Skip to main content

Hot Shot: Interview with Olympic Shooter Kim Rhode


Kim Rhode has become an American Olympic staple. Among her most significant accomplishments, she has won Olympic gold three times (1996, 2004 and 2012), silver (2008) and a bronze medal (2000). In 2012, she set out to do something no other Olympic athlete has ever done: medal in five consecutive Olympic games, and in doing so, is helping to bring the shooting sports to the forefront of worldwide attention.

Eric R. Poole was able to snag an exclusive interview with Rhode, who on Sunday shot an Olympic record 99/100 in women's skeet shooting to clinch her third gold medal.

Kim-Rhode_002What did it feel like to hold your first Olympic medal?

I ended up putting the medal in the sock drawer because I didn't know what to do with it. I had to take it everywhere.

What's it like to be an Olympic champion representing the United States?

When I won my first medal at the 1996 Olympics, I didn't realize what I had achieved. I knew what I had worked for, but I didn't understand how it would affect other people's lives. Once, when I gave a speech to 400 women at a college, afterward a woman diagnosed with cancer came up to me and said that she knew she could win. I almost cried. You don't realize what it means to others until you experience it. When you're a young kid, it was just a competition, a match. When you represent your country, I find that it impacts you differently.

How did you first get into shooting?

I don't remember the first time I ever shot a gun, but I was very little — and very, very small. I can remember sitting on a lawn chair and dad helping me to hold the gun and take down the recoil. And I remember my first limit of doves. I started competing at 10 years old. A lot of people don't realize that I started in the junior NRA programs shooting smallbore .22, but I eventually took up shooting a shotgun. I was maybe 12 or 13 when I first earned a spot by shooting bunker trap out at Prado. I won the match and earned the right to go to the Junior Olympic Training Program. Then I got a call that I was ineligible because of my age. I was very upset and decided that I was going to do this. I went to the American Championship for American Skeet, and Lloyd Woodhouse — the Olympic coach — was there. He saw me compete, and I won the World title. He said, "We'll make an exception if your mother comes with you." It was from there that I was introduced to the International styles.

Do you practice with the same load you shoot with?

Yes, I use the same Winchester International load. I used to shoot a special reload using all Winchester components and went into shooting the International load that they now produce. It has the most developed shells Winchester has ever made.

How often do you practice?


Up until recently, I've been shooting every single day, seven days a week. I would average anywhere between 500 and 1,000 rounds a day.

Do you have any unusual superstitions?

I don't know if it's really a superstition, but I'm not really big into changing something when everything seems to be working. I won't shoot in a collared shirt because I can't get the mount into the same spot. I do the same thing, over and over again. The routine helps to set myself up for each target. That's really what this game is about — being a machine while taking in the conditions around you.

Do you have any rituals ahead of a competition?

About the only thing I'll do on the morning of a competition is that I'll turn on the cold water for a shower to wake myself up. I've been doing this since I was a little kid. We do so much traveling and competing overseas that when there's a time change I'm usually competing when I'd otherwise be asleep.

Have you ever had an issue while transporting your guns internationally?

The Olympic committee handles transport of guns, so I don't usually see the problems that come from that. I have had my gun stolen prior to a match. That was 2008. There was a lot of media attention on it. It was the night before the selection process for the Olympic team. We never caught the people who actually stole it. A bunch of people were really kind and ended up replacing that gun. So that's the gun I actually shoot now.

What's the best piece of advice you've ever received?

Choose your friends wisely. I think that's a great one. You want people around you that will build you up and help you through thick and thin. Those who you consider your true friends. I can truly say that I have amazing friends and family. When I'm gone for three months, I can come home and pick up where I left off. When you're down, those people know what to say, and when you're up they know what you need to hear.

Kim-Rhode_003Could that also apply to you professionally?

There's definitely loyalty involved. Even when I finished second or third place, Winchester was still there for me. If your word and handshake are not worth anything, money won't make up for it. People will switch brand loyalty because for them it's all about the money. It doesn't mean that the company produces a great product, and that's why I don't put my name with everything.

What do you say to women who want to take up sport shooting?

No two Olympic sports are the same. Some are about muscles, and some are about speed. Some are about reaction time, and some are about hand and eye coordination. In shooting it's about adjusting to the situation. It becomes a game of intellect. It's one of the few sports that men and women can compete on the same field, on equal footing.

What do you think about before a competition?

There's always a winner and someone who doesn't win.

What's your favorite part about your career as a competitive shotgunner?

I have to say the people in competition. I love being in that moment where you're tied and it's coming down to the wire. I've never had a problem staying motivated or losing interest because this is what I love. It's what I do. I get to go hunting, travel around the world and represent the country. It has to be one of the greatest jobs ever.

Current Magazine Cover

Enjoy articles like this?

Subscribe to the magazine.

Get access to everything Guns & Ammo has to offer.
Subscribe to the Magazine

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

Recent Videos

David Fortier of Firearm News talks with Silencer Central CEO and founder, Brandon Maddox about the origins of the company and what led to its inception. From its humble beginnings at trade shows to inside the newly renovated complex in Sioux Falls South Dakota, Maddox talks through how Silencer Central is now everywhere owning a silencer is legal.

Behind Closed Doors; An Intro to Silencer Central

Jack Oller of Guns & Ammo and Josh Schirard of Byrna go over the future for Byrna Non-Lethal weapons. Introducing the 12 Guage projectile, just as powerful as Byrna's other projectiles just utilizable in the 12 gauge weapon you already own.

Non-Lethal 12 Guage

Jack Oller of Guns & Ammo and Josh Schirard of Byrna go through the three law enforcement and civilian home defense weapons, the Mission 4, TCR, and the MLR. Useable with the entire line of Byrna's projectiles, learn about the weapons law enforcement is becoming equipped with and how they can step up your home defense systems.

Non-lethal for Law Enforcement and Home Defense: Mission 4, TCR, MLR

Jack Oller of Guns & Ammo and Josh Schirard of Byrna go over the aspects of the rapid deployment body armor Shield Backpack that make it invaluable in today's world. No matter where you're going, Byrna's Shield backpack will protect and equip you the ability to provide medical assistance to anyone in need.

Anywhere Protection With the Shield Backpack

Jack Oller of Guns & Ammo and Josh Schirard of Byrna take a closer look at the pistol-style SD Launcher and how to set one up. Pneumatically powered, utilizing Byrna's "pull-pierce" technology, the SD Launcher is ready whenever you need it.

Everyday Ready With the SD Launcher

Jack Oller of Guns & Ammo and Josh Schirard of Byrna go over the various projectiles to utilize with any of their launchers, including Kinetic, Pepper, Inert, Eco-Kinetic, and Max.

Power to the Projectile

Jack Oller of Guns & Ammo talks with Josh Schirard of Byrna to discuss the aspects of Byrna launchers and projectiles that are revolutionizing the world of non-lethal protection.

Meet Byrna: An Introduction to Non-Lethal

Digital Editor Jack Oller reviews EAA's Girsan MC P35 9mm pistol. Based the original P.35 Hi-Power pistol, the P35 features easy-to-use rear and front dovetail sights, slide serrations, slim trigger, ambidextrous safety, 15+1 capactiy and more. Sitting between a subcompact and full-size handgun, this hammer-fired 9mm is a great option for open or concealed carry.

Range Tested: EAA Girsan MC P35 9mm Pistol Review

Digital Editor Jack Oller reviews EAA's Girsan MC312 Sport shotgun. With a 24-inch barrel, fiber-optic front sight, vented rib, enhanced loading port, extended magazine tube, integrated Picatinny rail, pistol grip and more, the Girsan MC312 Sport shotgun may be the perfect firearm for an entry-level 3-gun competitive shooter.

Range Tested: EAA Girsan MC312 Sport Shotgun Review

Guns and Ammo Magazine Covers Print and Tablet Versions

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!


Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services


Buy Digital Single Issues

Magazine App Logo

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Guns & Ammo App

Other Magazines

See All Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get the top Guns & Ammo stories delivered right to your inbox every week.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Guns and Ammo subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Enjoying What You're Reading?

Get a Full Year
of Guns & Ammo
& Digital Access.

Offer only for new subscribers.

Subscribe Now