Kim Rhode is a double trap and skeet shooter who made her debut in the 1996 Olympics where, at the age of 16, she became the youngest female gold medalist in the history of Olympic shooting. Since then she has medaled in the 2000, 2004, 2008 and 2012 Olympics. Earlier this year, Kim took some time to speak with the TRCP about shooting, hunting and her Olympic experiences.
What are some of your earliest experiences with shooting?
Kim: Shooting has been passed down from generation-to-generation in my family. My grandfather was a hounds-man and an avid outdoorsman. He taught my dad, my dad taught my mom and they eventually taught me.
So you were a hunter before you ever tried skeet, trap and sporting clays?
Kim: Oh yes! I was into hunting prior to any competition. I hunted birds, deer, bear; I even went on a hunting trip to Africa. I’ve always been very active in the outdoors. I also love fishing for trout, salmon and steelhead.
Growing up we were very active. Those are some of the best memories of mine. Sitting around the campfire with my grandfathers and uncles telling hunting stories like, ‘the deer was THIS big!’ It was just fantastic. I hope to share my passion for the outdoors with my kids one day.
What was the first gun you ever shot and what are you shooting now?
Kim: Wow, I don’t even remember the first gun I ever shot. I know that when I first started competing I was using a Remington 1100 youth model. Then I went to a Perazzi.
I was so small at the time that I had a hard time getting any type of gas-operated gun to fit me. They were always too big and I was fighting the gun. The fit of your gun is something that’s so important in shooting.
What’s your favorite thing to hunt?
Kim: I have to say some of the bigger game but bird hunting is awesome too. It is super fun and exciting, especially when I get to go out with my family and friends.
I would imagine there aren’t many missed birds…
Kim: Well anyone who says they don’t miss is a liar. Everybody misses; the trick is to not miss when it counts the most.
What are some of your views on conservation?
Kim: Living here in Los Angeles, there are so many people who are completely out of touch with the outdoors. They just don’t go out and appreciate the beauty that’s out there. They spend so much time on the computer or watching television that they totally miss looking around and taking in the beauty and splendor of nature. One issue I see with our youth today is the technology factor, trying to get them off the games and get them outside.
It’s really important that children understand the heritage and the conservation side of things because it goes hand in hand with hunting and the outdoors. Hunting is about tradition and passing something on just as much as it is about land management and conservation.
Can you tell us what it’s like to win a medal at the Olympics?
Kim: It’s really about the journey. It’s not about the gold, the silver, the bronze or anything like that. Of course that is a fantastic part of it but when you’re standing on the podium, watching the American flag go to the top of the pole, you aren’t thinking about the medal. You are thinking about all the experiences that got you there. The journey is what keeps me going back – overcoming obstacles, succeeding when people say you can’t and representing your country. It’s such an honor. I’m so blessed.