In Conversation with Olympic Athlete, Ryann Phillips - The Bend Magazine

In Conversation with Olympic Athlete, Ryann Phillips

How this local student became an Olympic trap shooter and the road ahead to Paris 2024.

Photography by Benjamin Zaragosa, provided by Texas A&M Corpus

At just 20 years old, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi student Ryann Phillips has officially become an Olympic athlete. One of the best trap shooters in the country, Phillips earned one of only two spots to make the team. 

In an interview with the university at the beginning of this year, Phillips said, “When you take on a dream like this, it’s definitely a labor of love. When I first began shooting as a kid, I almost gave it up, but then I tried again and as my mom says — I came back with a vengeance. I am incredibly proud and excited to have the chance to represent my country and this university on the world’s stage.”

We caught up with Phillips to discuss trap shooting, her initial reaction to finding out she had made the team and what she’s most looking forward to about heading to Paris. 

photo of Ryann Phillips, olympic trap shooter
Photography by Benjamin Zaragosa, provided by Texas A&M Corpus Christi
Kylie Cooper: How did you first get into the sport of trap shooting?

Ryann Phillips: I got started in shooting sports through 4-H when I was in third grade. I wanted to show animals, and my mom told me no, so I went and found something else to participate in and chose shotgun sports and archery. I ended up quitting archery but stuck with the shotgun. 

Eventually, I began competing in international USA Shooting competitions. In 2018, I did really well at the San Antonio Stock Show SALE Shoot in Modified Trap, which was sponsored by USA Shooting that year. From there, I got an invite to the Texas State Junior Olympics and then to Colorado Springs for nationals — and I haven’t stopped competing since. 

KC: How would you explain trap shooting to someone who has never heard of the sport? 

RP: My sport consists of shooting rounds of 25 shots at flying orange disks called birds. We shoot 12-gauge shotguns, and however many you hit out of those 25 targets is your score. Most international competitions consist of five rounds of 25.

KC: You are officially on the USA trap shooting team for the 2024 Summer Olympics. What did the trials entail?

RP: To make the Olympic team, you must compete at two International Shooting Sports Federation-sanctioned matches. After that, two matches made up Part 1 and Part 2 of the Olympic trials. They took the top two women and the top two men in trap to compete at the Games.


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KC: What was your initial reaction when you found out you had made the team?

RP: Mostly excitement. It still doesn’t feel real, so some of that excitement hasn’t hit. Mostly I was very proud of myself for shooting as well as I did.

KC: What does it take to become an Olympic-level shooter? 

RP: Dedication and a love for the game. Shooting is a very time-consuming and expensive sport. You have to be willing to put in the work even when it isn’t fun anymore, and then go back out and remember that love and passion.

KC: What does it mean for you to have female representation in this sport?

RP: I feel like female representation in all sports is important, especially shooting sports. When I first started in the sport, I was told there weren’t many girls, which is still true. There are a lot of women and girls who don’t participate because it is seen as a “boy sport.” I want people to realize that the only thing that matters is if you are having fun.

KC: You’ll be heading to Paris for the games soon. What are you most looking forward to? 

RP: We are participating in the Opening Ceremonies at the 2024 Paris Olympic Games, which is really cool. That is probably what I  am most excited about, because it is an amazing and unique opportunity.

KC: How can the Coastal Bend community support you?

RP: Help spread the word about shooting sports. I am always looking for new people who want to participate in the sport. If anyone wants to learn how to start or just have questions, they are welcome to reach out to me on Instagram. I also want people to advocate for everyone to find a sport or a hobby they love and to stick with it, no matter other peoples’ opinions.