An Olympic Medallist and World Champion in Rifle Shooting that has become the new face of the CZ 457 series
Matthew Emmons (b. 1981), an Olympic Medalist and World Champion in Rifle Shooting, has become the new face of the CZ 457 rimfire rifle series, together with his wife, Katerina. Katerina is also a brilliant Czech shooter. The American native has lived and worked in the Czech Republic for many years and has adopted this country as his homeland to such an extent that he conducted this interview in the Czech language.
Interview and bio
For shooters, the United States is the promised land. How did you get into sport shooting? In your wife’s family, sport shooting had already been embraced by her grandparents. Were you also influenced by your family where shooting is concerned?
What you say about the USA is certainly quite true, but it depends on the kind of shooting. For example, the Olympic disciplines are not as well-known in the USA as they are here in the Czech Republic. I grew up in a family where every male was a hunter. I have always enjoyed shooting, so I'm a hunter, too. But I never really knew that shooting could be a sport as well.
I got into sport shooting by accident. One of my Dad’s friends told us that some colleges in the States have shooting teams and grant scholarships. He asked me if I liked shooting. I said yes and so I began. He taught me the basics and then he found a club for me about an hour’s drive away from where I lived. That’s where I started training. So, the original motive was that I enjoyed it and I wanted to get a scholarship. The Olympics was not part of the picture at that time.
Do you remember your first gun?
Not really. No. It was probably an air rifle of some kind. But I do remember my first rimfire rifle – a Marlin Model 60 semi-automatic. It used to be my grandpa’s, so I was able to use it too. I must have been about six or seven years old.
You later achieved superb results with a rimfire rifle at the Olympic Games. Did you consider switching to a different discipline, like skeet?
Of course! If I were to choose again, I would definitely go for skeet. Or archery. Both are really fun, but not when it’s pouring down rain. (laughing)
You have four children with your wife, Katerina. Will any of them become a shooting hopeful and then a champion like their parents?
That’s a very good question. Our aim is to teach all of the kids to shoot and understand guns, which has a lot to do with safety. It’s fine with me if they want to compete, but I hope they will take up a different sport. Maybe golf, biathlon or baseball. We would like our children to enjoy playing and try out various sports and commit to none of them fully until they are at least 14 or 15. With that said, I hope at least one of them will share my love of hunting.
In 2019, you and your wife will help promote the new CZ 457 rimfire rifle series. How do you feel about this project?
I'm very happy to be working with Ceska zbrojovka and taking part in this project. The new CZ rimfire rifle is very well thought-out. I see a huge potential in it and quite a few opportunities. Both Katerina and myself are honored to be working with a Czech company that has such a long history of making excellent firearms.
In your opinion, what are the biggest benefits of the CZ 457 series?
I really like the new CZ 457 a lot. I like things that are simple, yet work very well. Its bolt and trigger are outstanding – very smooth and refined. And having the option to change the barrel and caliber is ideal. One can use the same gun at a shooting range, as well as when out hunting, provided the country’s laws permit. All you need to do is change the barrel and the stock, which takes about 5 minutes. It's very important for a gun to fit in hand nicely, be comfortable and shoot well. The CZ 457 has definitely made the grade.
Have you had an opportunity to use or try some CZ guns before?
Regrettably, I have very little personal experience with CZ guns. One of my close friends in the States is a police officer and carries a CZ 75. I haven’t shot with it but at least I've held it in my hands. It's a beautiful pistol and he swears by it. I also know a few people from various parts of the world who have used some old types of CZ rimfire rifles, but I don’t remember the exact models they had. They were sport shooters, or let’s say hobby shooters, and they all spoke very highly of their guns. Then I also have friends both in the US and the Czech Republic who hunt and use the CZ 550 or CZ 557 rifles. I've never heard any negative comments about them. They all say that they're very high quality rifles that shoot well. I certainly hope that I will have an opportunity in the future to gain additional experience with CZ guns.
Ceska zbrojovka make a wide range of firearms, from those for armed forces to those for hunting and sport shooting. Which one do you think you would relate to the most?
Hmm. Good question. I think I would go for a hunting rifle, so it would have to be the CZ 557.
You've lived in the Czech Republic for a number of years and your wife is a top shooter. How would you rate the standard of sport shooting in the Czech Republic? Do you think Czech shooters have access to high quality guns?
When we take into account the size of the country, and as a whole, the standard of shooting is good. In general, the conditions for training are very good – at least where sport shooting is concerned. There's a system of state assistance to clubs that is not so common in other countries.
And yes, Czech shooters have access to excellent guns. In this respect, both the best of them and the hopefuls are looked after very well. But shooting is a very expensive sport, and personally, I think that with some slight modifications, especially where accessories are concerned, the new CZ 457 could make an ideal gun for those who are starting with sport shooting and want to get a high quality rifle.