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It's that determination of some individuals that we all strive for - that sense of quest that keeps one activated every day, week, month or year after year. Kim Rhode not only loves playing an Olympian, she's one of the best in the world at her sport! Only 16-years-old, she was the youngest member of the '96 Olympic Shooting Team in a first-time venue that will give the United States a chance to take home the gold. Trap doubles is the game, but the adult seriousness seems left in the dust when this accomplished young woman smiles and lets out a brilliance in the colors of red, white, blue and gold banded braces. She made the team and on to her way to win the gold for her country. While her new red Corvette is idle at home in El Monte, a suburb of Los Angeles, CA, boasting a license plate that proclaims "96 OLYPN," she's off flying with the team to national fund raisers across the country. Currently settled in Atlanta, practicing at the famous Wolf Creek Gun Range, she's the tiny one on the field shooting a customized Perazzi shotgun. "Traveling with the team gives us a chance to know each other better, get more practice and a chance to get an edge on the competition," Rhode said. "I'm looking forward to the Olympics so much." US Army Marksmanship Sergeant Terry Wentzel DeWitt earned her way into the second spot in women's double trap. DeWitt, 32, from Cincinnati, OH, is working on wildlife research on brown grouse in the woods of Minnesota. The final determination of the team was attained after the 1996 US Olympic trials for shooting were held in April at the Olympic site at Wolf Creek Complex, Atlanta, GA. At one point, at the end of 1995, Rhode was ahead of other competitors by 13 targets. At the final trials, she entered with a 23 target lead and finished 25 targets ahead of anyone else to finish with an overall score of 413 out of a possible 480 targets to take the top spot on the women's double trap team. "I thought I would eventually make the team but I just didn't figure it would be this soon," Rhode said. "I'm just a youngster so just think of all the Olympics I can go to - when I'm 36, that's about seven Olympics." At the trials, it wasn't quite so easy for DeWitt who only had a two target lead over Olympic Training Center resident Ellie Schad, of North Platte, NE. DeWitt finished with an overall score of 388 to Schad's 380 to earn the second spot on the women's team. Rhode began shooting double trap about two years ago, but that's not when she first began her life with a gun to pursue record after record. The only daughter of Richard and Sharon Rhode, the young Olympian joined in the family hobby of shooting.To make the Olympic team, yearly scores are combined from a national event and different selection competitions, plus a qualifying score from out of the country. The quest will run from Olympics to Olympics, every four years. Rhode and the team just returned from competitions in Italy and Germany and are now settled down in Atlanta for Olympic preparations. "I've enjoyed all the places I've traveled to," she said. "There hasn't been a bad experience yet - knock on wood and knock on wood again because my guns and luggage have always been waiting for me at the right place." She finished up her junior year at Arroyo High School, where she is a top student, two weeks early in June to allow traveling and practice time. "The teachers work with me so I can study and travel and take tests later," Rhode said. Not only do they support her, but she has received her school's letter for her jacket that boasts crossed guns for her shooting accomplishments. Lloyd Woodhouse, USA national shotgun coach for the team, said that Rhode usually carries more books with her than luggage and is offered quiet time for her studies while traveling to competitions. "I've seen a lot of young people and shooters come and go and this little lady has dedication and goes after it on a daily basis," Woodhouse said. "She not only dedicates her time to shooting, but also gets good grades, otherwise she wouldn't be able to travel with us." Woodhouse gave some pointers to students who want to achieve Olympian status. "First and foremost - if they are interested in doing things with the US, they have to be a good academic student and a good citizen in school," he said. "Secondly, establish a goal and go after it." Woodhouse has been coaching the team since 1985 and will be experiencing his third Olympics. "Kim has worked very hard - maybe harder than most folks," Woodhouse said. "She also has the luxury of good weather where she can train every day in southern California and has parents that make arrangements." Woodhouse also complements Rhode's fine eye focus. "I'm right handed and left eye dominant," Rhode said. "But with a piece of tape on my left lens, I've learned to adjust and shoot right handed." A big help to her has been a special offset stock made by New England Stock Maker where the centerhold is off because she needs the comb away from her face, according to her father. "Being a small-framed woman, Kim needs as much recoil reduction as possible," Richard Rhode said. "We've mounted a G-square recoil reducer and Pachmayr stock pad and deacclerator pad to take extra kick out of the gun." Rhode said shooting the Federal 24 gram paper shell helps further in recoil reduction that is important because she shoots an average of 1,500 shells a week or at least 200 targets a day for practice when she's not traveling. "With Kim training every day, she gives up her private life of whatever any other student is doing," Woodhouse said. "But, she has achieved and received exposure to the world." Rhode has enjoyed the world exposure and still fits in time to western line dance and work on her computer, but has no boyfriend yet because she's not home very much. "There are a million little shops in Argentina where I like to shop and Germany has a great subway system, churches, lots of burial grounds and I saw the main concentration camp," Rhode said. "You can read about the camp in books, but it gives you a real gut wrenching feeling in your stomach to believe it actually happened." Planning for the Olympics has kept Rhode busy, but she dreams of skiing this winter at her uncle's place in Mammoth, California. </text> Browning, The Best there is because second best is well...second best.
 

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According to the 2001 Guiness Book of World Records Kim Rhode holds the world record for the most number of clay pigeons broken while shooting from a hanging-upside-down position. 25 out of 40, I believe. Browning, The Best there is because second best is well...second best.
 

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Kim carries an Olympic Gold and Olympic Bronze and is truly a special person in women's sports.I watched Kim recently (video)hand out first place awards to the junior team champions from Wadena, Minnesota at the nationals, and she did some demo shooting.When you see her shoot, you gotta ask yourself, "What on earth did that girl do with that Perazzi?" The butt stock appears to be filed flat, with a comb riser that is right parallel to the line of the barrel. The drop to comb cannot be more than 1/2 inch, and the butt has recoil reduction equipment.She shoots that gun without a raised rib. How does she do that, with a drop to comb of 1/2 inch?As you feature these top women shooters, it would be interesting to see their respective shooting styles and how they fit the gun.
 

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She has done with the Perazzi what many shooters fail to do....fit the gun to your body, not your body to the gun. I'd be willing to bet there were several incarnations of that stock setup to achieve the proper fit and there will likely be tweaks as she grows.Hats off to SCG for a good read about a remarkable young lady. There is a fine line between a hobby and insanity.
 

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Not to take anything away from Kim or her obvious dedication, and talent, but one factor most people don't think of when they talk about a shooters dedication, and skill especially at the national level is they all have basically unlimited amount of funding at their disposal.

Your average middle class parents could never afford to send their kid to the shoots and training required to make the national shooting team. Unless things have changed a lot in the last 10-12 years since I was invited to the junior olympic tryouts. They pay for a little more when you make the team, but you still have to cover a lot of your own costs.

I don't remember the exact figure, but I remember I almost fell over when they told us the estimated financial requirement by the shooter to not only get on, but maintain being on the national team, because all expenses were far from paid. It was pretty depressing for about half the kids that went to the invite because they knew there was no way their parents could shell out the $ to make that happen for them, even if they did have the potential.

If you do a little math 1500 rounds a week lets say for 40 weeks, is $12,000 a year just in practice shells, add to that the 40,000 targets of practice (200 a day for 200 days) at $8/100 you have another $4000 in targets, you add in a couple of international shoots, flights, travel, custom guns/stocks, and many regional shoots and you are probably talking $50K a year or more. Not to mention the corvette and cobra.....

That said, it takes very little away from her accomplishment, it's very hard at that age to dedicate yourself that much to one thing, having no friends, no girlfriend/boyfriend, having to work much harder at school because you are never there, and always being on the go with such a load of responsibility and pressure. I know when I was that age it all of that stuff pretty well ruined shooting for me, it was more a job than enjoyment, a job that cost a lot of money. In fact I quit shooting for almost 10 years after that and am just now getting back into the swing.

So if I could give her any advice it would be to keep it fun, even if it's just a tiny little thing you do, keep it fun.
 
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