Winter is in the Air with USA Shooting’s Winter Airgun Championship.

USA Shooting’s annual air show is upon us and this year promises to set the precedent. The Winter Airgun Championship (WAG) takes place starting Friday, December 2 as the U.S. Olympic Complex in Colorado Springs, Colorado gets immersed in a shooting spectacular featuring over 375 competitors.

The growth of the Winter Airgun Championship has been an on-going success story for USA Shooting in recent years. 2016 will be no different! Action is taking place at the USA Shooting range on complex, as well as temporary ranges inside different U.S. Olympic Training Center facilities.

For the first time, a dedicated Finals Hall will be a part of the show, meaning a shortened match schedule and a much better competition flow for all participants.

The competition includes three separate match days in Men’s and Women’s Air Rifle and Air Pistol, to include junior competition as well. Awards will be given upon the conclusion of each match day. The Winter Airgun Championship is part one of Junior World Team Selections as well as an evaluation of possible candidates to compete in the first International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) World Cup match in India next year.

Today we preview the Air Rifle competition that will include three Olympians and a lot of surrounding talent around them. Check back Wednesday for the full Air Pistol preview.

The biggest spotlight will be on Olympic gold medalist and 2016 USA Shooting Athlete of the Year Ginny Thrasher (Springfield, Virginia). As the first U.S. athlete to win an air rifle medal since 2000, she’s proven she can handle the attention! Ginny also won a bronze medal during the World Cup Final in Bologna, Italy in October and topped 599/600 twice in collegiate matches twice this fall for West Virginia University.

In 2015, she finished sixth overall at the Winter Airgun Championship before her year for the ages began as she accumulated three NCAA titles (two individual, one team), an Olympic Team appointment, her first U.S. title and, of course, earning the first Olympic gold medal in Rio.

The Winter Airgun Championship (WAG) takes place starting Friday, December 2 as the U.S. Olympic Complex in Colorado Springs, Colorado

Her Olympic teammates Lucas Kozeniesky (Fairfax, Virginia) and Dan Lowe (Olympia, Washington) will also be in attendance at the Winter Airgun Championship.

Kozeniesky, a senior at North Carolina State, was second at this match a year ago. That result that helped springboard him onto the Olympic Team.  He’s proven that his selection was no fluke having earned a national title this summer followed by a 599/600 in a collegiate match earlier this season.

After a 34th-place finish in Rio, Lowe finished second recently at the Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP) Dixie Double Match.

Pushing Thrasher on the women’s side will be collegiate rifle standouts Mindy Miles (Weatherford, Texas) and Sagen Maddalena (Groveland, California).

A junior at Texas Christian University, Miles is the lone athlete to shoot a 599 twice in NCAA rifle competition thus far on the year. She was second to Thrasher at Nationals.

Maddalena has recorded 598 twice this fall and was second during Olympic Trials.  Also, look for Sarah Beard (Danville, Indiana) to try and defend her back-to-back overall victories in this event.

Dempster Christenson, Bryant Wallizer and Ivan Roe are all strong contenders on the men’s side of the Winter Airgun Championship.

Christenson (Sioux Falls, South Dakota) was the overall winner at the recent Dixie Double and was third during Olympic Trials.

Wallizer (Little Orleans, Maryland) is a consistent top finisher as showcased by his third-place result at Nationals.

Murray State junior Roe (Manhattan, Montana) has demonstrated he can shoot the scores he’ll need to contend after finishing third here last year, leading to a fourth-place finish at Olympic Team Trials and being crowned Junior National Champion earlier this summer.

Here’s the 2016 Winter Airgun Championship Schedule.Winter is in the Air with USA Shooting’s Winter Airgun ChampionshipLive targets can be found here starting Friday morning: Tune into and/or follow all the USA Shooting social media channels for event news, notes, results and photos.