Shooting events don’t get all the glory at the Summer Olympic Games — not the way mainstream sports like swimming, track, and gymnastics do. But if you watched the 2020 games in Tokyo, you know that shooting events are plenty of fun to watch. And the United States always dominates Olympic shooting. The U.S. has earned 116 medals since shooting first entered the modern Olympic games in 1896. China comes in at a distant second place with 67 total medals, 26 of them golds.
USA Shooting athletes brought home six medals from Tokyo in 2020, giving the home crowd plenty to cheer about. Want to know what the star members of Team USA are up to now?
We tracked down their latest stats to see if we’ll have a chance to cheer them on again at the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.
Olympic Shooting Overview
There were 300 shooting athletes who competed in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, which ran from July 23 through Aug. 8, 2021. (If you’re confused about the dates, the 2020 Summer Olympics were postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.)
There were 15 shooting events in the program across three shooting disciplines — pistol, rifle, and shotgun. Three mixed-gender team events also debuted at the 2020 Olympic Games.
Air Pistol Events
Air pistol events take place indoors — in 2020, they were held at the Asaka Shooting Range. Competitors shoot from a standing position with one unsupported hand using smallbore, .22-caliber pistols to fire pellets at stationary targets at set distances in three events: 10-meter, 25-meter, and 25-meter rapid fire.
The targets consist of concentric rings. Points are scored according to where the projectile punches the target. Shots closer to the center of the target score more points.
Each event begins with a qualification phase. The highest-scoring athletes advance to the finals to compete for gold, silver, and bronze medals in an elimination-style format. Qualification scores do not carry over into the finals.
US Olympic Shooting Competitors to Watch
Alexis “Lexi” Lagan was a relative newcomer to competitive shooting sports in 2020, but she still managed to set the pistol range on fire.
Lagan took up shooting while pursuing a bachelor’s degree in physics at the University of Utah. After winning several collegiate national titles, Lagan secured the Olympic alternate seat in women’s air pistol in 2016.
Although she narrowly missed a spot on Team USA in Rio in 2016, Lagan solidly secured her place in Tokyo with a record-setting score at the Championship of the Americas.
Lagan failed to medal in Tokyo, placing 38th in qualification with a score of 560, but she’s worn plenty of gold since the Games. At the 2022 Pistol National Championships, Lagan earned the top spot in the 25m Rapid Fire Pistol and 10m Air Pistol. She also helped her team win gold at the 10m Air Pistol Women’s Team event at the 2022 ISSF Championship of the Americas.
Nick Mowrer, a sergeant in the US Army Reserve, returned to Olympic competition in Tokyo after missing Rio 2016. Mowrer competed in the 10-meter air pistol in the 2012 Olympics in London, where he placed 15th.
An accomplished rifle shooter, Mowrer is the only American to stand on the World Cup podium in both pistol and rifle events. He also represented Team USA in the 50-meter three-position rifle event, making history as the first US athlete to compete in both disciplines at the Olympic Games.
Although Mowrer missed the podium in Tokyo, placing 13th in the qualification round with a score of 576 in air pistol, he has done some serious flexing on the competition stage since the Games. He was a silver medalist in Men’s Team smallbore at the 2021 ISSF World Cup in New Delhi. He also took silver in Men’s 10m Air Pistol and bronze in Men’s 25m Rapid Fire Pistol at the 2022 Pistol National Championships. Mowrer also brought home two silver medals at the 2022 Championships of the Americas.
There were two rifle events in the 202 games: 10-meter air rifle and 50-meter three-position. Rifle competitions also took place indoors at the Asaka Shooting Range.
In the 10-meter air rifle events, competitors shoot a 0.177-caliber projectile from a standing position. Target are stationary and set at 10 meters. Shooters reloaded after each shot.
In the three-position events, athletes shoot .22 LR rimfire rifles at stationary bull’s-eye targets set at 50 meters. Each competitor is required to fire 40 shots each from the kneeling, prone, and standing positions for a total of 120 shots. As in the air pistol events, all rifle events consist of a qualification phase and an elimination-style final round.
US Olympic Shooting Competitors to Watch
Mary Tucker was only a sophomore at the University of Kentucky majoring in equine science when she left for the Tokyo Olympics. Before the Games, Tucker helped the UK Wildcats earn their third NCAA Rifle Championship, where the team posted a record-breaking score.
In April 2021, Tucker earned gold in the International Shooting Sport Federation women’s air rifle 10-meter competition.
She was also named the Collegiate Rifle Coaches Association athlete of the year two years in a row. Tucker represented Team USA in both the 10-meter air rifle and three-position events. Heading into the Games, she was the top-ranked air rifle athlete in the world.
Although Tucker failed to bring home the gold from Tokyo in the Women’s 10-Meter Air Rifle, she earned a silver with her teammate Lucas Kozeniesky in the Mixed Team Air Rifle event.
Tucker has also earned plenty of shooting bling since the Games. Her most recent shooting successes include gold medals in the Women’s 50m Rifle 3 Position and the Women’s 10m Air Rifle Team events at the 2022 Confederation of the Americas Championships (aka the CAT Games). She also took gold in the Women’s 10m Air Rifle at the 2022 Winter Air Gun Championships held in Camp Perry, Ohio.
Lucas Kozeniesky, who placed 21st in the men’s 10-meter air rifle event in Rio 2016, returned to the Olympic stage in Tokyo. Kozeniesky has earned several national championship titles and was a silver medalist in the 2018 Continental American Championships 10-meter air rifle event. In Tokyo, he participated in both 10-meter air rifle and three-position events.
Kozeniesky earned a silver medal in the Mixed Team Air Rifle event with his teammate Mary Tucker.
He’s also been racking up on medals since leaving Tokyo, taking gold in the 10m Air Rifle Men’s Team, 10m Air Rifle Mixed Team, and 50m Rifle 3 Position Men’s Team events at the 2022 Championships of the Americas. Kozeniesky also earned the silver medal in Men’s 10m Air Rifle at the 2022 ISSF World Cup in Changwon, South Korea.
William Shaner got his start in shooting sports at 9 years old in a small 4-H program in Rifle, Colorado. From those humble beginnings, he went on to bring home the gold for Team USA in the men’s 10-Meter Air Rifle at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.
Since the Games, Shaner has also earned air rifle gold medals from the 2021 ISSF World Cup competitions in both Croatia and New Delhi.
The Olympic shotgun events were held outdoors in Tokyo, where athletes engaged multiple clay targets, also called “clay pigeons,” with modern scatterguns.
The trap divisions require athletes to shoot single targets at five separate locations. Clay targets are launched from a bunker in front of the shooter. Athletes are allowed two shots for each target.
The top six athletes from the qualification round advanced to the final match. Medals were determined by elimination, with the lowest-scoring athlete removed after each round until a winner was determined. During the final match, athletes were allowed only one shot per target.
Athletes competing in the skeet divisions shot from eight stations. At each station, targets were thrown from two towers located on each side of the shooter. Athletes could only attempt one shot on each target.
During the qualification round, each shooter attempted 125 targets, which were divided into five 25-target rounds. The top six competitors advanced to the final match, which consisted of up to 60 targets. The lowest-scoring athletes were eliminated after each round until the medal winners were determined.
US Olympic Shooting Competitors to Watch
Vincent Hancock, who hails from Eatonton, Georgia, was poised to dominate the Olympic skeet field. Hancock headed to Tokyo as a four-time Olympian. He brought home the gold in 2008 and 2012, earning a near-perfect score in the final in London. Hancock dominated the skeet field in Tokyo and brought home gold for Team USA.
In addition to his glowing Olympic resume, Hancock is a former sergeant in the US Army Marksmanship Unit, in which he earned the National Defense Service Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Army Service Ribbon, and the Distinguished International Shooter Badge.
Since the Tokyo Games, Hancock has been busting plenty of clays, earning three gold medals at the 2022 Baku World Cup, two silver medals at the 2022 World Championship, and a bronze medal at the 2022 ISSF Presidents World Cup.
Amber English, a first lieutenant with the Air Force World Class Athlete Program, made her Olympic debut in Tokyo. Although Tokyo 2020 was her first Olympics, English entered the competition as a highly accomplished shotgun shooter.
As a competitive shooter since 2006, English has had four World Cup medals under her belt (2010, 2016, 2018, and 2019). She added an Olympic gold medal to her resume after she earned top scores in Women’s Skeet in Tokyo.
Since Tokyo, English has won gold medals in the mixed team competition at the 2021 World Cup and the 3-Woman Skeet Team event at the 2022 World Cup, both in Lonato, Italy.