Last Sunday was a day of jackets. A green one was handed out to a golfer in Augusta, Ga., and the red, white and blue variety was on full display in Tucson, Ariz., after the USA Shooting Team's performance that included gold, silver, bronze and fourth on day four of the International Shooting Sports Federation (ISSF) World Cup.
Competing in his 18th year of World Cup competition, Jeff Holguin, of Yorba Linda, Calif., had earned five World Cup medals, but until last Sunday he'd never found his way to the top.
That streak, which included 54 international competitions including World Champs, World Cups and the 2008 Olympic Games, came to an end against a brilliant start-to-finish performance that culminated with a duel from a common foe in U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit teammate Josh Richmond, of Hillsgrove.
Holguin finished with a 140 to put him into the event finals, while Richmond would have to win a shoot-off against Britain's Steven Scott just to be among the top six.
Both Army shooters would go 27/30 in the semifinals to set up the All-American grudge match. The gold-medal final would end just like any great duel should, with a shoot-off to determine each American's medal fate. This time though, Holguin would be the one atop the podium after watching his USAMU teammates do so many times before.
"The wind and some odd target presentation made for some tough shooting, but Richmond and I figured it out and didn't let the conditions get to us," Holguin noted about the day's performance. "We're very fortunate to compete against some guys that are good and we push each other. When we're at the top of our games, we're tough to beat."
Richmond picked up the ninth World Cup medal of his career. Like a golfer in the midst of a slump, which came as a result of a disappointing performance in London, he spent much of the 2013 season reconstructing the way he shoots and competes and he showcased the fruits of that labor last Sunday, even if it took him a longer to realize it.
"I didn't have the best day on my qualification rounds," Richmond admitted afterward. "I ended up on a pretty tough field and shot a 25 (Round 3) and thought it took me completely out of it. I was a little unsure of my training, particularly after shooting a 25. I just wasn't able to let it go like I want to. This is the first time I was able to trust some of my new techniques and styles with the high pressure around me."
On competing against his teammate and friend, Richmond added:
"Once we established we were both in the gold-medal round, it was just like another day at the office for us. We went out there much more relaxed, even though we're still trying to win, obviously. But, the important thing is that we had first and second wrapped up and when it comes down to it, that's what is important to us, for the Army, for the country, the USA Shooting Team and all our sponsors. Once we got out there, it was like a grudge match. This is what makes us great when we're able to get in to these types of situations together."
Reigning World Champion Glenn Eller, of Houston, Texas, proved that sometimes it is a matter of how you start and not how you finish, as he missed qualifying for a potential finals berth by one target.
Back-to-back rounds of 26 to begin the match left him scrabbling to find his rhythm over the next three, something he managed to do missing just three more targets over his next 90 shots.
Competing in the extra shooter category, otherwise known as Minimum Qualifying Score (MQS), Derek Haldeman, of USAMU and Sunbury, Ohio, and Ian Rupert, of Muncy, were the top finishers in that division with 138 and 135, respectively.
Haldeman's 138 tied the mark set by Richmond.