The day after the opening ceremonies in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Aug 5, shooting will be among the first world-class sports competitions facing the USA Shooting Team and several members of that team will be medalists from previous Olympic Games—including women shotgunners.
The whole team had not yet been finalized as this issue of W&G went to press since more trials were scheduled for late June. But if and when NBC and its various cable outlets start televising the games, you might get to see some of the shooting competition; on its earlier schedule the network listed shooting as an event to be televised the day after the opening ceremonies.
Leading off the American shotgun team will be Kim Rhode of El Monte, CA, already a living legend in her sport and within Olympic history. Rhode is the first American ever to win Olympic medals in five consecutive Olympic Games in an individual sport. In Brazil she will be competing against the world’s best in Women’s Skeet as she chases her sixth Olympic medal. She guaranteed her historic quest for a sixth medal—she has three gold, one silver and one bronze—by winning the team nomination in Women’s Skeet at the US Olympic Team Trials for Shotgun in Tillar, AR, in May.
Rhode will be joined in Rio de Janeiro by Frank Thompson, Alliance, NE, who won the Men’s Skeet competition at the Tillar trials, punching his ticket to a second Olympic Games. Thompson finished in eighth place at the 2012 Olympic Games in London, England.
All seven Team USA Olympic spots in shotgun have now all been determined and it has a similar look to London 2012 with the only new addition being 2015 World Champion Morgan Craft of Muncy Valley, PA. All told, there are nine Olympic medals among the group. Craft, Vincent Hancock, Eatonton, GA, and Glenn Eller, US Army Marksmanship Unit/Houston, TX, all earned their spots through USA Shooting’s Points System for Olympic Selection. Josh Richmond, US Army Marksmanship Unit/Hillgrove, PA, Rhode, Thompson, and Corey Cogdell-Unrein. Cogdell-Unrein was a bronze medalist in Women’s Trap in 2008. All of these team members earned their spots through the US Olympic Team Trials.
Shooting events have been a part of all the Olympic Games except the 1904 Games in St. Louis, MO, and the 1928 Olympic Games in Amsterdam. Individual and team events were fired until 1948, when team contests were eliminated by the Union Internationale de Tiro (UIT).
The number of Olympic shooting events has ranged from a low of two at the 1932 Los Angeles games to a high of 21 in Antwerp in 1920. Beginning in 2008 at the Beijing Olympic Games, the Olympic program now includes 15 events: six for women and nine for men. The athletes are divided into shotgun, rifle and pistol disciplines.
Shooting sports have been included at every Summer Olympic Games since the birth of the modern Olympic movement at the 1896 Summer Olympics.
Men’s Shooting was one of the nine events at the first modern Olympic Games in Athens, in 1896. In the Paris Games in 1900, live pigeons were used as moving targets. After the 1900 games, the pigeons were replaced with clay targets. In 1907, the International Shooting Sport Federation came into existence and brought some standardization to the sport.
Events that were once marked as “Men’s” were actually open events from 1968 until 1980 (and in shotgun events until 1992). Two women won medals in such mixed events: Margaret Murdock (silver in Rifle 3-position in Montreal in1976) and Zhang Shan (gold in Skeet in 1992).
With coverage of the Olympic Games now spread out over NBC’s network of cable channels, it is easier to catch televised coverage of shooting events than ever before, albeit with access to cable or dish packages necessary. At the 2012 Olympics, Rhode’s achievements were so unprecedented that she got coverage on the NBC broadcast flagship network in evening summary packages and on early morning Today Show coverage.