DVIDS – News – Five U.S. Army Soldiers Will Represent Team USA in Shotgun Events at the World Championship in Croatia

Five Fort Benning Soldiers will represent Team USA at the upcoming International Shooting Sports Federation Shotgun World Championships in Osijek, Croatia, September 19-October 12.

To form Team USA, the Soldiers, who are all marksmanship instructors/competitive shooters for the US Army Marksmanship Unit’s shotgun team, competed alongside the best trap and skeet athletes from around the country in various USA Shooting Selection Matches. Now, these Fort Benning soldiers, along with their civilian teammates, will be chasing not only World Championship medals but coveted quotas for the 2024 Olympics.

In order to compete in the Olympics, each country must first earn a quota or spot for one of its athletes, and only two athletes are allowed per event, per country. The Croatian World Championship is the United States’ first opportunity to earn odds on trap and skeet events.

That fact alone makes the World Cup in Croatia a high-stakes competition, and the soldiers know it.

“It’s humbling and exciting to represent the U.S. Army and the United States at the World Championships,” said Sgt. Rachel Tozier, a Pattonsburg, Missouri native who has been on both the women’s trap and mixed trap teams -Events will attend.

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After a competitive selection process, Sgt. Will Hinton, like Tozier, knows it was a privilege to join the team. But now this Dacula, Georgia native says it’s time to put his past efforts to the test.

“Through serious training and focus on my sport, I was able to secure a place on the team. I look forward to continuing to use my skills with the intention of winning an Olympic quota and a medal for the USA and the US Army at this World Championships,” said Hinton, who competes in both the men’s trap and men’s mixed trap team events.

The trap portion of the World Championship will take place from September 26th to 30th.

The Skeet portion of the World Championships will take place October 7-11 and will feature three other USAMU Soldiers.

Newest to the unit, but not to the international circuit, is Spc. Samantha Simonton of Gainesville, Georgia. This veteran World Championship athlete will compete in both women’s skeet and mixed skeet team events.

On the men’s side there are two other Fort Benning soldiers: Staff Sergeants Christian Elliott and Dustan Taylor. They will compete in both men’s skeet and mixed skeet team competitions.

With the top international competitors all vying for the limited medals and Olympic quotas, the competition will be intense, but that’s also what makes this World Championship so unique, Elliott said.

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“The ISSF World Championship hosts the top international shotgun shooters each year. Being able to represent the U.S. Army and the United States at this event inherently adds a level of pride and honor unmatched by many competitions,” said the Greenville, Indiana native.

With this pressure, Soldiers know they must overcome any fear and stay focused on the mission, Taylor said.

“I am currently fully focused on my fundamentals, foundation and rotation. When all of this is in sync, the game slows down and the goals seem to get bigger,” explained the Liberty, North Carolina native.

“When I train, I don’t focus on the score. I have a target for each shot and I pause my body movement before shooting my next target. This second nature allows me to spot problems before they cause misses without having to ask a trainer what my body did differently on the previous shot.”

For all their focus and determination on the process, every soldier feels the excitement deep down when they’re not on the range. For Taylor, competing in his first-ever World Championship is more than a mission, it’s the biggest competition of his life.

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“This is an opportunity I’ve dreamed of since I started shooting international skeet.”

To follow World Championship details, visit the ISSF website at https://www.issf-sports.org/competitions/venue/schedule.ashx?cshipid=3073.

Date of recording: 09/21/2022
Release Date: 09/21/2022 12:08
Story ID: 429778
Hometown: DACULA, GA, USA
Hometown: LIBERTY, NY, USA

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