McKenna Dahl made history in Rio when she became the first woman to win a Paralympic medal in Shooting for the United States, earning bronze in Mixed Prone Air Rifle in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
She adds to a tremendous Olympic and Paralympic Games for the U.S. women, with a combined four medals including one gold and three bronze medals. They prove that it’s definitely alright to Shoot Like a Girl!
Dahl (Arlington, Washington), the youngest at age 20 and the only woman in the field of the eight finalists, qualified for the Final in third place with a score of 635.4. In the Finals, the top-eight shooters from Qualification all start at zero and Dahl lead early from the start of the Finals match, not wavering out of the top-three shooters in this tight contest. The average age of her seven opponents in that final was 40 years of age, a 20-year difference.
When it came to the elimination shot for the bronze-medal position (the 18th shot of the match), Dahl was in second place and shot a 10.3. The then third-place athlete – Geunsoo Kim of South Korea – shot a 10.8 to move ahead of Dahl where she would claim the bronze medal.
It’s overwhelming!” said Dahl, a 2012 NRA Junior Ambassador. “I knew about half way through the Final that I was in contention for a medal and I was probably going to succeed in doing so. A lot of it was really just shot process and breathing, keeping everything together and doing what I needed to do.
During her pre-event training yesterday, Dahl noted some issues with her rifle’s sights and did a complete replacement of her sights in the middle of the hour-long training session.
I had some issues with my sights sticking early on and about half way through the PET, they started sticking again so Armando [Ayala, Paralympic Assistant Coach] had brought a new sight and we changed it out. I named it ‘Aaron’ to get to know it better and become comfortable with it so I had a date with Aaron today and it went pretty well,” she laughed.
Dahl’s medal win marks the first U.S. Paralympic Games medal in Shooting since Dan Jordan won silver in Men’s Three-Position Rifle in 2004. Roger Withrow – the only U.S. Paralympic Games gold medal winner in Shooting – won gold in the Air Rifle Prone event in 1984.
Dahl finished 24th in her other event in Rio, Mixed Standing Air Rifle. The Washington native was born with amyoplasia arthrogryposis in her left hand and both of her feet, causing her muscles not to form properly.
Dahl was one of four U.S. women to participate in the Paralympic Games for the U.S. Shooting Team, which also included rifle shooters Jazmin Almlie-Ryan (Houston, Texas), Tammy Delano (Rome, New York) and pistol shooter Tricia Downing, the first female Paralympic pistol representative ever for the U.S. All these women were competing in their first Paralympic Games and definitely are seeing a 2020 vision now that their first Games is complete.
Almlie-Ryan had a high finish of 17th in Mixed Standing Air Rifle while battling illness during the Mixed Prone Air Rifle event to finish 23rd. Delano finished 17th in her Standing Air Rifle event and 42nd in Mixed Prone Air Rifle. Downing finished 19th in her Air Pistol match. She was extremely grateful for the opportunity just to be able to compete, fulfillment of a dream 15 years in the making after the paralysis that came when a car hit her head-on when she was out training on her bike in 2001.
I learned a lot [in this match],” Downing said. “I learned a lot this week, in this competition, and I’ve just learned a lot of things that I can just do better. We’re just going to call it an American Female Pistol record since I’m the first female pistol shooter to compete for the United States! I’m just grateful to be here and have the Paralympics under my belt. This was really a ‘bonus Paralympics’ for me as I was shooting for 2020, so now I know what I need to do, what I want to do and how to get in position to hopefully win a medal in 2020.
Downing was named to Team USA less than a week before the team departed for Rio due to reallocated Paralympic Games quotas.