Over 60 athletes from four countries competed in the annual Robert Mitchell Rifle Championships, which concluded Sunday, February 18 at the Olympic Shooting Center in Colorado Springs, CO. Titles awarded were in Men’s and Women’s Air and Three-Position Rifle.
This match was the first to utilize the new International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) rules in which men and women shoot the same number of competition shots in each event.
The match originated under Robert Mitchell back in 1986 when he was the National Rifle Coach. Mitchell helped build USA Shooting into the elite National Governing Body it is today during his 30-year career with the organization. He held roles such as National Team Coach, Director of Operations and Chief Executive Officer. In August 2016, USA Shooting staff announced the renaming of this match from the Rocky Mountain Rifle Championship in his honor.
Though it may have been a smaller match in attendance numbers, there were big scores put up by the athletes in competition. 2016 Olympian Lucas Kozeniesky (Fairfax, VA) and three-time Olympic medalist Matt Emmons (Browns Mills, NJ) shot world-class Qualification scores of 1178 and 1177 respectively in Men’s Three-Position Rifle. The duo would also end up with Kozeniesky with gold and Emmons silver. Former Prone Rifle specialist Michael McPhail (Darlington, WI) won the bronze medal. On the junior side, Peter Fiori (Lebanon, NJ) won gold, Devin Schwindt (Lees Summit, MO) won silver and John Peterson (Kellar, TX) won bronze.
In the Women’s competition, 14 year old Katie Zaun (Buffalo, ND) and Erin McNeil (Fort Wayne, IN) each shot 1165 in Qualification in the Open (adult) division. Despite these efforts, Rachel Martin (Peralta, NM, pictured at top) was the only athlete to win titles in both disciplines, claiming the Women’s Air and Three-Position Rifle titles. Alison Weisz (Belgrade, MT) won silver in Women’s Three-Position Rifle and McNeil won bronze. Weisz also shot a Qualification score of 625.7 in the Women’s Air Rifle event.
In Women’s Air Rifle, Angeline Henry (Fort Worth, TX) won the silver medal, as well as the gold in the Women’s Three-Position Rifle event. Winning bronze in Women’s Air Rifle was 16 year old Macey Way (Colorado Springs, CO) who also shot an impressive day one Qualification score of 624.1.
The most dominating Finals performance came from 14 year old Emily Brock (Delmont, SD) who won the Junior Women’s Air Rifle event with a Finals score of 250.4—an impressive score in the Open division in international competition. Morgan Kreb (Colorado Springs, CO) won silver in the Junior Women’s Air Rifle event and Zaun won the bronze.
Earlier in the week in Men’s Air Rifle, Matt Rawlings (Wharton, TX) won the gold medal. Dempster Christenson (Sioux Falls, SD) won silver and Kozeniesky won bronze. On the junior side, Jordan Williams (Colorado Springs, CO) won gold, Travis Stockton (Arvada, CO) won silver and Ryan Habeck (Fort Pierre, SD) finished third to win the bronze.
The final event was the Junior Women’s Three-Position Rifle event where Henry won gold, Zaun won silver and Mary Tucker (Sarasota, FL) won bronze. Henry, along with Emmons, won the Mixed Air Rifle Team event as well on the first day of competition.