Triple Olympic medalist and face of the CZ 457 series
Interview and bio
One could say that Katerina Emmons and shooting sports are one and the same, the more so because of strong family roots and ties. Were you influenced by your family to take up shooting sports? Why didn’t you choose a different sport?
As a little girl, I started with swimming. For 10 years, swimming was the sport I wanted to see myself competing in at future Olympic games. Around the time when I was twelve, I found out that I didn’t have what it took to be a great swimmer. And also, I wasn’t enjoying it that much anymore, as I had been swimming since I was three. I therefore quit. My Dad then asked me if I wanted to try shooting before deciding what to do next. I tried it and was bitten by the shooting bug. The rest is history.
Talking about families – many people think you're related to the Mexican Olympic medalist, Jan Kurka. Is this true?
It may seem so, but we are not related at all. Although he and my grandfather, Libor Kurka, were both on the Czech national team.
You have four children with your husband, Matthew. Will any of them become a shooting hopeful and then a champion like their parents?
I have no idea. If I did, I would be a fortune teller (laughing). We try to bring our kids up to think for themselves and solve their own problems, to look at things from different points of view. If we manage to achieve that, then they will be good at whatever they do. It's entirely up to them to choose their own path. We sometimes wonder what that will be as well.
You've achieved your greatest success with an air rifle. Why did you choose that gun?
Well, it was quite simple. I was really good at it, progressed quickly and soon achieved some pretty exceptional results. So there was really no reason to switch to another one (laughing). At the time, I knew nothing about three-position shooting with rimfire rifles. My achievements were more about luck, apart from the standing position. I was really good at that one. It was only after I fully understood this discipline that I began to enjoy it and get a grip on it.
Were you tempted to switch to, say, a rimfire rifle after your superb results at the Olympics, and the Air Rifle World and European Championships? After all, your husband, Matthew Emmons, is an Olympic medalist in this category.
I did shoot rimfire rifles from the start but as I have already mentioned, it really wasn’t my discipline. It wasn’t until 2007 that I understood what it was all about. That was when I learned to use the slings, which is shooting from the kneeling and prone positions. That’s when things really took off. I was suddenly able to compete and even win the 3x20 three-position. So that makes competing and training a completely different kettle of fish. The highlight of my rimfire rifle career was a silver medal at the 2008 Summer Olympics.
After retiring from professional sports, many athletes carry on with their sporting activities - apart from spending more time with their families – for example they coach. How was it for you? There has been talk that perhaps you should assist in coaching the Czech biathlon team in shooting.
At first, I gave up shooting completely and got a job at an American company in Pilsen dealing with car parts. They were launching a wellness project for their employees. It was a fantastic experience for me, as I was in a completely new environment and met lots of great people. But then we became parents of two more girls, which had not really been in the cards. I went on maternity leave and then saw that things didn’t look very promising when I returned to work. A big family needs a lot of flexibility workwise, unless you live in a large city where you don’t have to think about logistics so much.
The Czech Biathlon Union offered me a position as a shooting assistant. There is some travelling involved but I can work from home a lot too, especially doing all the preparations. And also, it means working in a highly motivating environment with people who train really hard. That is very important to me. It is a tremendous motivation and great joy. So, I am able to use everything I have learned in my 15 years of professional shooting and apply it somehow to the biathlon, which is of course a much faster sport.
In 2019, you and your husband Matthew became the faces of Ceska zbrojovka for their CZ 457 rimfire rifle series. How do you feel about this role? Since your husband is an American, will you promote these rimfire rifles in the United States, too?
We have a very positive feeling about this and wouldn’t have done it if not fully on board. We are not the kind of people who yearn for their name to be connected with as many companies as possible. Our credo has always been to be in a relationship that makes sense for both sides and we must always trust the product.
For Ceska zbrojovka, the CZ 457 is an important step forward. It is a very flexible product that will appeal to many people. So we are happy to promote the CZ 457 anywhere and everywhere. It really is a versatile, high quality gun.
Taking into account your extensive experience, what do you think about the CZ 457 series? Do you feel it’s suitable for shooting sports?
Absolutely. That’s what makes it so appealing. I feel it to be a great choice for higher levels of shooting sports, but maybe not for the highest level. But one never knows. As soon as I held it in my hands, I was bowled over by the bolt and the trigger. They are just incredible. This is possibly the best bolt I have ever had the opportunity to try.
Which CZ guns have you used before?
To be completely frank – none. I have never made a secret of the fact that I am basically not interested in guns at all. It's really funny, but that’s how it is. I take my guns as tools that enable me to do a sport. I can provide care and maintenance, as well as adjust them and do some minor repairs. That’s about it. That’s the extent of my knowledge and interest.
With that said, the CZ 457 is a gun category that I have a close association with and it’s suitable for shooting sports. So for me, it is an exceptional sporting tool (laughing).