How USA Shooting is setting its sights on success with newly appointed CEO Matt Suggs
Earlier this month, USA Shooting announced that Matt Suggs has been selected for the role of Chief Executive Officer. Starting his duties on August 1st, Matt will be responsible for implementing USA Shooting's new strategic plan.
Bringing with him an 18-year competitive rifle shooting career, Matt has had multiple National Championships and World Championship wins as well as participation in the National Rifle Association, Civilian Marksmanship Program and USA Shooting programs.
During Matt’s professional shooting career, he exclusively shot ELEY ammunition. He even remembers his favourite match lot (WN659) which he shared at the US Army Marksmanship Unit with world champion Tommy Tamas.
Speaking of the new appointment Matt said “USA Shooting is poised to break out over the next few years as we implement our strategic plan, and I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to apply my business experience to this sport that I’ve loved for over 40 years. I thank the selection committee and the USAS Board of Directors for their confidence and look forward to working with our staff, athletes, members, and supporters to make USA Shooting a world-class NGB.”
As sponsors of US team, we spoke to Matt to find out his vision for the future of USA Shooting as well as how they are preparing ahead of the Tokyo 2020NE Games.
You have been a professional shooting athlete and shot for many years. What is your personal shooting highlight?
I have several memorable performances that mean a lot to me personally. But the 1987 World Airgun Championships was one of the most satisfying. I shot a personal best and won the team gold with Dan Durben and Bob Foth. It was the first team world championship gold for the US since the 1978 World Championships. I finished second after the final with a 10.8 and a 10.9 on my last two shots.
What are you most looking forward to in your new role at USA Shooting?
I’m looking forward to watching our athletes achieve their goals with the assistance of better programs and a stronger organization backing them up. It’s easy to focus on our top national team athletes, but USA Shooting has to be about the junior and club shooters as well.
What is your vision for how USA Shooting will progress and develop over the next few years?
We have created a new strategic plan this spring that is designed to carry us through the 2024 Olympics and beyond. My task is to implement that plan, which consists of three primary components.
1. To remain competitive on the world stage, we must provide our athletes with the coaching and economic backing to sustain them through their competitive career.
2. The United States is unique in its support for shooting sports, and we have many organizations and corporations that we will partner with to grow shooting in the US.
3. We recognize that USA Shooting must improve operationally to support our community of shooters, and we will be applying best practices from my corporate experience to do that.
What three things are important for team USA’s success in upcoming competitions?
1. We have to get back to training. COVID-19 has disrupted our access to key facilities in the US, but those are coming back online now.
2. We have selected a good portion of our Olympic team for Tokyo, and we must take advantage of the postponement to develop our relatively young group of shooters.
3. We must quickly adapt to the proposed changes the ISSF is considering for World Cup participation.
USA Shooting has produced some of the best shooters in the world. Are there any ‘ones to watch’ for the upcoming Tokyo Games?
Clearly we have some athletes the world will be watching like former Olympic Champions Vince Hancock and Ginny Thrasher. Still, Team USA has a track record of producing new names at the Olympics, and I believe that will happen again in Tokyo. I have high expectations for several of our first time Olympians, and the team is already producing scores that will make them very competitive at the games.
How has COVID and the cancellation of the Olympics impacted the sport in the US and how are you going to build momentum ahead of the games?
The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in the shutdown of many institutions connected with American sport. Universities, schools, and clubs were closed for extended periods, including my own shotgun club beginning in March. These closures and the postponement of the Olympics caught us at an awkward time because we had just completed our shotgun and pistol tryouts, but we were in the middle of our Rifle and Paralympic team selections. The board of directors for USA Shooting, which I was serving on at the time, chose to honor those team selections rather than running a new selection next year. We plan to use the delay to season our relatively young team.
With the COVID-19 pandemic affecting competitions in the US, the Smallbore Rifle Olympic Trials Part 2 dates and locations are still under review. More information will be communicated by USA Shooting as soon as possible. The decision hinges on the ability for all eligible athletes to have access to training in preparation for the competition.
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