It has been a good year for female shooters.  America’s first Gold Medal in this year’s Olympics was captured by young Virginia Thrasher, competing in ten meter Women’s Air Rifle.  Kim Rhode went Gold, too. Having won her first world shooting championship at the tender age of 13, Ms. Rhode is described thus in Wikipedia:  “A California native, she is a six-time Olympic medal winner, including three gold medals, and six-time national champion in double trap. She is the most successful female shooter at the Olympics as the only triple Olympic Champion and the only woman to have won two Olympic gold medals for Double Trap. She won a gold medal in skeet shooting at the 2012 Summer Olympic Games, equaling the world record of 99 out of 100 clays.[2] Most recently, she won the bronze medal at the Rio 2016 Olympics making her the first Olympian to win a medal on five different continents and the first Summer Olympian to win an individual medal at six consecutive summer games.”

As an American, I’m proud of them both. Personally, though, I’m proudest of a female champ I do have the honor of knowing, Kim Heath of the Will County (Illinois) Sheriff’s Department. An awesome trainer, she showed her mettle this year when she won the National Patrol Rifle Championships where the competition is not only very tough but very strenuous,  beating all the men present as well as the handful of other female officers.  Here’s the story on that.

You can see her in action, teaching:

Or you can watch the video here.

I salute them all.  The great rifle expert Col. Townsend Whelen was famous for saying, “Only accurate rifles are interesting.”  To that one might add, “Only strong women are interesting.”


  1. Your quote “Only strong women are interesting” reminds me of another similar quote that is directed at all the young single men out there.

    “Don’t look for a Princess in need of saving. Search for a Queen willing to fight by your side.”

    Good advice in my opinion.

  2. Great post Mas. Congratulations to the trio of champions mentioned here.

    Furthermore, thanks for the link to Kim Heath’s teaching videos, much appreciated. Plenty of good advice there!
    Listen up folks, you’re going to want to know what Kim’s got to say.

  3. In my neck of the woods (Portland, Oregon) many humans who are biologically male apparently do not wish to be men. As a consequence more than a few women are taking over formally traditional male roles including hunting, shooting, auto mechanics, home repair, etc. When men become this ineffectual it seems that women have no choice but to take their place, like these top “strong women” shooters.

  4. Interesting little video; I was always taught to control the weapon by keeping a hand on the pistol grip. However just because it’s always been done that way doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best way.

    Oh, and well done Kim Heath.

  5. Just read, “Understanding the Gun Debate, Part 3.” It was excellent, as always. I wish I could make it required reading for everyone, fourth grade and up.

    If I begin to feel depressed at any time during the next four years, I just need to remember one thing to pick up my thoughts. What if Hillary had become President in 2016?

  6. Looks even easier to work the charging handle from prone doing it Kim’s way. Any one way to do it should probably not be set in stone, though.

    Many military combat instructors will hit you in the back of the helmet with a 2 x 4 if you don’t get prone when you are supposed to, prone being the shooting position of choice most of the time.

  7. Back in 1969-70s, when I trained on and taught the M-16 at Benning, it was right-hand cycle the bolt and hit the forward assist. That’s why the handle was shaped the way it is. Plus, you can’t reach the bolt catch with your right hand to lock the bolt open.

    Don’t know when it changed.

  8. The mention of air rifles reminded me of my youth. I had a BB gun, I _think_ it was a Crosman, but the years have fogged my memory. It cocked by grasping the barrel at the front sight and telescoping the entire barrel into what, in a real rifle, would be the chamber area. I don’t know whether it was pneumatic or mechanical (spring), but I know this: it shot hard.

    I know this because I made the mistake of sitting on a chair, putting the rifle vertically between my knees, and instead of grasping the barrel around its circumference to cock it placing my palm over the muzzle and pressing down to telescope the action. The folds of material in my pants around my knees caught the trigger and just as I got the barrel to maximum compression, discharged the airgun. Yep, it had a BB in it and it shot it halfway through my right hand. Though it’s faint, here 50+ years later I can still see the scar where the doctor dug out the BB.

    Years later, I was doing Civil War reenacting and took to being part of a cannon crew, most often on a Union 3″ Ordinance Rifle in position #1, the guy with the swab/rammer (a truly fine weapon, by the way: ).

    We were taught never to get in front of the muzzle and not to ever wrap our thumbs around the shaft of the rammer. (So that if the powder charge we were ramming detonated that it would blow out the rammer without taking our thumbs with it.) After my experience with my BB gun, that was not a difficult concept for me at all. And I still have my thumbs, due to a scar on my palm.

  9. Liberal Dave,

    Experience is the best teacher, but it’s better to learn from someone else’s experience. Your injury reminded me of one of my own. In 1975 I was at a Boy Scout camp. I was whittling something with my pocket knife. The knife slipped and I cut into my left thumb a bit. It drew blood, but wasn’t bad. I went to the nurse. At the time I was reminded of what I had been taught; don’t cut toward yourself. I can still faintly see the scar made by that cut. Since then, I’ve always been careful with knives, and haven’t cut myself again……yet.

  10. It’s been many years now that shooting sport bigwigs and conservation agencies have been saying the future of shooting sports and hunting are in the hands of women. I believe it and there are many fine examples.

  11. Question: was it a good year for women shooters, or for American women shooters? Because ISTM that it would be no worse (or better) for women if Italian or Chilean or Korean ladies won instead.

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