By Michael Molinaro, Army Marksmanship UnitMay 22, 2012
FORT BENNING, Ga. (May 22, 2012) -- Untying a bag of experience that comes from being a three-time Olympian, Sgt. 1st Class Jason Parker, U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit, used some of that knowledge and claimed a gold medal at the Italy Rifle and Pistol World Cup, May 17, in Milan.
The win for Parker in Men's Three-Position Rifle comes just two weeks before the final Olympic Trials for shooting commences at Fort Benning, picking the perfect time to be hitting his peak.
"This win gives me a little bit of momentum knowing that I have the world-class scores that I need and I can shoot the finals in the pressure situations," said Parker. "The trials are going to be tough no matter how you look at it. We have a lot of shooters who are shooting really well here day in and day out."
Parker's win comes on the same range where he won his first World Cup medal in smallbore shooting. A longtime stalwart in air rifle competitions including three berths in the Olympics, Parker has turned his full attention to smallbore shooting the past four years and is using his vast experience to good use with the trials right around the corner.
"I had good preparation for this match," Parker said. "The week before the match I went to the gunsmiths and had a new barrel put on my rifle. I worked a lot with Coach (Tom) Tamas after the London World Cup (in April). We re-did my kneeling position and it reaped huge benefits. Between the preparation with the gunsmiths and our coach and the training time on the line, I was ready for this match."
That wealth of knowledge is sure to be put to good use while competing for the few remaining slots on the U.S. Olympic shooting team. Parker said he can still clearly remember his first Olympic Trials and the ball of nerves that ensued while on the line. After three of these trials, Parker has come up with a simple solution to pre-Trial jitters.
"From my past experiences you realize it's just another match," Parker said. "It's a very important match, but it is just another match. The targets are at the same distance, you are shooting the same as when you are training and you have to remember that while you are competing."
Parker and several members of the USAMU will compete in the Olympic Team Trials for Smallbore at Fort Benning, June 1-12, where the final seven spots on the U.S. Olympic shooting team will be determined.
The USAMU has four Soldiers already headed to London: Sgt. 1st Class Eric Uptagrafft, Men's Rifle Prone; Staff Sgt. Josh Richmond, Double Trap; Sgt. Glenn Eller, Double Trap; and Sgt. Vincent Hancock, Men's Skeet. Sgt. 1st Class Josh Olson has qualified for the Paralympic Games in Air Rifle and Rifle Prone.
Olson is the first active-duty Soldier to ever be nominated to the Paralympics.