Above: Dan Lowe of the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit had to beat two other competitors during the Day 3 final in order to earn the second air rifle slot. Once he realized he had done it, he gave a smile of relief on the firing line.
The Civilian Marksmanship Program’s (CMP) Gary Anderson CMP Competition Center hosted the final opportunity for athletes vying for a trip to the XXXI Olympiad in Rio de Janeiro in August during the last Olympic Trials of the year, June 3-5 at Camp Perry. The event was conducted by USA Shooting.
The best marksmen from around the country in men and women’s air rifle and air pistol competed for the remaining spots during three days of qualifications and finals. Only five spots were available: one each in women’s air pistol/rifle and men’s air pistol and two in men’s air rifle.
Competitors shot qualification scores each day before the Top 8 individuals competed in the day’s finals. During an elimination final, competitors earned points based on their placing. At the end of the three days, qualification scores and finals points were combined to determine the overall winners in each category.
In the men’s competition, Will Brown, 24, earned the air pistol slot after defeating 2008 and 2012 Olympian Jason Turner in Day 3’s finals. This was Brown’s second Olympic Trials—earning an alternate position in 2012.
With the excitement of making the Olympic team, his mind was still trying to catch up with the moment, saying, “I don’t know how it all feels yet. I’ll let you know tomorrow!”
A competitive marksman since 2006, Brown is a three-time Junior Olympic Champion and earned the Olympic Quota for the United States with his gold medal in the Championship of the Americas in 2014, allowing the U.S. to compete in air pistol during the 2016 Olympics.
“I’m looking forward to the match and hopefully doing well,” he said. “It’s supposed to be a pretty unforgettable experience, so I’m looking forward to that.”
Two spots were open on the men’s air rifle team, secured by Lucas Kozeniesky and Dan Lowe. Rio will be the first Olympics showing for both men.
Kozeniesky, 21, guaranteed himself the first available spot even before the final on Day 3 of the Olympic Trials at Camp Perry—finishing qualification 20 points ahead of the closest competitor. With three strong days on the firing line and the facial expressions of the crowd behind him, he knew the spot was his. Still, he reminded himself to stay focused going into the last final.
“I stayed positive and kept everything simple—I didn’t overthink anything, and I let the training that I’ve been doing over the last couple of months just take over,” he said. “I gave myself a lot of straight self-talk. ‘Lucas, you need to be 100 percent here at this time.’ I’m usually really good at that, but today I was kind of like, ‘Wow, you made the Olympics!’”
A student at North Carolina State, Kozeniesky will be the first athlete from the school’s rifle program to compete at the Olympics. Green to the world of competitive shooting, he joined the sport in high school after his parents told him to choose an activity. After thinking about it, he knew right away what he wanted to do.
“My parents said, ‘Pick something,’ and so I picked something. I picked rifle,” he said. “I thought it was really cool, and the next thing I know, I’m doing it.”
And the next thing you know, he’s heading to the Olympics. During the games ahead, he’s eager to compete against the best shooters in the world and is excited for the overall experience he will gain.
Dan Lowe, 23, is a member of the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit (AMU). After qualifications on Day 3 at Camp Perry, he found himself fighting for the second and final spot on the Olympic team against three other talented competitors who were all close in score—leaving the finals to determine the winner.
“I gave it my all and shot it like I was the only one up there,” Lowe said.
Competitors were slowly eliminated one-by-one from the tense final. With three competitors left on the line, one being Kozeniesky and the other two contending for the last Team USA spot, Lowe kept his composure and fired the shot that kept him in the final. With only he and Kozeniesky left, he knew he had done it, and he gave a grin of relief.
“That was when I realized how much I was shaking,” he said with a laugh. “And to kind of vent some of that energy, I just had to smile.”
After winning the finals on Day 3 and now being able to officially set his sights on the Olympics, Lowe is anxiously anticipating his opportunity to win in Rio.
“Now it starts,” he said. “It’s a great experience getting to represent the country and to represent the Army. I’m looking forward to it.”
For a complete list of results of the Olympic Trials at Camp Perry, visit the USA Shooting website at www.usashooting.org.