Soldiers with the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit won two medals at the Federation Francaise De Tir Grand Prix in Chateauroux, France April 20-23.
The Soldiers, who are all marksmanship instructors/competitive shooters with the unique unit located at Fort Benning, Georgia, traveled to France as part of USA Shooting’s National Trap Team, along with their civilian teammates.
The Olympic Trap portion of the 2nd French Grand Prix included 219 athletes from 19 different nations, and a great deal of challenging weather. Through varying degrees wind, rain and cold, all the athletes completed five 25-target rounds to determine who medaled.
After three days, both the U.S. Men’s and Women’s Trap Teams secured a place the podium, at the very same ranges that the 2024 Olympics will be held at.
The U.S. Men’s Trap Team claimed the Silver Medal with a combined score of 341, while France seized the Gold Medal with 346. Italy took the Bronze with 335. The team included 2020 Olympian Derrick Mein and USAMU’s Staff Sgt. Derek Haldeman and Olympic Gold Medalist Sgt. 1st Class Glenn Eller.
The U.S. Women’s Trap Team took the Bronze Medal (328) behind France (331) and China (320). The team included Ryann Phillips and USAMU’s Staff Sgt. Rachel Tozier and Sgt. Alicia Gough.
International competition has proven to be great training for all athletes. It test the marksman’s ability to shoot under pressure, cope with the stress and succeed against the best in the world. And when that international competition is at the same ranges as the upcoming Olympic Games, the value of that competition is tremendous, said Eller, a Katy, Texas native who is seeking a spot on his fifth Olympic Team.
“It was great to see the range and know what were have to look forward to, if and when we make the team.”
Training on the Olympic range was certainly a fun way to train, but the less-than-perfect weather added an entirely new level to the training value, said Gough, a Burlington, Wisconsin native.
“The match held tough conditions for us with constant lighting changes, rain and wind moving in and out. Each round had its own difficulties that were great opportunities to work through varying match scenarios.”
Of course, winning a medal after all made it even better, said Gough.
“Earning a podium placement with Staff Sgt. Rachel Tozier and Ryann Phillips was icing on the cake!”