytime you get the top shooting athletes in the world at one place it’s going to be a great event,” said Thrasher, whose gold medal was the first by any athlete in any sport at the Rio Games. “This is another chance to test our skills and another place to show our level of competition on the world stage.”

Qualifying world cup events preceding the final were held in Bangkok; Rio de Janeiro; Munich; and Baku, Azerbaijan. The World Cup Final for Shotgun — the final shooting event of the season — will be held Oct. 10-16 in Rome.

Matt Emmons (men’s three-position rifle) and Michael McPhail (men’s prone rifle) are defending World Cup Final champions. Joining them and Thrasher will be Keith Sanderson, Will Brown and Sarah Beard.

Here’s a look at their prospects for Bologna:

Michael McPhail
Event: Men’s 50-meter Rifle Prone
Competes: Thursday, Oct. 6
McPhail, who literally shoots for a living, will get things started for the Americans in Italy. McPhail is a Sergeant First Class in the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit. He took up shooting at a young age to become a better hunter, and he’s the defending World Cup Final winner. The two-time Olympian finished ninth at the London 2012 Games and 19th at the Rio Games. He won gold at the 2011 Pan American Games and silver at the 2007 and 2015 Pan Am Games.

Keith Sanderson
Event: Men’s 25-meter Rapid Fire Pistol
Competes: Friday, Oct. 7
The three-time Olympian finished 10th at the Rio Games, 14th at the London Games and fifth at the 2008 Beijing Games. This season, he won silver at the world cup in Rio. He has been among the top shooters in the world in this event ever since he won his first national championship in 2004. He spent eight years in the Marine Corps and eight more in the Army. He serves as chief marksman instructor of the USMC base in Hawaii.


Ginny Thrasher

Event: Women’s 10-meter Air Rifle
Competes: Saturday, Oct. 8
This is Thrasher’s first World Cup Final after winning gold in Rio and placing seventh at the Munich World Cup and 28th at the Rio World Cup. Thrasher’s gold-medal win at the Rio Games most likely supersedes an astonishing feat she achieved as a freshman at West Virginia, when she shot 599 out of 600 on two separate occasions. Last year at WVU she became the first freshman rifle shooter to win both individual titles in air and smallbore to lead the Mountaineers to their 18th overall NCAA title.


Will Brown

Event: Men’s 10-meter Air Pistol
Competes: Saturday, Oct. 8
Brown won silver at the Bangkok World Cup and placed fifth at the Rio World Cup. He finished 12th at the Rio Games in air pistol and 10th in the free pistol. He grew up in a family of shooters and often competes against them. He won the 2015 Winter Airgun Championship title and was the gold-medal winner of the 2014 Championship of America.


Matt Emmons

Event: Men’s 50-meter Rifle Three-Position
Competes: Sunday, Oct. 9
Emmons had an impeccable world cup circuit before finishing 19th at the Rio Games, though he is a three-time Olympic medalist (2004, 2008, 2012). He won gold at the Munich and Bangkok world cups and silver at the Rio World Cup. He not only won last year’s World Cup Final, he won it in 2002, 2004, 2007, 2008 and 2009. Outside of World Cup Finals, he has won 32 world cup medals total dating back to 2001, including seven golds in three-position rifle.


Sarah Beard
Event: Women’s 50-meter Rifle Three-Position
Competes: Sunday, Oct. 9
Beard’s shooting career began in 2006 when she practiced air rifle in her basement, and it blossomed from there. She was a four-time all-American at TCU and two-time NCAA champion (2011, 2013). She was the 2015 national champion in both the air and three-position rifle and placed fifth at the 2015 Fort Benning World Cup to earn an Olympic quota for USA Shooting. Beard has two top-10 world cup finishes to her credit this season, including placing fourth in Bangkok.

Scott McDonald has 18 years experience in sports reporting. He was named the State Sports Writer of the Year in 2014 by the Texas High School Coaches Association. McDonald is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.