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NEWS | Feb. 4, 2022

U.S. Army Soldiers earn several spots on USA National Shotgun Team

By Maj. Michelle Lunato U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit

Six U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit Soldiers earned spots on the National Shotgun Team at USA Shooting’s Winter Shotgun Selection Match in Tucson, Arizona January 11-16.

In the Trap discipline, Sgt. Will Hinton, a Dacula, Georgia native, won the Silver Medal after hitting 271 out of 300 targets during the four-days of qualification rounds and a Final. This Silver Medal finish placed him between civilian athletes, Jake Wallace and 2021 Olympian Derrick Mein, who won the Gold and Bronze Medals, respectively.

USAMU’s Staff Sgt. Derek Haldeman, a Sunbury, Ohio native, placed fourth overall in the Selection Match, also securing a coveted spot on the National Shotgun Team. Olympic Bronze Medalist Brian Burrows and Emilio Carvalho followed, making up the remaining top six in the Men’s Trap Category.

USAMU’s Sgt. Rachel Tozier, a Pattonsburg, Missouri native, claimed the Bronze Medal in the Women’s Trap Category behind Olympic Silver Medalist Kayle Browning and Aeriel Skinner. Civilian competitors Ida Brown, Ryann Phillips and Sydney Krieger completed out the top six for the women.
In the Skeet discipline, 2021 Olympian Sgt. Phillip Jungman, a Caldwell, Texas native, won the Silver Medal with his 244 hits. With the Silver Medal, Jungman ensured he’d again compete alongside 3x Olympic Gold Medalist Vincent Hancock, who is a veteran of the USAMU.

Completing out the top six in Men’s Skeet were Adam McBee, USAMU’s Staff Sgt. Hayden Stewart, Aidin Burns, and USAMU’s Staff Sgt. Dustan Taylor.
Civilian competitor Samantha Simonton seized the Gold Medal in the Women’s Skeet Category with 243 hits. This Gold Medal performance secured Simonton’s lead spot on the Women’s National Skeet Team and was just 10 days prior to her shipping off to U.S. Army Basic Combat Training.

After training, Simonton will immediately report to the USAMU’s Shotgun Team, effectively increasing the total number of U.S. Army Soldiers on the National Shotgun Team to seven.

Rounding out the Women’s National Skeet Team were Austen Smith, Caitlin Connor, Dania Vizzi, Olympic Gold Medalist U.S. Army Reserve 1st Lt. Amber English (who is another veteran of the USAMU) and Mikena Grace Fulton.

With the International Shooting Sports Federation recently adjusting the Olympic qualification process, USA Shooting’s National Team was chosen from the top six male and female athletes in both Trap and Skeet. These 12 athletes will have the opportunity to represent the Nation in the next several international competitions. This fact made this year’s Selection Match even that much more important, explained Jungman.

“It’s a big deal, because this match defines how your entire year will go. It not only chose the first four World Cups, but will also help in choosing who will attend the Championship of the Americas (CAT Games) and also the 53rd ISSF World Championships in Osijek, Croatia.”

In other words, the 2022 Winter Selection Match was the biggest match in the last three years, said Hinton.

“You wanted to be at the top, or close to the top, going forward into our second Selection Match.”

Considering the importance of this match, Hinton said he spent just as much time mentally preparing for the match as he did physically, and he could not be happier with his Silver Medal win.

“I feel privileged to be top three on the National Shotgun Team. Leading up to this match, I implemented a lot of mental training. I’m excited to compete at these upcoming World Cups and see what 2022 brings.”

The upcoming Shotgun World Cups in will be in Nicosia, Cyprus; Lima, Peru; Lonato, Italy; and Baku, Azerbaijan. So earning a spot on the National Team means these Soldiers will have a full travel calendar and a number of detailed training sessions. It may mean a lot more work in 2022, but it’s an opportunity and privilege ever athlete wants, said Tozier.

“It feels great to have made the 2022 National and World Cup Travel Team. I’m appreciative of the opportunity to represent our Country and the U.S. Army in overseas matches, with the hope of earning a quota for the 2024 Olympics in Paris. It makes for a busy travel schedule, but I wouldn’t want it any other way!”