SI.com: You were the first U.S. athlete to qualify for the Olympics in London, how does that feel?

Kim Rhode: Well nothing is ever guaranteed, so it's nice having it out of the way. Now we can come up with a strategic plan that we're going to try and execute as far as endurance, training, and the little things that I want to work and focus on. I can actually work on those things in the World Cup as it leads up to the Olympics. Before, we've only known [if we were on the Olympic team] a couple weeks before the Olympics. Trying to book hotels with 10 million other things going on was crazy; it's nice that we'll be able to get some things out of the way. When the time comes around, we can stay more focused and relaxed. Maybe I can enjoy things a little more.

SI.com: Aside from shooting the gun, what do you do to stay in shape?

KR: I personally focus on a lot of core strength. Like anything, it's the little muscles, the little things that are so specific to the sport. Our main focus is on our upper back and our arms. We don't focus too much on our legs aside from keeping a good endurance. You need to be able to stand for a long time and carry a lot of weight, but we're looking at more of the long, lean muscle instead of the bulky mass. If you start weight lifting and body-building and building mass, it can actually hinder you.

One exercise they had me do is on a Bosu ball. I stood with one leg on the Bosu ball, and then I tried to reach down and touch a bar that's lower, reaching across my body, all while holding my balance. With shooters, it's always a lot of hand eye coordination. That slow, painful workout...that's what we're all about.

SI.com: You've had tremendous success in your career, but was there ever a time when you struggled and wanted to quit?

KR: I've definitely had my moments; I think every Olympian does. One of the toughest things I ever had to go through was in 2004 when they eliminated my event [double trap] and I was forced to switch to another event [skeet shooting], where women had been practicing for 10 or 20 years. Then here I was, this newbie on the team, trying to learn something from scratch because really, the only common between the two events was maybe the clay targets. It was the equivalent of a backstroke swimmer switching to diving...the only common thing being the water. It was very difficult and very frustrating because you're going from the top of your game all the way to the bottom and have to work your way back up again. But it's something that made me work even harder. Maybe it's why I qualified so quickly because I worked so hard.

SI.com: What's your eyesight?

KR: It's very good. I can always read the bottom of the eye chart! But I do have teammates who don't have perfect vision. I know one year we had a girl [Colyn Loper] who was blind in one eye. It really just depends on the shooter. In our sport it comes down to hand-eye coordination and to be able to take in your surrounds and adapt and make changes quickly. You need to multitask: the wind, the lighting...the way the targets come out. From your stance, hole point, the gun, so many little things. It's kind of like golf, all the little things you have to be aware of and calculate to make it all come together and one moment.

SI.com: Have you ever kept close track of how well you're shooting?

KR: I've never really kept count of how many I've hit in a row or anything. I've estimated I've shot well over two million times. That's a huge number.

SI.com: Do you even miss anymore?

KR: Oh yeah! Anyone who says they hit them all, they lie. But we hit them when they count the most.

SI.com: Tell me about the public speaking you do. Do you still get nervous?

KR: Heck yes! I think every time - my knees start knocking and I get nervous. I don't think anyone's all gung-ho for public speaking. I think it's one of the most nerve-racking things to do. But at the same time it's very fun to met people and share your story, and hear how maybe five years down the road, when you run into these people again, how it's affected their lives or how it changed something in their lives or made them look at life a little different. It's kind of amazing and keeps me going on it. But, yes, I still get very nervous. When the time comes, I say, oh God, don't let me pull a Miss Congeniality.

SI.com: You collect children's books. How did that start?

KR: First edition children's books, yes. It began about eight or nine years ago when I bought my house, and a very dear friend of mine gave me a Wizard of Oz book, now my favorite. What I loved about them was the spine. They had all these characters from the Oz story...they had the Tin Man, the Cowardly Lion...they were so fascinating, so colorful. I go for mainly illustrated, mostly ones that are unique. I love the artwork, the history. The old ones in the 1800s, the villains were realty scary!

SI.com: Your gun was stolen several years ago. What happened?

KR: It was about a year after it was stolen that the police called me. The police suspected a guy of violating his probation so they went in and did a random search of his house and they found my gun under his bed. He had bought it or traded for it� they're not quite sure how he got it� from two other guys who originally stole it. We have [the two other guys] on camera and all the footage of it. They had been following me and knew what was in the vehicle and it hadn't mattered where I stopped, according to the guy with the gun.

Of course, when the police came to find it, they saw my name embroidered in four-inch letters on the inside. It was all very strange and spooky.

SI.com: Are you back to shooting it?

KR: I now have it locked away. When it was stolen, a lot of people stepped up and helped to donate a new gun to me, a 12 gauge Italian Perazzi. It was really just awesome to see so many people believe in me and support me. And now it's like I'm carrying all those people with me who helped. I think it's actually working better than the old one! I think it really forced me to practice even harder and really learn the gun all over again.

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