The parking lot was full Saturday at Redlands Shooting Park and scores of people waited for local hero Kim Rhode to arrive.
It was "" for Rhode, 33, who won gold in the Summer Olympics on July 29 and gave a to her supporters in Redlands on national television.
Rhode brought her medals, signed autographs, and talked about how training in Redlands helped her win in London to become the first American to earn individual honors in five straight Olympics.
Lou Martinez, general manager of Redlands Shooting Park, was the first to give Rhode a hug in the parking lot.
"We're responsible for making sure she has what she needs," Martinez said just before Rhode arrived in a pickup truck. "What we do is we set up the field some. We normally set'em up for American trap. That's what we do.
"However for Kim and her event, she shoots international trap," Martinez said. "The targets fly about 10 miles an hour faster so there's some adjustments that need to be made.
"The owners Terry and Jackie Bilby have donated targets so she's allowed to practice, by doing that, Kim has continued to come out here, we give her a lot of love, so to speak, and we take care of her when she comes," Martinez said. "We make sure the fields are set, give her what she needs, our staff does a really good job providing that for her. . . .
"They do get kind of expensive, especially the way that Kim shoots. When she comes out she shoots anywhere from 250 to a thousand targets a day so it can get expensive, but our ownership here has been more than generous. And Kim is giving back, and that's what she's doing here today, she's giving back to us and our range, and helping us promote what we do out here."
Redlands Shooting Park has about 300 active members, and it's open to all members of the public seven days a week, Martinez said.
Rhode's mom, Sharon Rhode, was among those waiting Saturday morning. Sharon and Richard Rhode live in El Monte, where Kim was raised. Kim Rhode was born in Whittier and is a resident of .
"She trains at three different places, and the reason she goes between the three is the backgrounds are different," Sharon Rhode said. "It helps you better prepare because depending where you go, what country you go for competition, the backgrounds are all different. Sometimes the speed of the targets may vary just a little bit. So to vary it, and still be able to shoot, it's a big advantage when you go into competition in different countries and different ranges."
Aside from Redlands Shooting Park, Rhode trains at Oak Tree Gun Club in Newhall and Prado Shooting Park in Chino, where shooting events for the 1984 Olympics were held, Sharon Rhode said.
"She started young but I think a lot of it is practice, you have to have a certain dedication, and you have to really like what you do," Sharon Rhode said.
"She was 10," Sharon Rhode said. "She started pretty much with a Perazzi, an Italian shotgun. It was a Perazzi 20-gauge. She used to shoot American skeet, and she actually shot all four events. She shot the 12-gauge event with a 20-gauge gun, the 20-gauge event, and then the 28 and the 410, and she had barrels made, tubes made for her gun so she could shoot all the events."
When Kim Rhode talked about why she likes training in Redlands, she focused on background, a unique shooting range, "experience that I needed," and "incredible people."
Finding background in Southern California that might compare to overcast London, England, was key, and that is where the mountains north of Redlands Shooting Park helped, she said.
"One of the big things is the clouds," Rhode said Saturday. "There's a lot of kind of blue sky with clouds, and a lot of shadows and things like that, that I really was drawn to because in London we expected the overcast, the clouds and some of those shadows. So that was one of my big things in training here, and one of the reasons why I did.
"The lighting, the background, the shooting conditions really affect the way you see the targets, the way they're thrown and all that," Rhode said. "So that all plays into our sport. It's so technical and very hard to explain but it comes down even to your glass color, the color of lenses you're using to make the targets pop and different things.
"So it was something that was very important to me," Rhode said. "This range is very unique in that sense, compared to a lot of the other ranges that we have in Southern California, and it really gives you that experience that I needed. It's one of many backgrounds that I needed, but yeah that was the one particular thing, the clouds, the background. As you can tell today, it's a real blue kind of background with clouds coming over the hills.
"There's so many incredible people here that have really helped me get to this point," Rhode said. "Some of these guys have pulled for me when I didn't have a puller. They come out early just to cheer me on. Talk to me between rounds . . . they've done all kinds of great things. It's something you don't do on your own. It takes a lot of help and a lot of support, and without the people here in Redlands and other places, I wouldn't be here."
Rhode has competed over the years in double trap and skeet. She was the youngest member of the U.S. team at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, where she won gold in double trap. She won a double trap bronze in 2000, double trap gold in 2004, and silver in skeet in 2008. Her gold July 29 was also in skeet.
Redlands Shooting Park is a trap, skeet and sporting clays range on North Orange Street, just south of the Santa Ana River wash.
Redlands is about 65 miles east of downtown Los Angeles in San Bernardino County, Calif.