September 2020 Member Spotlight

Membership Spotlight: Katie Zaun


National Junior Rifle Team Member Katie Zaun has been shooting competitively since she was nine years old. She is a current member of the USA Shooting National Junior Rifle Team and most recently made the finals at Air Rifle Trials Part 2 back in February of this year. 


USA Shooting: Let’s start at the top-how did you get started in shooting rifle?  

Katie Zaun: My brother started BB gun at a community center and my coach always starts athletes out in BB gun. I wanted to do what my brother did, so I tried BB gun when I turned eight, and a year later when I was nine I started air rifle. My coach brought me up to smallbore when I was 10 or 11 years old.  


USAS: Do you still train with the same coach that started you off? 

KZ: Yes, I do! His name is Dan Gertz. He's been around and I hope he sticks around!  


USAS: Tell me a little bit more about what you’ve done between 10-11 years old to now 

KZ: Okay, I have to brag just a little first Junior Olympics for air rifle I was in third grade which now is kind of crazy to think about. Three years in a row I went [to Junior Olympics] for air rifle, and the fourth year I qualified for smallbore which was fifth grade. That fourth year, I won double gold in my category of J3, and I did that for another two years for that same categorydefinitely made it a competition for myself because I wanted that three-peat. 

When I was 11, I made my first air rifle finals for juniors and was obviously using my junior air rifle, so I was a little out of place there.  

I think it was 2016 when I made my first Junior National Team, and I made the team by qualifying in Camp Perry with the 3P Nationals. Ever since then I did what I needed to do to stay on the Junior National Team. The National Team is a big goal of mine.  

Two years ago at Nationals I scored high enough to go to my first World Cup in Korea where I won a team bronze medal, which was crazy! I qualified a few more times to go to IndiaMunich, and Junior World Cup and Brazil...and that was all in a year, it was like bam, bam, bam! 


USAS: Before I ask you about your above-mentioned goal of making the National Team, I want to hear about that year of traveling and competing internationally. What was your most memorable match 

KZ: Its just like anything you can imagine and more, going to an international match. I had no idea what to expect, but I just wanted to be there so bad and I wanted to compete to the best of my abilities. That first time was at World Champs and that was probably the most memorable –not only because it was my first time [competing internationally] and I won a medal, but I met so many people. 

I remember thinking this is crazy of me to thinkbut on the bus ride to the range I told my mom I just wanted to get a medal. At that time, I didn’t realize just how much I was asking for. It’s no easy competition and that’s something I wasn’t prepared for...idefinitely helped me train harder and become more competitive going to international matches. 


USAS: When you say you've learned to train harder and be more competitive based on those experiences, can you tell me about any specifics?  

KZ: Iwasn’t necessarily anything physical, but more mental stuff. It's just like I never took strides to improve my mental game in shooting, but ever since then I've been working on that and can tell a difference.  


USAS: Your canvas suit...did you pick those colors? I love being able to pick you out of a crowd! What inspired the green suit? Are you going to stick with it?  

KZ: I did pick those colors...and I probably won’t do it again. The first time I put it on, I had my coach here at home look at me and he asked if I picked out those colors myself. When I said yes he said okay I won't say anything again... 

Other people have made funny comments to me, and you know what, I don’t mind sticking out. I'm embracing it now! That and the red really can't miss me 


USAS: You said one of your goals is to make the National Rifle Team. Tell me what that goal means to you. 

The national team is like the biggest team you can get on (in the United States at least)I'm on the Junior Team now and I get a lot of support so I can only imagine the amount of support I would have on the National Team. To me, the Junior Team is just a glimpse of what I feel like is out there.  

I honestly feel like I'm already on the National Team in a way because of all the support Dan Durben (National Rifle Coach) gives me along with everyone else in the community. I dont feel any lesser than other people. In a sense, I dont mind not being on the National Team because so many people are there to help...but I can't wait to work towards having that additionatitle behind my name! 


USAS: Tell me how you balance being a member of the National Junior Team with school, other sports, and your personal life. 

KZ: Right now, I'm stepping off a little bit in shooting because there are no matches and school has started and I also play volleyball. I wanted to make sure I had time for all of that before I really jump back in, but I’m still shooting.  

In the past I would always hate when people would want to talk to me about shooting because it’s just weird to explain to someone who doesn’t understand. But now I embrace it and just know that this is what do, this is my life, and I can't change it or turn away from it. Competitive shooting is always with me, and I always want it to be with me. 


USAS: Let's talk about the finals aAir Rifle Trials Part 2 earlier this year. How big of a deal was that and how were you feeling?  

KZ: From the first day of that match I knew I didn’t have a big change to make the Olympic team because first part of trials was not great. My hopes were not extremely high going into it, but I wanted to perform well. The first day I scored a personal best and that made me ecstatic. On the second day I just wanted to do good as well. It’s hard to explain because I understand how hard it is to achieve another personal best the next day. Really, I just wanted to shoot good in the finals and I did the best I could, and I fought hard. It was such a good learning experience and nice to have under my belt.  


USAS: What advice would you give anyone who wants to get started in the sport but maybe doesn’t know where to begin? 

KZ: I would tell them to reach out to anybody associated because there's not a single person in this sport who will not have their arms open wide. Just try it. It's such a neat sport and it's just so cool to talk to people about. It’s also a good skill to have--you'll be surrounded by good peopleIt's just a good environment.