AIR RIFLE--UPDATED 8/12

AIR RIFLE--UPDATED 8/12
August 2008

UPDATE 8/12--U.S. Men Fail to Make Air Rifle Final

The men's air rifle finals competition provided some exciting lead changes, but unfortunately neither U.S. shooter was able to join in the fun. Sgt. 1st Class Jason Parker of Omaha, NE, got off to a rough start with a 97 out of 100 on his first 10 shots—dropping three points early in an event where it took a 595 out of 600 to make the final. Parker finished in 23rd place with a 591. Cadet Stephen Scherer of Billerica, MA, tallied a 589 for 27th place.

Going into the final, Finland's Henri Hakkinen had the lead with a 598, followed by Qinan Zhu's 597 score, but it didn't stay that way for long. India's Abhinav Bindra, who entered the final in third with a 596, quickly chipped away at the lead. Bindra's first three shots out of the gate—10.7, 10.3, 10.4 (in the finals, each scoring ring is divided into tenths; a center 10 can score up to 10.9 points)—enabled him to pass Zhu, and by the seventh shot he'd moved in front of Hakkin by 0.2 points as well. Bindra finished strong with a 10.8 on his last shot to win the gold.


Hakkinen still had the silver within his grasp up until the last shot, but he fired a 9.7 to Zhu's 10.5 and slipped into third place.Fifty-one athletes competed in the men's air rifle qualifier, the top eight making it into the finals.


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MEN'S Air Rifle

PLACE ATHLETE QUAL. SCORE FINAL TOTAL
Gold Abhinav Bindra (IND) 596 104.5 700.5
Silver Qinan Zhu (CHN) 597 102.7 699.7
Bronze Henri Hakkinen (FIN) 598 101.4 699.4
4th Alin George Moldoveanu (ROU) 595 103.4 698.4
5th Konstantin Prikhodtchenko (RUS) 595 103.4 698.4
6th Peter Sidi (HUN) 595 103.4 698.4
7th Stevan Pletikosic (SRB) 595 102.7 697.7
8th Serguei Kruglov (RUS) 595 102.0 697.0
23rd Jason Parker (USA) 591
27th Stephen Scherer (USA) 589


UPDATE: USA's Beyerle Finishes Fourth in Women's Air Rifle

Jamie Beyerle of Lebanon, PA, started off just a bit shaky, firing a 98 out of 100 in her first 10 shots, followed by a 99 out of 100, but she finished strong with a pair of perfect 100s to make it into the women's air rifle final in fifth place with a 397 out of 400.

She shot well in the final, firing only two 9s (a 9.6 and a 9.9) out of the 10 shots for a 102.8 (in the finals, each scoring ring is divided into tenths; a center 10 can score up to 10.9 points) and moved into fourth place.


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USA Shooting

Women's Air Rifle

PLACE ATHLETE QUAL. SCORE FINAL TOTAL
Gold Katerina Emmons (CZE) 400* 103.5** 503.5**
Silver Lioubov Galkina (RUS) 399 103.1 502.1
Bronze Snjezana Pejcic (CRO) 399 101.9 500.9
4th Jamie Beyerle (USA) 397 102.8 499.8
5th Du Li (CHN) 399 100.6 499.6
6th Olga Dovgun (KAZ) 397 101.1 498.1
7th Marie Laure Gigon (FRA) 396 101.3 497.3
8th Sylwia Bogacka (POL) 397 98.7 495.7
15th Emily Caruso (USA) 395
*=World Record, **=Olympic Record, Finals


The day belonged to Katerina Emmons of the Czech Republic, who set a world record with a perfect 400 in the qualifying round. No one came close to catching Emmons, wife of U.S. rifle shooter Matt Emmons, in the final as she tallied a 103.5 on the final 10 shots to win the gold—setting Olympic finals records in the process.

Lioubov Galkina of Russia captured the silver and Snjezana Pejcic of Croatia won the bronze. Both had entered the finals a single point behind Emmons with 399s.

USA's Emily Caruso of Fairfield, CT, finished 15th with a 395, missing the final by a single point. After starting out the match with a 98 on her first 10 shots, she fired not one but two perfect 10-shot strings but finished with a 97.Forty-seven athletes competed in the women's air rifle qualifier, the top eight making it into the finals.

Olympic event since 1984
2008 U.S. Olympians: Jamie Beyerle, Emily Caruso, Sgt. 1st Class Jason Parker, Cadet Stephen Scherer

Rifle: .177 caliber air rifle not to exceed 5.5 kg; no thumbhole stocks, thumb rests, palm rests, heel rests or spirit levels. Feinwerkbau is the No. 1 rifle you'll see on the line, along with some Walthers and a few others.

Range: 10 meters

Scoring: Target is 45.5mm (1.79 inches) wide with scoring rings 1 to 10. Black portion containing rings 4 to 10 is 30.5mm. 10-ring is a white dot measuring 0.5mm (0.02 inches). In finals competition, scoring rings are divided into tenths, with an exact center 10 scoring 10.9.

Course of fire

Men: 60 shots standing in 1 hour, 45 minutes
Women: 40 shots standing in 1 hour 15 minutes

Finals: The top eight shooters fire a 10-shot final from the standing position, one shot at a time, with a time limit of 75 seconds for each. Scores are announced and final tallies updated after each shot.

What to watch for: Air rifle might be the truest test of hold, trigger control and follow-through ever invented for rifle shooters. And at the Olympic level, the scores these athletes shoot are scary. Nowadays for women it takes a score of 398 to 399 out of 400 just to get into the final, and U.S. hopes rest with Emily Caruso, the country's best women's air rifle shooter for the past six years. "She doing really well," Johnson says. "She had a great year and has the experience it takes." Jamie Beyerle is also co

mpeting. "She's a real dark horse in this event, I think," Johnson says. They'll be going up against top shooters from Russia, Germany and the Czech Republic (whose representative, incidentally, is married to U.S. shooter Matt Emmons).

In the men's event, watch for Jason Parker, the 2002 world champion in air rifle. "Jason hasn't had exactly a stellar past year or so in airgun," Johnson says, "but even at that he's been right around the finals in recent competitions and has made it into a few." His counterpart, West Point Cadet Stephen Scherer, is a newcomer, just having joined the U.S. team earlier this year. "He's a hard worker," Johnson says. "I think he can do well since he has shot 597 in the past," the level it takes to make it into the finals. As Johnson points out, in all the rifle events it's a one-day deal, and anyone at this level can put the scores together to win it--even a newcomer.

The U.S. faces a wide field of competition here: Austria, Germany, India, China (No. 1 in the world), India, Romania and several other countries as possibilities to put shooters on the podium.

Past U.S. medalists
Nancy Johnson, gold, Sydney 2000
Pat Spurgin, gold, Los Angeles 1984

Men's Olympic record: 599/600, Zhu Qina, China, Athens 2004
with finals: 702.7 (599+103.7), Zhu Qina, China, Athens 2004
Men's world record: 597/600, 3 tied
with finals: 700.2 (596+104.2), Leif Steinar Rolland, Norway, 1997
Women's Olympic record: 399/400, Lioubov Galkina, Russia, Athens 2004
with finals: 502 (398+104), Du Li, China, Athens 2004
Women's world record: 400/400, 9 tied
with finals: 504.9, 2 tied

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