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Kansas City region is sending 2 trapshooting champions to the Paris Olympics

The Kansas City area is sending two competitors to the 2024 Paris Summer Olympics: Staff Sgt. Rachel Tozier, left, a member of the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit based at Fort Moore in Georgia, and Derrick Mein of Paola, Kansas, who is making his second trip to the Olympics.
U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit / Greg Echlin
/
KCUR 89.3
The Kansas City area is sending two competitors to the 2024 Paris Summer Olympics: Staff Sgt. Rachel Tozier, left, a member of the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit based at Fort Moore in Georgia, and Derrick Mein of Paola, Kansas, who is making his second trip to the Olympics.

Half of this year's Team USA shotgun trapshooters hail from within an hour of Kansas City. Army Staff Sgt. Rachel Tozier grew up competing in rural Pattonsburg, Missouri, to the north. Derrick Main was raised on a family farm in Walnut, Kansas, to the south.

Four trapshooters, total, will go to the 2024 Paris Summer Olympics for Team USA — two women and two men. Half of those athletes are from the Kansas City region.

Competitors in the Olympic shooting discipline aim to hit out of the air a 4¼-inch disc traveling at 68 mph. In each round, every shotgun shooter takes five shots from five different positions.

Staff Sgt. Rachel Tozier, a member of the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit based at Fort Moore in Georgia, is a first-time member of the national shooting team. Tozier qualified in March at trials in Tucson, Arizona.

“Just getting there is such an honor and I’m proud of how I’ve done to get there,” said Tozier, 32. “But everybody wants to win an Olympic medal if you go to the Olympics.”

Staff Sgt. Rachel Tozier at the Olympic qualifiers in Tucson, Arizona, in March. She was one of two shooters from the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit to qualify for the Paris Olympics at the event.
U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit
Staff Sgt. Rachel Tozier at the Olympic qualifiers in Tucson, Arizona, in March. She was one of two shooters from the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit to qualify for the Paris Olympics at the event.

Tozier knows the high caliber of shotgun trapshooters around Kansas City. Before joining the Army, she managed the Kansas City Trapshooters Association range in Smithville, Missouri.

Tozier, who grew up in Pattonsburg, about an hour north of Kansas City, started shooting when she was 12, and began competing at 14.

“I really enjoyed basketball,” said Tozier, who went to Pattonsburg High School. “But that was all I played because softball season was at the same time as my shooting season in the fall, and I wasn’t going to give up the shoot.”

“We all grew up hunting. We all grew up around shotguns, rifles and different firearms. It’s just natural, I think, more natural to be good at it,” said Tozier.

She’s joined on Team USA by Derrick Mein of Paola, Kansas, who is making his second trip to the Olympics after competing in the delayed 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

“It was a big relief,” said Mein last April, after going through the Olympics trials. “I put so much into my planning for the future and into making this Olympic team.”

Derrick Mein trapshooting at the family farm where he grew up, in Walnut, Kansas. Mein placed 24th in the delayed 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Greg Echlin
/
KCUR 89.3
Derrick Mein trapshooting at the family farm where he grew up, in Walnut, Kansas. Mein placed 24th in the delayed 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Mein said his first step at this year’s Olympics is making the finals — then, all bets are off.

“I’d be lying to you if I told you I wouldn’t be disappointed if I didn’t win a medal, especially a gold,” said Mein. “If I were to win the silver, I’d come home wanting the gold.”

Kansas City area nearly had three Olympic trapshooters

There was a chance that three of the four Team USA shotgun shooters would come from the Kansas City area, but Staff Sgt. Seth Inman, also part of the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit, narrowly missed the Olympic team for the second straight time — the 42-year-old was just one target away from the Tokyo Olympics.

At this stage of his career, Inman’s making a transition from competitor to team leader of the U.S. Army marksmanship team.

He’s known about Tozier’s talents for several years.

“She doesn’t take failure very well, as far as how it was going in her first couple years she was here with the Army,” said Inman. “But I said, ‘Just wait it out. You’re going to take off.’”

Inman goes so far as to call Tozier the modern day Annie Oakley, the famous sharpshooter who toured with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show for 16 years.

Staff Sgt. Rachel Tozier
U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit
Staff Sgt. Rachel Tozier grew up in Pattonsburg, Missouri, about an hour north of Kansas City. Before joining the Army, she managed the Kansas City Trapshooters Association range in Smithville.

“It’s been quite fun to watch,” he said. “We couldn’t be prouder of her and she’s got a good chance — definitely a podium (finish).”

The national dominance of local trapshooters might make some wonder if it’s something in the air around here creating a hotspot of talent.

Mein, 39, believes it’s the variable weather conditions in Missouri and Kansas, which lends itself to better preparation between him and Tozier.

“When we get into competition, and it is those unpleasant conditions, we have a better opportunity to be successful because of our past experiences,” said Mein, who finished his Tokyo Olympics debut in 24th place.

If the summer weather conditions in Paris are hot and humid, Tozier said USA trapshooters from the Kansas City area will be ready for it.

“You may get three or four feet of snow overnight and it may be 105 degrees in the summers,” she said, recalling the extreme Missouri conditions she grew up with in Pattonsburg.

Trapshooting events at the 2024 Paris Olympics begin for the men on Sunday, July 29, and the women the next day. NBC will air the men’s trap final at 8:30 a.m. on Monday, July 30, and the women’s final at 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday, July 31. See the full Olympics schedule at Olympics.com.

Sports have an economic and social impact on our community and, as a sports reporter, I go beyond the scores and statistics. I also bring the human element to the sports figures who have a hand in shaping the future of not only their respective teams but our town. Reach me at gregechlin@aol.com.
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