There’s just something fun about 16-year-old Katelyn Abeln, and her joy of life allowed her to accomplish more things and see all new horizons in the 2017 season. She’s a fast-rising star within international pistol as she’s currently leading World Champs selection in Sport Pistol. Her show of personality and enthusiasm for her sport is as infectious as it is refreshing and we can’t wait to see where she goes from here. We caught up with the Georgia native to understand a little more about what makes her tick.
Please discuss how you got involved in the sport? I started shooting BB gun when I was 10 years old through 4-H. My dad was going to start an Air Rifle team for a boy aging out of BB gun and I wasn’t the right age to shoot air rifle in 4-H, so I tried Air Pistol instead and fell in love with it.
What drew you to pistol? The challenge drew me to pistol. When my dad told me I’d eventually be shooting one handed at 10 meters away I thought “Woah, this is going to difficult, but fun.” I only stayed on the bench a month before going straight to international standing—I was eager to get started. It was October and our state junior Olympics were in that January after and I really wanted to qualify for the National Junior Olympics.
What is your favorite thing about the sport? The camaraderie is my favorite thing about the sport—the fact that you can be best friends with the same people you’re competing against still blows my mind. It’s amazing how close the competitors get, even when they’re from different countries.
What is your least favorite thing about the sport? My least favorite thing about the sport is the lack of public awareness of it. Many people have no idea shooting is an Olympic sport.
How have you been able to come so far so fast? I’m not sure, but my mom always says if you enjoy what you do, you’ll always be successful at it. When you really enjoy what you’re doing, success just comes naturally.
What was the World Championship experience like for you? It was a really great experience. I got to meet a lot of amazing shooters from around the world and get to know some of the great shooters from the U.S. as well. The atmosphere was so different from the competitions in the U.S. and it was great to experience something different. Placing second in the Women’s Air Pistol team event and tying for first was a huge honor for me. Being able to stand on the podium representing Team USA was a dream come true.
Who has been the most instrumental person on your road to success? My father, who also happens to be my coach. He’s at almost every practice and has never missed any of my competitions. He’s constantly supporting me. He has been coaching me since I started pistol and always is trying to improve his coaching skills along with my shooting skills.
Who do you most look up to in your sport? I don’t look up to one person specifically. I do think highly of some of the former U.S. Olympians such as Brenda Silvia, Sandra Uptagrafft and Lydia Paterson. I also have high respect for Anna Korakaki, 2016 Olympic Sport Pistol gold medalist and Air Pistol bronze medalist.