As soon as the hubster said he wanted to go to Colorado Springs, Colorado, for a class reunion at the “Blue Zoo,” aka Air Force Academy, I began making plans … not what to wear to class events, such as dinners and a football game, but how in the wide world of sports can we see the Olympic Training Center? Fortunately, The WON has a great relationship with the USA Shooting Team and its public relations folks. I reached out to Jessica Delos Reyes, associate director of media and public relations, and she invited us to visit her onsite at the US Olympic Training Center. And then, she invited us out to see the Nationals, being held at a range outside of the Springs, where the team’s shotgun athletes competed for points to secure a berth in the 2020 Games in Tokyo.
A photo will tell a lot more than a few words, so enjoy this gallery featuring our nation’s fine athletes, the team behind them and the wonderful facilities they use for training. As someone said to me, “No one here is going for the silver medal.”
Look at the photos in the window of the Shooting Center! From left to right, you’ll see medalists Ginny Thrasher (Women’s 10m Air Rifle/Three-Position Rifle), Kim Rhode (Women’s Skeet), Corey Cogdell (Women’s Trap) and McKenna Dahl (Mixed 10m Air Rifle Standing SH2, R5 – Mixed 10m Air Rifle Prone SH2, Falling Target Rifle SH2). By the way, according to a curator at the NRA Firearms Museum, women hold more Olympic medals in shooting than men.
It’s not only a training facility for the shooting team, it’s also home to sport facilities and support services for the summer Olympic, Paralympic, Pan American and Parapan American sports — which include Boxing, Cycling (Olympic and Paralympic), Figure Skating, Gymnastics, Paralympic Judo, Pentathlon Shooting (Olympic and Paralympic), Paralympic Swimming and Wrestling.
Positivity is everywhere at this site, and you can see it reflected in posters and attitudes.
These athletes are working on the David F. Ridenhour Range, which offers a state-of-the-art airgun electronic training platform.
Check out the affirmations on the whiteboard on the airgun range.
Just for fun … Jessica and I jumped into an actual bobsled, located at the Visitors Center.
Here’s a pic of the gym. One thing that I came away from the tour with was the vast team of professionals behind the athletes — from Jessica and the crew in Public Relations, of course, to the trainers, coaches, nutritionists, medical staff and the list goes on and on. Often, when athletes get injured, they come here to heal and retrain. If they need a switch in diets, they can get expert advice, and of course, there’s always the mental mindset involved with coaching in that area, too.
Jessica said this is a great place for a photo op and I agree! We also had lunch in the athletes’ dining hall, next to the men’s gymnastic team and I looked over at the table next to us, and lo and behold, who was at the table, but … this guy! Oh, and by the way, there were no French fries to be found in the dining options.
When we finished with the parties and football game at the Air Force Academy, we headed over to Ft. Carson, an Army post near Colorado Springs, to the official US Shooting Team’s shotgun range. Check out the view from the range. Several athletes were competing in the USA Shooting National Championships for placement on the Olympic team for 2020, in Skeet and Trap.
Talk about being slightly distracting, right?
Six-time Olympic medalist Kim Rhode is in the house and on the range! It’s always such a pleasure to watch her shoot.
Ashley Carroll, who shoots Trap, talked with us for a while. We felt it was important not to interrupt, or demand any time from any of the athletes on this important part of their journeys to reach their goals of going to the Olympics.
Thirteen-year-old Carey Garrison is taking the Trap shooting world by storm and doing really well. That’s right; she’s 13.
Emma Williams is another strong contender on the Trap field.
The women shoot alongside the men at these matches. Here is Emily Underwood, who is now competing in the Women’s Division for Trap, shows us the mental side of shooting.
When not on the line, the athletes take turns keeping score — the old-fashioned way.
Corey Cogdell won the 2018 Shotgun National Championships for Women’s Trap. Here she is on the range.
Tours for the public are available at the US Olympic Training Center. Check the website for more information. You will be glad you did, and it can’t help but instill pride in our team and what they represent for our country.
Publisher/Editor Barbara Baird is a freelance writer in hunting, shooting and outdoor markets. She is a contributing editor at "SHOT Business," and her bylines are found at several top hunting and shooting publications. She also is a travel writer, and you can follow her at ozarkian.com. View all posts by Barbara Baird