Shooting Preview

As USA Shooting prepares for the Olympic Games in Tokyo, it is launching the #RaiseTheFlag campaign, a motivational driver to pursue all available resources in support of athletes to reach their goals in Olympic competition.

Leading the way for USA Shooting and this campaign is Olympic Games veteran and world champion Kim Rhode. While world champion and six-time Olympic Games veteran currently occupies an alternate team position for Tokyo 2021, she has her sights set on the next Olympic Games in Paris and Los Angeles.

Other U.S. shotgun athletes are poised to break out on the Olympic stage in Tokyo, such as Team USA veteran Vincent Hancock. Hancock is in pursuit of his fourth straight Olympic Games, having earned back-to-back gold medals at Beijing 2008 and London 2012.

The spotlight will also fall on the U.S. men’s trap program, as it fields its first Olympians since 2008. The historic 1-2 finish by Brian Burrows and Derek Haldeman at the 2019 Pan American Games secured two quota places for Team USA after a 12-year drought. Burrows and Haldeman went on to fill those quotas by qualifying for the Olympic Team and will get the chance to prove themselves on the Olympic stage next year in Tokyo.

Olympic air rifle gold medalist Ginny Thrasher graduated from West Virginia University in 2019 and has moved to the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado, to prepare for the Tokyo Games. She will have a chance to earn a spot on the Olympic smallbore rifle team at Olympic Trials later this year. Mary Tucker and Ali Weisz earned spots on the Olympic Team in women’s air rifle back in February 2020.

Aiming for the Olympic smallbore rifle team, which has not yet been selected, two-time Olympian Michael McPhail is reinventing himself as a three-position rifle specialist following the removal of prone rifle, his previous specialty, from the Olympic program. He recently finished third in three-position rifle at the 2018 world championships. Other rifle athletes to watch include 2016 Olympian Lucas Kozeniesky and 2012 Olympian Nick Mowrer, already a 2021 Olympian in men’s air pistol. Kozeniesky and William Shaner earned spots on the Olympic men’s air rifle team in February 2020.

The U.S. pistol team is primed for a youthful resurgence with the rise of Alexis Lagan. With a pistol program desperate for success, Lagan represents the next generation of athletes ready to take her sport higher. She won her Olympic quota, four gold medals, and one silver medal at the 2018 Championship of the Americas. Other strong pistol contenders include 2012 Olympians Sandra Uptagrafft and Mowrer, as well as Tokyo quota-earner James Hall. For rapid fire pistol athlete Keith Sanderson, the Tokyo Games will mark his fourth Olympic appearance.

Updated on July 19, 2020. For more information, contact the sport press officer here.

Skeet Treat: Since 2016, the U.S. women’s skeet team has been on the rise in international competition. Team USA swept the podium at the 2018 World Championships, with Caitlin Connor earning the title, Kim Rhode claiming silver, and Amber English capturing bronze. The U.S.’s depth is unmatched in women’s skeet. For the first time since 1996, USA Shooting will debut a women’s skeet team with two new athletes. Amber English and Austen Smith harbor the potential to continue the tradition excellence and earning Olympic medals.

Sport Changes: Gone from the Olympic program are prone rifle, free pistol, and double trap, replaced by mixed team events in air rifle, air pistol, and trap. Additionally, women and men now shoot the same course of fire in all events, whereas previously women had fewer shots in Olympic competition.

Vincent Hancock (Eatonton, Georgia)

 Seeking a third Olympic gold medal, Hancock’s mastery of the sport continues to grow. He claimed five world cup victories in 2019 and has added a rigorous physical training program to his already extensive training routine. When he’s at the top of his game, there’s no one in the world better than Hancock.

Austen Smith (Keller, Texas)

Smith has only been shooting for six years and did not expect to make it to Tokyo. She was competing on the junior circuit just a year prior. Smith won world championship silver in 2017 and bronze in 2018 in the junior skeet event, which she rounded out with a junior individual world cup gold and junior mixed team gold in 2019. She beat out six-time Olympic legend Kim Rhode to earn her spot on the team, and all eyes will be on the eighteen-year-old as she competes for the first time on the Olympic stage as a member of the Olympic Skeet Team.

Nick Mowrer (Butte, Montana)

Mowrer has earned world cup medals in both pistol and rifle disciplines, the only shooting athlete in history to do so. As he continues to build momentum in international competition, he is a sure favorite at the Tokyo Games.

Keith Sanderson (Colorado Springs, Colorado)

Sanderson started shooting in 1996 in Marine Corps matches. He spent eight years in the Marine Corps and six years in the U.S. Army and was the chief marksmanship instructor for Marine Corps Base Hawaii. Sanderson won the gold at the World Cup Final in India in 2017 and has an impressive 10 world cup medals under his belt. Tokyo will mark his fourth Olympic Games.

As USA Shooting heads toward the Olympic Games, Team USA has earned 21 total quotas, including the elusive men’s trap spots. With no more quota earning potential, the U.S. will be entering the Games with eight rifle, eight shotgun, and five pistol quotas. As Team USA moves through this unusual year on its way to Tokyo, athletes look forward to future competitions to ensure they are ready come July. With the final Olympic Trials scheduled for the end of 2020, Team USA expects to have a well-rounded team with a mix of new faces and returning Olympians.

The Tokyo test event was scheduled in April 2020, where Team USA looked forward to having its full Olympic team in attendance to compete against the world’s best in Tokyo for the first time. The Tokyo test event also gives the U.S. a great opportunity to see and compete on the Olympic range before the Games officially begin. While there is no information on rescheduling the test event due to the impact of COVID-19, we hope to have our athletes compete at a 2021 test event.

Spots on the 2020 U.S. Olympic Shooting Team are up for grabs with a two-part U.S. Olympic Team Trials match. Following the completion of the U.S. Olympic Shooting Team Trials Part II, a ranking list is finalized based on total points.

The 2020 U.S. Olympic Shooting Team Trials started in the fall of 2019 and will conclude with the final Smallbore Rifle Team Trials Part II. Due to the impact of COVID-19 and the delay of the Olympic Games, these dates are still being determined and will be announced when a decision has been made. The two-part match will consist of four courses of fire and two finals in each of the two events.

Due to the postponement of the Games in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, key dates in the upcoming year are still being determined.