July 27, 2021
American Olympic sport shooters are claiming gold.
Olympic veteran Vincent Hancock took the gold medal with a score of 59 in the final, dropping just one target. This was Hancock’s unprecedented third trip to the top of the podium in the Men’s Skeet competition. Hancock took gold in 2008 and 2012. He competed in 2016 but didn’t place in the medal count.
Amber English matched the feat, taking gold in the Women’s Skeet competition with a score of 56 and setting an Olympic record at Japan’s Asaka Shooting Range. English missed just four targets and bested her nearest competitor’s score of 51.
English is also the first U.S. service member to medal in the Olympic games. English is a first lieutenant in the U.S. Army’s Marksmanship Training Unit and part of the Army's World Class Athlete Program (WCAP). Her path to the podium has been a steep and twisting trail, according to USA Today. English fell short of making the U.S. Olympic team for the 2012 London games and again in the 2016 Rio Olympics. Her father, Mike, was a five-time national shooting champion and passed away that year.
English stepped away from the sport in 2017 but was convinced to make another run by Hancock, who also previously served in the U.S. Army. The two had known and trained alongside one another since they were teens and have remained close.
"I couldn't be happier for her," Hancock said according to USA Today. "I love that girl like a sister. Now we both have medals around our necks."
"It sets the tone of what can be expected from USA Shooting," Hancock added. "Our athletes have been competing at a really high level for quite a few years now. I think that's because we’re a small sport, we don't get quite the recognition. But when looking at the number of medals that we win on a yearly basis, it's impressive."
It was actually Will Shaner who set the tone for USA Shooting. University of Kentucky's Shaner took gold and set a new record in the Men’s 10 Meter Air Rifle competition with a final round score of 251.6, just 1.2 points shy of the world record. Shaner’s feat comes on the heels of his second-place NCAA finish air rifle individual championship.
Shaner took the lead in the final in the second five-shot round, scoring at least 10.6 on each of his five shots, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal. Shaner landed each of his 24 shots in the final in the 10-point ring.
"I never really thought I could win," Shaner said. "It's a big stage. There's a lot of good competition. This being my first one gives me a lot of confidence going into next World Cups."
Just 20-years-old, Shaner is the youngest American man to compete in an Olympic rifle event.