The 2012 Summer Olympics in London begin July 27 with shooting events starting the next day and wrapping up August 5th.

One of the original events featured at the first modern Olympic Games in Athens in 1896, the shooting sports have been present in all but the 1904 and 1928 games.

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Sgt. 1st Class Jason Parker is greeted by his youngest son, Wyatt, and wife, Andrea, after clinching his 4th Olympic trip. - photo courtesy of the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit
Parker congratulated by wife and son after his win
Fort Benning, Georgia - Sergeant 1st Class Jason Parker is going back to the Olympics. For the fourth time in twelve years, Parker earned a spot on U.S. Olympic Rifle Team ... this time for the men’s 50-meter rifle three position competition.

“It’s always an honor to represent the Army and your country at the Olympics,” said Parker. "Everybody goes to the Olympics to win a gold medal and I’m no different. That’s the ultimate goal. But my expectations going over there are to compete hard, represent my country well and do my best and train my best leading up to it.”

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Nick Mowrer at firing point one during the 2012 NRA Intercollegiate Pistol Championships

Nick Mowrer, three-time NRA Intercollegiate Pistol champion (who only competed three years), is now an Olympian and will join Team USA at the London Olympics later this summer.

The U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Smallbore were held over three days in Fort Benning, Georgia, at the United States Army Marksmanship Unit's facility. Mowrer entered the last day's 50m Free Pistol finals a single point behind 2008 Olympian Brian Beaman and needed to step up or go home empty handed.

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Kyle is down at Fort Benning in Georgia right now covering the 2012 NRA Collegiate Championships, hosted by the United States Army Marksmanship Unit (USAMU). But other exciting news has just come from the USAMU, making history for both disabled shooting and the Army. At the center of this news is National Matches competitor Sgt. 1st Class Josh Olson, a combat-wounded veteran who will be competing at the Summer Olympic Games in London. Here's what the USAMU has to say about their latest news:

SFC Josh Olson of the USAMU will compete in London this summer
Sgt. 1st Class Josh Olson of the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit is the first Active Duty Soldier nominated to the U.S. Paralympic Team. (Photo by Michael Molinaro, USAMU PAO)

FORT BENNING, Georgia — The U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit is proud to announce its historic expansion with the creation of a Marksmanship Instructor Group and Paralympic Section, the first-ever Army units designed specifically for wounded warriors deemed able to continue to serve on active duty. Approved by the Army this week, this historic first is part of the Army Chief of Staff’s initiative supporting Wounded Warriors.

For these Soldiers, serving in the USAMU will involve raising Army combat readiness by providing the absolute best shooting instruction for all Army units. They will also showcase the Army by competing at a world-class level in national and international competition as part of the USAMU's efforts to connect the Army to the nation's citizens. Sgt. 1st Class Josh Olson, Operation Iraqi Freedom combat-wounded veteran and USAMU Paralympian, is the first Active Duty Soldier to be nominated to the U.S. Paralympic Team and will compete in London this summer.

This ground-breaking approach inspires wounded combat veterans to remain on active duty, enhances combat readiness, and highlights ability rather than disability. "Despite their injuries, these Soldiers are stronger for serving and continuing to serve; now they will make the Army even stronger,” said Lt. Col. Daniel Hodne, commander, USAMU.

Congratulations to SFC Olson and to all of our friends at the USAMU. We look forward seeing how this will revolutionize the shooting sports and increase opportunities for both combat-wounded and disabled shooters.

NRA Coach Programs Last month, Assistant National Coach Trainer Samantha Olsen traveled to Colorado to for the 2011 Coaches Conference. While there, Olsen conducted National Coach Development Staff (NCDS) Training for three candidates who then went on to teach other Coach Schools, training eight more people to become NRA Certified Coaches. Here's a quick report from Olsen on the training:

The 2011 Coaches Conference was held November 12-20 in Colorado Springs, Colorado at the Olympic Training Center. The week started off with the National Coach Development Staff (NCDS) training. After completion of the NCDS training, candidates went on to teach the Level 1 Shotgun, Pistol and Rifle Coach School. The National Rifle Association’s Coach Education Program would like to thank Delbert Richardson, the General Manager at Pikes Peak Gun Club in Colorado Springs, Colorado for allowing the Shotgun Level 1 Coach School to use their facility to conduct the practical range exercises.

For more information on the NRA Coach Education Program, check out their website or contact Samantha Olsen at solsen@nrahq.org. Many NRA Coach Schools are held each year, and one may be in your area!

A junior PPP competitor

Kids have busy schedules these days. Between school, time with family, and all of their extracurricular activities, traveling around the country to shoot in competitions can become a difficult task. Add in the pressure of preparing for a national-level competition, and young competitors have the odds stacked against them. But thanks to NRA's Competitive Shooting Division and USA Shooting, young Progressive Position Pistol (PPP) shooters now have a way to get in the practice and competition experience necessary to meet the challenge of national competition.

As NRA's Air Gun Program Coordinator Jessi McClain tells us, NRA and USA Shooting have solved this problem by developing the Progressive Position Pistol (PPP) National Postal Program. Most PPP clubs are too far apart to compete shoulder to shoulder on a regular basis, so to solve this problem, a postal competition program was created to give junior athletes an opportunity to participate in a postal competition three times per year (Fall, Winter and Spring), leading up to the Junior Olympic PPP Nationals. This program is designed to provide competitive experience and test skills practiced in between postal matches in preparation for the Nationals.

"Just like other postal matches, competitors shoot the required course of fire at their local range and send in their scores or targets to Shooter's Technology," said McClain, adding that there is a high-tech twist to these postal competitions.

She explained that many PPP clubs use the electronic Orion Air Pistol scoring system, so scores fired on the Orion system will be sent as data files to Shooter's Technology, a company that will compile the results. Clubs that do not use the Orion system will mail their targets to Shooter's Technology to be scored. Clubs may shoot the course of fire anytime before the postmark date for each match. All targets will be scored and scores will be posted one week after the postmark due date. Due dates for each postal are:

Fall Postal –postmark due date December 18, 2011

Winter Postal – postmark due date March 4, 2012

Spring Postal – postmark due date May 6, 2012

To learn more about the PPP National Postal Program including rules, course of fire, registration information and more, take a look at the online program. For questions, contact McClain at jmmclain@nrahq.org.

Thanks to Wendy LaFever, Managing Editor of NRA InSights, for this update on Olympic skeet shooter Kim Rhode:

Olympic Skeet Shooter Kim Rhode on NRAblog
Photo courtesy of USA Shooting.
You may know that ever since she started shooting, four-time Olympic medalist Kim Rhode has been breaking down barriers just as surely as she smashes clays. She recently earned the right to compete at the London Olympic Games in 2012. Should she medal again, she will be the first USA Olympian from any individual sport to ever win five consecutive Olympic medals in five straight Olympic Games.

Rhode’s also made significant inroads in proving to the mainstream press that shooters deserve to be treated as the athletes they are. She was just featured late last week by the Associated Press in an article and video that was sent to scores of their news clients including the New York Times (previously not famous for its friendly treatment of shooters), USAToday.com, sportsillustrated.com, yahoo.com, the Washington Examiner and scores of other publications both inside the U.S. and abroad.

Despite the ongoing pressure of training and preparation, Rhode has never forgotten how she got her start in shooting, and is committed to help inspire the next generation of shooters. Several of her articles have appeared in NRA InSights, NRA’s publication for Junior members, and Rhode stopped by our booth at the NRA Annual Meetings and Exhibits to offer a little advice.

Good luck in London, Kim! As we get closer to the 2012 Summer Olympic Games, NRAblog will be providing more coverage of the Olympic shooters competing in London, so stay tuned.

Marcus Raab, the NRA National Coach Trainer for both Rifle and Pistol, has been named as a new Assistant National Rifle Coach by USA Shooting, the National governing body for Olympic Shooting Sports. Raab, who is well-know in the shooting community as top-notch coach dedicated to helping junior shooters achieve their goals, has been with NRA since 2000. Here's what USA Shooting had to say about Raab and his fellow Assisant National Coaches: 

USA Shooting Announces Assistant National Coaches

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - USA Shooting is pleased to announce the new Assistant National Coaches. The Assistant National Coaches work alongside the National Coaches to help develop junior talent, support National Team members and promote the shooting sports.

USA Shooting logo The Assistant National Rifle Coaches are Marcus Raab, Thomas Tamas and Ernie Vande Zande. Raab, the National Coach Training for Rifle and Pistol for the National Rifle Association, has been a key developer and instructor in the National Coach Development Staff program that has led to a tremendous increase in coaching knowledge and skills from the grass roots level on up. Raab also has a long competitive background in multiple events and training education from around the world. Raab, a regular contributor for USA Shooting News, is very focused on the next generation of Olympic Champions. National Rifle Coach Major Dave Johnson credits Raab for much of the junior team’s success over several years, which culminated in the 2010 gold medal World Championship performance by the junior women’s smallbore team.

Congratulations, Marcus! Read the complete USA Shooting's press release here.

Dr. Georg Plenikowski, Dieter Anschutz and Kayne Robinson from the NRA

A special thanks to Dr. Georg Plenikowski, President of Nammo, for sharing this picture with NRAblog. From left to right: Plenikowski, NRA Executive Director of General Operations Kayne Robinson, Deputy Executive Director Andrea Cerwinske, NRA President Ron Schmeits, and  ANSCHÜTZ's Dieter Anschütz.

Plenikowski and Anschütz met with NRA executives, talking about the firearms industry and competitive shooting.

"The NRA has many great friends around the world, including Anschütz," Robinson said. "They are a true leader of the industry."

"What a gentleman," Schmeits said of Anschütz, noting the Anschütz Rifle won 9 of the 10 Olympic events. "His production of the Anschütz Rifle is superior... A gun equally impressive as he is."

Here's a little more about ANSCHÜTZ, per their website:

Since its foundation, ANSCHÜTZ stands for innovation and perfection. This has not changed through the years. The name ANSCHÜTZ is inseparably connected with innumerable national and international shooting triumphs. Last but not least the pioneering efforts in biathlon shooting have made the name ANSCHÜTZ recognized all over the world. ANSCHÜTZ products enjoy an extraordinary and worldwide reputation because of their precision, workmanship and accuracy. This is what president Jochen Anschütz – continuing the tradition – puts as a benchmark for the future, to ensure that the long history of ANSCHÜTZ continues to give good memories far into the future.

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