Rhode, Uptgrafft USA Shooting Athletes of the Year

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- USA Shooting is proud to announce Kim Rhode (El Monte, Calif.) and Eric Uptagrafft (Phenix City, Ala.) as the 2011 USAS Athletes of the Year. Both athletes have risen above the rest and have handfuls of hardware as a result of their impressive performances on the international and national scene in 2011. Moreover, Uptagrafft and Rhode are the male and female athletes of their respective disciplines.

Rhode, a Women's Skeet athlete, is the reigning Female Athlete of the Year and has held the prestigious title for the past four years. "I'm honored to be selected as Female Athlete of the Year. I'm training hard and looking forward to the 2012 Olympic Games," said an elated Rhode. After a fifth place finish at the ISSF World Cup Chile, Rhode won a gold medal in Sydney, securing her U.S. Olympic Team nomination (pending approval by the USOC). Rhode's won another medal at the ISSF World Cup in Beijing-a silver medal from the range where she won her 2008 Olympic silver medal.

Back stateside, Rhode etched her name yet again in the Sizemore trophy with another National Championship title. She concluded the year with a bronze medal at the ISSF World Clay Target Championships in Belgrade, Serbia, and her first ISSF World Cup Final gold medal in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. "This is an exciting time for me," said Rhode. "I'm honored to receive this Athlete of the Year award and appreciate the support of my great sponsors who share in this honor with me." Rhode is well on her way to achieving her next goal of accomplishing five individual Olympic medals in five consecutive Olympic Games. If she accomplishes that feat, she will add her name to the history books yet again.

Sergeant First Class Eric Uptagrafft of the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit (USAMU) has had the season of a lifetime yet was humbled by the nod as he said, "There are so many athletes that shot great this year and to be counted among them is quite an honor." First, at the ISSF World Cup in Sydney, Uptagrafft started the year with a near perfect 599 out of 600 match points. He won his first ISSF World Cup medal of the year-silver and an important Men's 50m Rifle Prone quota for the USA. In Changwon Uptagrafft won yet another silver medal and earned a nomination to the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team (pending approval by the USOC). Back on his home range Uptagrafft won the bronze medal at the 2011 USAS National Championships for Rifle and Pistol. Just days after winning his bronze Uptagrafft was deployed to Afghanistan to serve his country in his capacity as a soldier. Upon his return from service Uptagrafft shipped off yet again, but this time to compete in the prestigious ISSF World Cup Final. In Wroclaw, Poland, Uptagrafft shined and won the silver medal after seven weeks off practice and only one week to prepare. "Thanks to the U.S. Army, the USAMU and USA Shooting for supporting me in my mission. I'd also like to thank my wife Sandra, my coaches Dave Johnson and Tom Tamas, and the thousands of supporters and sponsors of USA Shooting who make this all possible," said Uptagrafft.

USA Shooting would like to congratulate Kim Rhode and Eric Uptagrafft on their respective successes in 2011 and wish them continued medals in 2012. Additional team members receiving recognition as the USAS Discipline Athletes of the Year are as follows: Emil Milev (Pistol), Jamie Beyerle (Rifle), Josh Richmond (Shotgun) and Eric Hollen (Paralympic). To read more about their accomplishments, please click here. Follow members of the USA Shooting Team as the quest for the 2012 Olympic Games continues with the U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Airgun Feb. 24-26, 2011 in Anniston, Ala., the U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Shotgun May 17-20 in Tucson, Ariz., and finally the U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Smallbore June 1-2 in Fort Benning, Ga.

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Winchester Ammunition is a Proud Sponsor of the USA Shooting Shotgun Team: Winchester® Ammunition has been the exclusive ammunition sponsor and supplier of the USAShooting Shotgun Team since 1999. Members of the 2008 shotgun team brought home four medals from Beijing using Winchester AA International Target loads. Winchester is an industry leader in advancing and supporting conservation, hunter education and our country's proud shooting sports heritage. For more information about Winchester and its complete line of products, visi

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USA Shooting, a 501c3 non-profit corporation, was chartered by the United States Olympic Committee as the National Governing Body for the sport of shooting in April 1995. USA Shooting's mission is to prepare American athletes to win Olympic medals, promote the shooting sports throughout the U.S. and govern the conduct of international shooting in the country. Check us out on the web a and on Twitter at