Kim Rhode of El Monte, Calif., is one of the world’s greatest competitive shotgun athletes, a mother and has loved fishing, hunting and being outdoors ever since she was young.
Rhode is the first United States Olympian competing in an individual sport to win five medals in five consecutive Olympic Games. She won Olympic gold in double trap (1996, 2004) and skeet (2012), silver in skeet (2008) and bronze in double trap (2000).
Rhode has dozens of national and international medals and won the 2014 World Cup in Kazakhstan. She kicked off the 2015 season in fine form in Acapulco, Mexico, by winning the International Shooting Sport Federation World Cup Series season opener. According to USA Shooting, she has competed in four World Cups since the 2012 London Olympics gold and birth of her son and has won three of those Cup events.
According to Team USA, Rhode was selected as Team USA’s flag bearer for the Opening Ceremony of the XVII Pan American Games. The games opened July 10, 2015, in Toronto. The United States Olympic Committee that Rhode was chosen by a vote of fellow Team USA members. Rhode celebrated a birthday on July 16, too, with her teammates.
On the Pan Am stage, Rhode has earned three gold medals (2003 – double trap, 2011 – skeet, 2015 – skeet) and one silver (2007 – skeet). She won another gold medal in Toronto, where she is Team USA’s sole women’s skeet competitor. Rhode is the second shooter to serve as flag bearer for Team USA at the Pan American Games. Lones Wigger also carried the flag in 1975. Wigger earned 18 medals over the course of six Pan American Games.
Rhode’s latest gold medal came in the Pan American Games skeet competition on Saturday, July 18, when she tied a record. Rhode broke 74 of 75 clay targets In the qualification rounds, tying the world record and setting a Pan Am record. Then, in the final match against Argentina’s Melisa Gil, Rhode broke 15 of 16 targets to win the gold.
The 2015 Pan American Games are July 10-26 in Toronto, and for the first time, feature all 28 sports on the Olympic program. The 17-day competition will feature more than 6,000 athletes from all 41 member nations of the Pan American Sports Organization competing in 37 sports, making it the largest multi-sport event ever held in Canada.
Rhode gave this “I’m a Deer Hunter” interview that originally appeared in the September 2014 issue of Deer & Deer Hunting:
Sounds like you enjoy hunting and the outdoors about as much as shooting. Is that a fair assessment?
“I’m very much an avid outdoors enthusiast. It’s something that was a tradition passed down in our family from generation to generation. My grandfather was a trapper and hunter, he taught my dad, and they taught me. Everything that had a season, we were all about it. My first memories of hunting are of dove hunting in Yuma (Arizona) with my parents.
“I love deer hunting, too. Three months after I was born, I was taken on a deer hunting trip, and my dad got one. Deer hunting was something we did as a family, and it was very much a family thing. I remember growing up in the camper and my grandmother making jelly; dad and grandfather and us cooking over the campfire.”
Is there anything specific you prefer?
“All and everything, to be honest, but I definitely like bigger game like deer. We’ve been deer hunting, big-game hunting, on safari in Africa, etc. I shoot shotguns every day, so I like a little variety. As far as the hunt, it’s just about getting into the outdoors and enjoying it with friends and family. How do you pick one, y’know?”
How did you get into competitive shooting?
“I’ve been shooting for 24 years, starting when I was about 10 years old. The family would be getting ready for our hunting trips at the local range, practicing, my parents teaching me, and it kind of grew from there. Someone suggested a club shoot and state shoot, and thankfully my parents nurtured that and saw the ability, and encouraged me to be a better shooter. That’s how it grew. The rest is history. It all started through hunting and progressed.”
You switched from international skeet to international doubles trap, which was quite a leap.
“It was one of the most difficult things in my career, bar none. It was one of the most challenging and difficult. It would be like a backstroke swimmer going to diving, and the only common thing is the water. I had to learn a new technique, a whole new gun, and a new setup from low to mounted gun. When you’re winning and doing well, it’s fun, but when have to start over at the bottom and work up to where you’re winning again, it’s a chal- lenge mentally and physically. I was very determined and thank- ful that I had the opportunity and great coaches. But it was not easy.
“Plus, you’re going from a sport where grew up knowing everyone to a sport where others have been doing it for 20 years. You’re meeting new people, traveling, and they have 20 years experience. I’m really proud I didn’t give up. The thought of quitting … I’d be lying if it didn’t cross my mind, but that’s what the Olympics are all about — perseverance and working through it.”
What’s going through your mind on the medal podium?
“It’s funny because everyone says ‘You’re the best’ or “No. 1′, and you don’t think of yourself that way because you love what you’re doing. When I’m standing there, I’m not thinking, ‘I’m No. 1.’ That has never crossed my mind standing there.