Dustin Goes Dust'n On Way to First Career World Cup Medal to Conclude World Cup USA
Editor's Note: Today's feature comes to us courtesy of Kevin Neuendorf of USA Shooting.
When you are USA Shooting and you have arguably one of the best shotgun programs in the world, success is expected. When it happens for the first time to someone new, it gives way to a flood of emotion that is raw and uplifting. Such was the case in Tucson, Arizona, Monday afternoon with Dustin Perry earning his first career World Cup medal to close out competition at the opening shotgun event of the 2014 International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) World Cup season.
Perry (Lovelady, Texas) didn't just earn a bronze medal, he equaled a qualifying World Record in the process and was just a few targets away from breaking the world record and earning a perfect mark. The quest for perfection ended on Station 4, however, after missing on a single from the low house midway through his fifth & final round of qualification. The miss caused an uncharacteristic reaction from Perry immediately afterward before he composed himself enough to finish without another miss.
"I felt like the pitcher in baseball who blows the perfect game in the bottom of the ninth," Perry said. It took me a second to regroup, but I got it back together and finish it out."
Bronze nearly could have been silver or gold as well as he was forced to enter a shoot-off for the gold-medal match after shooting a 15/16 in the semifinal. With four of the six competitors tying that mark, it would create a shoot-off to determine who would go up against top semifinal qualifier Steffan Nilsson of Sweden. Perry was unsuccessful in that bid after dropping out following a miss on his fourth target.
Still, the result was impressive far beyond earning his first World Cup medal in his first international final. Before today, just three other Americans had earned a podium finish in World Cup action since 2005. Two-time Olympic gold medalist Vincent Hancock has won nine of those during that span, while Perry joins Jon McGrath and Sean Mclelland as the only other Americans to earn a World Cup medal over the last eight years.
"It's a great honor and dream come true," Perry admitted. "This comes as a result of me and my Dad out on the range pounding shells down trying to get ready and preparing myself for this moment. I learned how to handle pressure a little bit, but still want to work on that some more."
For local product Luis "Taz" Gloria, he'd end up one target short of the same opportunity after finishing with a 121 in only his second World Cup event. Taz would finish his event the same way it began with a crowd-pleasing 25 straight to cap off a busy week. Medal or no medal, Taz, with every interview, handshake and conversation that came about this event was perceived by him as an opportunity to tell his story, delight his followers and become a local shooting sports ambassador for a city which has a hard time recognizing the hidden gem they have in the Tucson Trap & Skeet Club. Sometimes in our sport, there are those hidden medals and no doubt he stood atop that category this week.
"My performance did not turn out as good as I was expecting it to go, but I accept everything that came my way. Every time I pull the trigger, I learn something new and this will only help me get to where I want to go."
Having the opportunity to compete at a world-class facility such as TTSC isn't easily lost on Taz. "Being able to train here and claim it as my home range is absolutely amazing. The people are outstanding and they're always backing me. They've given me everything I could have dreamed of and I couldn't think about being anywhere else."
Olympian Frank Thompson (Alliance, Neb.) couldn't manage the same type of magic he did back in 2012 when he qualified for the Olympic Games in a dramatic conclusion that day at the Tucson Trap & Skeet Club. He would connect on 115 targets and finish in 44th-place. Hayden Stewart (Columbus, Tenn.) competing as a Minimum Qualifying Score (MQS) competitor finished with a score of 119.
Overall, the USA Shooting team had 10 top-11 finishers and earned four medals with one gold, one silver and two bronze along with a fourth-place finish. The four medals topped all nations. Jeff Holguin (USAMU, Yorba Linda, Calif.) earned a gold in Double Trap while his Army teammate Josh Richmond (USAMU/Hillsgrove, Pa.) would finish next to him on the podium. Kim Rhode (El Monte, Calif.) proved she hasn't lost anything despite an absence brought on by the birth of her son, Carter, as she finished with a bronze medal while tying for top qualifying score. Finishing just behind Rhode after a shoot-out in the bronze-medal match was Brandy Drozd (Bryan, Texas).
Special thanks to the Tucson Trap & Skeet Club for hosting a world-class event in a first-class manner along with Visit Tucson who provided hospitality beyond compare for the nearly 300 international competitors from 44 nations.
Up next, the ISSF World Cup for the world's best shotgun competitors moves to Kazakhstan, May 16-25.
For complete results of the 2014 ISSF World Cup in Tucson, click here