World Cup
Wang Tao of China lines up a shot during the Men's Air Rifle finals Monday at the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit's Pool Indoor Range. His comrade, Zhu Qinan, won the bronze medal for this event. The gold medal went to Pierre Edmond Piasecki of

FORT BENNING, Ga. - France's Pierre Edmond Piasecki fired first. Niccolo Campriani of Italy took a deep breath, let off his stance and gave a smile to the crowd Monday as he prepared to fire his last shot of the Men's Air Rifle final in the 2011 International Shooting Sport Federation World Cup, which the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit is hosting this week.

Trailing by three-tenths of a point going into the last competition shot, Piasecki hit a score of 10.5, while Campriani scored a 10.2, forcing a shoot-off.

Piasecki took the first shot and scored a 10.1, giving him a final round tally of 103.8 of a possible 110 points, and a tournament tally of 700.8 of 710 possible points.

After a few moments of silence, Campriani, the No. 1-ranked shooter in the world, fired and came up with a 10.0, giving Piasecki the gold medal.

Five hundred competitors from 60 countries are at Fort Benning to compete in a week's worth of events, which could earn medalists a spot in the 2012 London Olympics.

This marks the second consecutive year Fort Benning is hosting a World Cup and this year's event is the largest shooting event to take place in North America.

The Men's Air Rifle final featured eight shooters, three of whom earned a final spot after a six-person shoot-off between competitors who tied in the qualifying round. USA's Bryant Wallizer barely missed a spot in the finals as he finished fourth in the qualifying shoot-off.

Matt Rawlings of the USAMU also competed in the qualifying round Monday morning and scored a 496 of a possible 600 points.

In the qualifying round, each competitor received 1 hour, 45 minutes to fire 60 shots, with each shot having a maximum value of 10 points. Camprianani bested the qualifying field with a score of 599.

"To win, you can only drop one or two points," Rawlings said. "I started out really well. It could have been better. This sport is based on minuscule amounts of movement. Things may work one day and not the next. It's up to you to peak at the right time."

Rawlings qualified for the World Cup by winning a match at the Winter Air Gun Championship in Colorado Springs, Colo. Rawlings also competed in the World Cup events held in Sydney, and Changwon, South Korea.

Though disappointed, Rawlings said he will continue to train hard as he continues his quest for the 2012 Olympics. Winning the World Cup events do not automatically guarantee a spot in the Olympics. Athletes must meet a certain quota on an overall points system.

"(This) would have definitely put me a lot closer," Rawlings said. "It would have put me one medal shy of an automatic invite, I believe. It's a little disheartening. You always come into these matches with the expectation to win. I learned a lot and I'm going to take that and apply it to the next World Cup."

The World Cup continues through Sunday. A schedule of events can be found at www.usashooting.sports.officelive.com.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16