Team USA Shotgunners Turn In Double Gold Performances in Olympic Trap Competitions

Team USA’s Amber English and Vincent Hancock recently captured gold in the Women’s and Men’s Skeet competition in Tokyo, Japan.

Team USA Shotgunners Turn In Double Gold Performances in Olympic Trap Competitions

Team USA’s Amber English and Vincent Hancock celebrate their gold medals.

In one of the most memorable days in USA Shooting Olympic history, both Vincent Hancock and Amber English took different approaches in the two days of competition to win Hancock’s third gold medal, having won in 2008 Beijing and 2012 London, and English’s first.

"I've just been so excited to get here, knowing that I'm capable of doing what I just did,” the 32-year-old Hancock said after winning in go away fashion in the finals. “I felt so good throughout this entire competition, so happy that I was able to come out on top again and whether it ended up being a gold medal or just being here, I'm just happy right now.”

With his win in Tokyo, Team USA’s Vincent Hancock has now won a gold medal in three different Olympic games.
With his win in Tokyo, Team USA’s Vincent Hancock has now won a gold medal in three different Olympic games.

Hancock was perfect, hitting all 75 targets in day one of qualifying and started the second day of competition just as hot hitting all 25 targets in the fourth session. Hitting 100 for 100, Hancock was on the verge of tying the world record of 125 set by Italian Valerio Luchini in Beijing in 2019.

But Hancock missed the 111th target in the fifth and final qualifying round, which only dropped him into a tie for first, but then Hancock missed the next target as well, putting him in a more precarious position, but still in the final six, which moves on to the final.

With one target remaining and sitting inside the top six, Hancock missed the last target and fell to 122 and a 6 for 3 shootout.

"I was leading the whole competition, shooting great and then, all of a sudden, the wheels decided to fall off and I thought that I was out,” Hancock said. “I came off the field and I'm like, I'm done. I think it's 1-2-3s that are going to be shooting off for the final and I just, in one round, shot myself out of the entire Olympic Games.”

Hancock’s coaches assured him by telling him 'No, no, you have a shoot-off.

“I was mad at myself for a little while, just working through the process of understanding what went wrong,” Hancock said of making a course correction that involved keeping the rifle stock up versus letting it slip down his body.

After some visualization drills and practice mounts before the shoot-out, Hancock was good to go, and it didn’t take long to reclaim his position in the final needing to hit the first 8 targets to advance.

The temporary blip by Hancock was just a memory once the finals started hitting 59 of 60 targets, missing only the 26th at the fourth position and would win by four points over Jesper Hansen of Denmark (55) and set a new Olympic record of 59 points.

"You learn a lot as you get older and with age comes wisdom,” Hancock said after missing the finals in Rio in 2016 when ranked No. 1. “It's the same thing with experience. For me, I had to get that experience of knowing what it was like to not win to truly understand what it was going to take for me to stay on top, to get back to the top and stay there.”

Amber English celebrates her winning shot.
Amber English celebrates her winning shot.

For English, her road to the finals was more methodical, finishing third with 121 points, three behind the People’s Republic of China’s Meng Wei, who set the Olympic record and equaled the world record with 124 points.

In the first 20 targets, English was the last to miss of the six athletes, and by the time they reached the bronze medal part of the shoot, had missed only two targets, but was in a head-to-head match-up with Italy’s Diana Bacosi, who was leading 29 to English’s 28 points.

But English was up to the task, hitting all 10 targets in the bronze medal segment and then watched as Bacosi missed twice in nine targets and then again two missing two more times during the gold medal match, while English only missed twice more to finish with 56 points to Bacosi’s 55 and set the Olympic record.

"I'm just like twilight zone right now,” The 31-year-old said after competing in her first Olympics. “I'm just so thankful that it's over. One more day of that would have been a lot. I'm very, very happy with the result, and happy I was able to perform." 

(To watch Amber English set her Olympic record, check out the 5-minute video below. Notice how she turns the clay targets into dust.)

Supporting Each Other

Both Hancock and English have known each other for years as Hancock recalled the times, they he would go to English’s house for dinner. 

So, it was no surprise that it was Hancock that helped English come back to shooting after her father’s death in 2016.

"It was definitely challenging. After he passed, it was hard to get back on the range, because it actually reminded me of him.,” English said of her mindset after her father’s death.  “Vinny was the one who got me back out there. I owe him a lot for pushing me to get back out there and shoot."

Hancock had his issues after faltering in Rio and it took self-reflection on his part to come back to competition.

"I've shot really, really well for the last three years with just the mindset of I'm going to enjoy myself, I'm going to be happy, I'm not going to let anything deter me from going out there and doing what I love to do,” Hancock said how he viewed things after Rio.  “In Rio there were a lot of different things going on that I let get to me and I just wasn't in the right frame of mind, coming into here, I knew that I had the chance to do it, I knew that I could do it and I was enjoying every moment I had."

It was the second time in the last three Olympics that the USA has swept skeet, at the 2012 Olympics Kim Rhode won the Women’s skeet competition.

"We have an amazing team,” Hancock said.  “We have a great opportunity to continually capitalize that with our youth and I think that between me and Amber, we have a really good chance to be able to do that and get people involved in the sport in the US and just continuing to watch our program grow."

Like all Team USA shotgunners, English and Hancock were firing Federal Premium Gold Medal Grand shotshells. English's firearm of choice is a Perazzi MX8, while Hancock carries a Beretta DT11.

Will Shaner celebrates his gold medal in men’s 10m air rifle.
Will Shaner celebrates his gold medal in men’s 10m air rifle.

Air Rifle Gold

In other Olympic shooting competition news, Team USA’s Will Shaner (above), who is 20 years old and competing in his first Olympics, earned the gold medal in men’s 10m air rifle. Shaner not only won the competition, but he also set an Olympic record.


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