Simply put, a quota place is a country’s ticket to the Olympics.
To be eligible to compete in the Olympic Games, each athlete needs to have an Olympic quota place and have obtained a Minimum Qualification Score (MQS) during the set timeframe.
In March 2018, the ISSF posted the list (updated June 15, 2018) of available quota places and MQS scores needed to compete in the Olympic Games. The MQS for Men’s Trap is 112, Men’s Skeet is 114, and Women’s Trap and Skeet are both 92. This is out of a possible 125. The qualification period for MQS started July 24, 2018; exactly two years from the start of the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. So, if you’re a male skeet shooter, that means you need to shoot at least a 114 in any ISSF or Continental Championship, or in a specially designated competition with MQS status, at least once during the time frame in order to be eligible to compete in Tokyo. The MQS period ends April 30, 2020.
Given the limited number of slots available for shooting sports at the Olympics, the qualification system is based on quota places. From the ISSF:
Participation in the Olympic Shooting events is not guaranteed. Each national shooting federation must earn “Quota Places” – one starting position to send athletes to the next Olympic Games. Only a total of 360 athletes will be able to compete in the 15 events across the Olympic disciplines at the Games.
Quota Places are generally awarded when an athlete wins a gold medal at the ISSF World Cups or posts a top finish at the ISSF World Championships or Continental Championships Africa, America, Asia, Europe, Oceania – in the years before the Olympic Games.
A Quota Place guarantees that someone from a given country – not necessarily the athlete who earned it – will be competing in that Olympic event. Each nation can earn a maximum of 30 Quota Places: two each in all events.
For the host country of the Olympics, there are reserved 9 Quota Places, one each in 50m Rifle Prone Men, 25m Rapid Fire Pistol Men, 10m Air Pistol Men, Trap Men, Skeet Men, 10m Air Rifle Women, 10m Air Pistol Women, Trap Women and Skeet Women event.
In addition to the quota places earned by athletes and the host country reservation, there are also 3 more quota places up for grabs. The Tripartite Commission gives out two quota places per event and there is a World Ranking quota place given out. So, what does this all mean for the United States shotgun team?
For our trap shooters, there’s a total of 16 quota places up for grabs by each gender; 4 at the World Championships, and 2 at each of the four 2019 World Cups, The CAT Games, and the PanAm Games. For our skeet shooters, that number is 15; the same as trap, except the CAT Games, where they only get 1. Mixed Team Trap’s only opportunity to win a quota is at the World Championships, where 4 quota places are available.
Each country (NOC) can only win a maximum of 2 quota places per event. Let’s say that Vinny and Frank win Gold and Silver at the World Championships…that means the United States will have received its maximum number of quota places for the 2020 Summer Olympic Games in men’s skeet. That doesn’t mean that Vinny and Frank are guaranteed a trip to Tokyo; they’ll still have to earn their spot in the Olympic Trials. It just means that the United States is guaranteed to send two men’s skeet shooters to Tokyo. If any US male skeet shooter then goes on to win Gold or Silver in one of the 2019 World Cups, the US will not get any more quota places. That quota will go to the next person in line, provided they haven’t already won a quota place.
The quota system can be a bit confusing, but I hope this article explains just what’s going on and how our shooters are working to make it to Tokyo.