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Hunters Take Center Stage in USA Shooting Sports at the Rio Olympics

Team USA did outstanding at the 2016 Rio De Janeiro Olympic Games. More specifically, Americans competing in shooting sport events were on fire! It is also interesting to note how many of our Olympic shooting sports leaders came to the sport with a hunting background.  In fact, for several Olympians, hunting is absolutely part of who they are!

The very first Gold Medal awarded this Olympics was won by 19 year old, Virginia native, Ginny Thrasher in the 10-meter air rifle competition last Saturday. Ginny’s air rifle of choice, her black Feinwerkbau 700 air rifle. This high pressured air rifle advertises that it will “leave the competition standing in your wake,” and that is exactly what Ginny Thrasher did. Thrasher shot a new Olympic record with a score of 208. When Ginny is not at target practice, she has been found hunting whitetails with her Grandpa.


Six time Olympian and gold medalist, Kimberly Rhode added another bronze medal to her collection at the Womens’ Skeet Shooting event. Kimberly is very much a hunter and grew up chasing everything from deer to dove with her father and grandfather.  Kim is also a member of Safari Club International, a conservation organization dedicated to supporting hunting/conservation efforts world wide.

Olympic legend Kim Rhodes doing what she loves!
Olympic legend Kim Rhodes doing what she loves!

Corey Cogdell also captured a bronze medal in the Womens’ Trap Shooting event. This was her 2nd Olympics.  Corey grew up hunting in Alaska and it is a big part of her life!

cogdell hunting
Corey Cogdel with a nice whitetail in her “spare” time!

USA Archery also made headlines. The Men’s Archery Team has taken home a silver medal for the 2nd Olympics in a row. U.S. archer, Brady Ellison also competed individually and took home a bronze medal.  Brady is a big hunter who got his start in archery while elk hunting with his father. Brady represented the United States well this year.  When asked about winning the bronze during a heart pounding shoot off he stated….You don’t know how tough you are until tough is going on.”

Brady Ellison is a hard core hunter
Brady Ellison is a hard core hunter

Mackenzie Brown is another notable Olympic archer who shot her first arrow as a young girl, in the National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP), a program that Nebraska Game and Parks Commission has helped bring to more than 250 schools across our state. The NASP program is providing several million youth each year the opportunity to experience archery.  Who knows, maybe our next Olympic gold medalist is a young girl sitting in a fifth grade classroom in Lincoln Nebraska and doesn’t even know yet how much incredible talent she has!  NASP may just be the key in helping her reach her Olympic dreams.

From school archery program to Olympic standout!
From school archery program to Olympic standout!

It is interesting how many of our Olympic shooting sports athletes grew up hunting with their families. It is easy to see how a youth could move from hunting into more serious competitive target shooting.  After all, the shooting skill sets are very similar.  You might even say that grass roots hunting skills have been the first training grounds for many Olympic shooters over the  years.   Way to go team USA and the many outdoorsmen and women who helped train them!

About jeff rawlinson

Jeff is the Education Manager in the Communications Division with Game and Parks where he has worked for the last 15 years. He oversees the Hunter Education, Boater Education, Hunter Outreach and Shooting Range Development for the Commission and is a devout hunter, angler, wildlife viewer, naturalist, father and husband. He holds a BS and MS from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. He has been a Hunter Education Instructor for over 20 years, NRA firearms instructor and range officer, National Archery in the Schools Program Archery Instructor Specialist and member of the National NASP Board, sits on the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies Hunter Recruitment and Retention Committee and Education Committee. Jeff is an avid handgun hunter, loves to chase turkeys in the spring, squirrel hunting enthusiast and philosopher of the outdoors. He is an avid shooter and loves to spend outdoor time with family and friends. He has a passion for exciting others about the outdoors. A history buff, Jeff is a strong supporter of our North American Model of Conservation and tries to spread the message of its importance and relevance every chance he gets.

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