Grace and talent combine to make a champion in this rising star in the shooting sports, Caitlin Connor. After the hustle of a rigorous competition season, Caitlin took time to answer our questions and look ahead to her future in shooting.
When people ask you what you do, what do you say?
My name is Caitlin Connor and I am a member of the USA Shooting Shotgun Team. My discipline is Women’s Skeet and I am super lucky to be able to travel the world, shooting shotguns and doing what I love.
What's your history in the shooting sports and how did you get to where you are today?
I started competing in 2005 through my State 4-H program in Winnfield, Louisiana; from there, I focused my attention on Sporting Clays and quickly got involved with the Scholastic Clay Target Program (SCTP). In 2006, I had the opportunity to compete at the SCTP Nationals in Detroit, Michigan where I met Kimberly Rhode, a three-time Olympic medalist at that time. Kim informed me that shooting was an Olympic sport and explained the different disciplines. On the plane ride back to Louisiana, I decided I wanted to pursue my dreams of becoming an Olympic Gold medalist in Women’s Skeet. Kim Rhode is now my teammate, my friend and the toughest competitor on the field.
Congrats on being named "Best of September" female athlete for Team USA from the US Olympic Committee! You saw great results (#1) at the ISSF World Championships in South Korea, and some feel that it was the icing on the cake ... for winning this award, and being the first woman shooter ever to win this award. It sounds as though you fought your emotions during the final, and you talked to yourself throughout. What did you learn from this experience of being #1?
For me, the last couple of months have been emotional, to say the least, and I can’t even begin to describe how happy and blessed I am to have overcome my silver streak by winning World Championships and being named “female athlete” of the month for Team USA. This year was a very successful year for me and I’m so happy to have accomplished one of my biggest goals, but it makes me want to train even harder for next year and leading up to the 2020 Olympics. In my heart, I’ve always known I was capable of winning the World Championships, and now I want to do it again.
Also, are you still playing the fiddle?
I haven’t truly practiced playing the fiddle in quite a while, but to me it’s almost like riding a bike. I do miss it, so maybe I’ll dust it off sometime soon in my down time.
Do you consider yourself to be an ambassador for the shooting sports? Why?
I do consider myself to be an ambassador for the shooting sports. I really enjoy meeting new people wherever I go, and I really enjoy meeting younger kids at shooting events or shooting industry shows. A lot of people still aren’t aware that shooting is an Olympic Sport, so it’s really fun to inform and educate people about what we do. I really enjoy introducing younger kids to shooting, especially shotgun, because once you help kids break their first clay targets, they are so excited and hooked.
Have you encouraged or inspired other young women whom you know to try shooting?
I hope that I encourage or inspire other young women, I would absolutely love for our sport to grow and even though we are an individual sport I believe that all women should encourage and inspire each other.
What does the future hold?
I am currently on a much-needed break from shooting competitions, I plan on doing a little hunting and a little relaxing before the season starts up for 2019. My first competition next year is our Spring Selection in February of 2019, and things don’t slow down after that. Next year I will be competing at a couple of World Cups, National Championships and the first half of the USA Olympic Trials. My ultimate goal is making the 2020 Olympic Team, so I don’t plan on stopping until I get there.
Is there a particular discipline in shooting sports that you'd like to try?
I feel like I have tried most disciplines in shooting sports at least once; obviously, I really enjoy most all the shotgun sports. I need to practice a lot on the rifle and pistol side of things before jumping into a competition. However, I really think I would enjoy shooting a 3-Gun competition in my free time.
Usually, young people get tremendous support from family members ... what's your story?
I honestly would not be where I am today if it weren’t for the support from all my family. My parents support me through everything and I cannot thank them enough. I also must thank my church family back home in Louisiana, and my friends from all over the world; I am forever grateful for all their thoughts and prayers along the way. It’s comforting to know when I’m on the other side of the world I have a huge family that is praying for my safety and success.
What else do you like to do when you're not training or shooting (or playing the fiddle)?
I am currently working on my Master’s Degree in Public Administration with a concentration in Government Management through DeVry University. I have a part-time job at Sportsman’s Warehouse. With studying, shooting, traveling and work, I don’t have a lot of time for much else. However, I have a 5-year-old chocolate Labrador that keeps me busy too; his name is Jax and he is my biggest fan. He enjoys going to the shooting range, the dog park and he enjoys road trips. Wherever I go, he goes … unless it involves flying. Jax and I really enjoy hunting, mostly waterfowl and upland game birds. I would love to dive into big-game hunting in the near future. Jax will be getting a little sister and hunting buddy soon; she’s also a chocolate Labrador and her name is Annie. Other than that, I really enjoy staying at home watching Netflix.