Creating A Culture Of Winning
By Shari LeGate
In just two summers’ time, team USA Shooting athletes will compete against the world’s best at Tokyo 2020. New USA Shooting CEO Keith Enlow is bringing a fresh, new approach to how the organization operates. An outdoor enthusiast (having previously served in leadership roles at Remington and Barnes) Enlow understands the business of the shooting sports, the shooting industry and what it takes to create a winning team. And not just on the field, but off the field as well.
He recognizes the maze of financial obstacles and amateur athletic politics that await him, but he also knows of the successes of USA Shooting. There have been numerous World Championships, countless World Cup medals, world records set and 22 Olympic medals earned (including 10 gold, five silver and seven bronze over the span of six Olympic Games — fifth most among all U.S. sports during that time). Shooting Industry sat down with Enlow to discuss his vision for USA Shooting.
A resident of the Olympic Training Center, McKenna Dahl, 22 years old, was born with Amyoplasia
Arthrogryposis in her left hand and both of her feet, causing her muscles not to form properly.
But it hasn’t stopped Dahl from becoming a two-time National Champion and winning a bronze medal
at the 2016 Paralympic Games.
SI: What made you decide to take this position?
KE: I grew up in the shooting sports. Started hunting and shooting when I was aa kid and was lucky enough to get a job with Winchester in 1996. Leaped in and never looked back. I’d been with Remington the past seven years running the ammunition division and I got a phone call from a friend who let me know USA Shooting was looking for a new leader and asked if I would consider it.
I flew out to the Olympic Training Center (Colorado Springs, Colo.) for the interview, and as I walked through the gates, I saw all the flags flying and McKenna Dahl (Paralympic Rifle) coming through the doors at the shooting center in her wheelchair going to train at the indoor shooting range. I was a competitor as a kid and thought to myself, “They really need someone to oversee USA Shooting to help support these athletes,” and I jumped at the chance.
Nebraska native Frank Thompson participated in the 2012 and 2016 Olympic games (Skeet).
SI: What are the biggest challenges you see facing USAS?
KE: I call challenges opportunities — because that’s what they are. USA Shooting staff are all very good people, and our biggest challenge is to get our message out in a better way than we’ve done in the past.
I’ve been around for a long, long time and I knew of USA Shooting, but the call to action was never really there. Our athletes are funded by individuals, like our industry and our membership. When I think about our biggest opportunities, it’s on the revenue generation side.
As an example, in my first week the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) — the biggest financial contributor to our sport — announced they would continue to allocate funds for rifle and shotgun, but as the national governing body, we’ll have to support pistol on our own.
Why? Because our pistol team hasn’t won a medal since 1984. This means I have to reach out for the revenue generation to make sure our pistol athletes can go to the next Olympic Games. So, I reached out to the industry and I’ve been shocked at the response. We put together a pistol ad-hoc committee and the folks I reached out to — SIG, GLOCK, Smith & Wesson and Winchester — were right there wanting to support us, but their question was how.
29-year-old Vincent Hancock is the only skeet shooter in the world to win back-to-back gold
medals in consecutive Olympic Games (2008, 2012). In June, Hancock captured the third of three
straight World Cup gold medals after sitting out the 2017 season.
SI: Historically, the industry hasn’t been one of USAS biggest supporters. You were a member of that industry. Why wasn’t it?
KE: Having been on both sides of the fence now, I can honestly say it’s very strange, but there wasn’t a lot of reaching out from USA Shooting. It wasn’t that we weren’t aware of the program — we were — we just weren’t sure how to support it. Like all companies, I ran a P&L for Remington and you have to look at the financials, look at what the return is. I don’t think the industry was ever really shown that. Tokyo 2020 is right in front of us. Why not link and tie to us and help us get the message out? The return is huge.
SI: What do you want the industry to know about USA Shooting and you?
KE: Three things. First, I want the industry to know we’re here and we need their support. Second, I want our athletes to know we’re going to get the word out and we’re going to do it in different ways than we’ve done in the past. And, finally, we’re going to create a culture of winning — one we all embrace, because we’re all one big team. And we’re making sure we communicate — to the industry, the community and to our athletes. That’s me in a nutshell.
Keith Enlow has a vision. A 2020 vision. With a new board of directors and an athlete-first mentality, they’re gearing up for 2020 Olympic Games. They’re positive and optimistic they’ll be able to not only reach the finish line, but cross it. As long as they have a little help from their friends.