Eric Hollen

"Do the hard things, and you will find success."

Meet Eric

Eric Hollen was born in February 10, 1965 in Johnson City, Tennessee. He has been shooting at "pretty much anything that went bang" since childhood. He was a patriotic man growing up and joined the military, first serving in the 2/75 Rangers (also known at the "Rangers," they are one of the most elite and specially-trained American Special-Ops forces) and then in the 10th Special Forces Group (an airborne spec-ops group tasked with operations in the middle east). After his service, weighing in at 230 pounds and being 6'4" tall, Hollen's back was shattered in an accident at a horse farm in which a tractor overturned and shattered his back. Until this incident, he has had no physical limitations; "When i pushed on something, it usually moved. I liked that," Hollen reported. Returning to East Tennessee University, Hollen was granted access to one of the school's old shooting rooms, where he was taught to focus. He eventually moved once again to the University of California and then the University of California, where he is currently studying to major in Social Work Counseling. He hopes to provide injured veterans the means to find success in their new way of life.
Eric only has one relative known to the public. Payton is Hollen's 13 year old daughter. At a young age, she showed a talent for skiing, Eric's only publically-known relative is his 13 year old daughter, Payton, who is training in Colorado to be an olympic skier. However, in a picture taken by Sergeant Tyrone Marshall Jr, it is shown he has a wife, one more daughter, and a mother.

Values

Hollen reported on September 6, 2012, that he has no regrets since his injury. "It was an awesome opportunity. When you suffer a catastrophic, life-changing injury like a lot of soldiers have, myself included, there's a time when that injury kind of defines you. Sprots gives you an opportunity to shift gears from disability to ability, and that's what this sport has done for me. It's given me a chance to redefine myself", he reported.
Hollen also said that he would not change the injury given the chance. Because of the injury, Payton Hollen has an opportunity to train as a junior olympic ski racer in the Olympic training center with her father.
Hollen also views the USA jacket as important. To him, it shows that he is able to serve his country once again.It symbolizes a newfound purpose to his life; it shows that he has pursued a new opportunity to serve his nation other than through the military.

The Sport

Shooting, at first glance, seems like an easy sport where all one must do is aim and fire. However, there is much more to shooting than aiming and firing.
Eric Hollen has been shooting since he was a boy, and believes the challenge to shooting lies in one's ability to focus.
During Hollen's stay at ETSU, the college granted him access to an unused shooting room. Hollen reported the sound of shot-puts from the room above drove him mad, yet gave him the valuable training of concentration that would help him.

After the Injury

As with any traumatic, life-changing incident, Hollen met with the five stages of grief; anger, denial, bargaining, and depression hit him one by one until he was able to accept what happened to him. Hollen, who had been a Spec Ops ranger, reported; "I had been scared before, but there is a difference between being scared and afraid. And this was the first time in my life i was truly afraid." Hollen was both mentally and physically paralyzed.
Despite this, Eric did not dwell on the negative aspects of his injury. While Hollen could not yet view the disability as an opportunity, Hollen, with a positive outlook, went through 18 months of occupational therapy to be able to function. "Maybe I wasnot going to be able to live my life as I had planned, but when does life ever go as planned?" He said. His denial led to his focus on a full recovery. He used his military mindset to cope with the disability; to work through adversity, to refuse defeat, and to complete the mission. With time, Hollen realized he would have to accept defeat.
Upon accepting the disability as his disability, Hollen moved back home to Tennessee and attended the University of Tennessee, where school and shooting became his new focuses. He set up the Care Coalition, a program that aims to help injured veterans to find success in their disabilities. He hopes that veterans, such as himself, can find opportunity through their disabilities instead of despair.

Awards and Medals

Eric Hollen won the 2010 USA Shooting's Paralympic Athlete of the Year medal.
In 2011, Eric Hollen placed 2nd overall in the IPC Shooting world cup in Sydney, Australia. He won medals in both "Men's 10m air pistol" and "Mixed 50m free pistol," qualifying him for the 2012 London olympic game and placing him in second place in shooting overall.
He was also awarded with the Fair Play Award at the 2010 IPC World Championchips.

Social Interaction

Following his disability, Eric Hollen continued to live life normally, despite the fact he was crippled for life. His daily routine shall never be the same, but he acts the same as everybody else. He continues to live with his family in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Hollen gets along very well with his coach, Bob Foth and his ten teammates; Nick, Michael, Daniel, Bruce, Thomas, Joshua, Viktor, Andrea, Danielle, and Kisha.
Eric Hollen does not tour the states to speak with anybody regarding his injury. Instead, Hollen spends his spare time practicing in Colorado with his daughter, Payton, who aspires to be an Olympic Skier.

Conclusion

Paralympians gain nowhere near the recognition that they should. Athletes are judged by the medals they won, not the path they took to get there. Many paralympians trump far over the physical and mental threshold of many olympians and athletes, and Eric Hollen is no exception. Sure, shooting may not be much more difficult in a wheelchair than it is standing; Eric Hollen actually chose to become a paralympiad in shooting because it is evenly matched. The true triumph in Eric Hollen's practice is the path he took to get there.

Eric was raised with no disabilities. He was a strapped, well-built farm boy, trained in the military as a spec-ops trooper. His world was completely turned upside down after a tractor shattered his back. The drastic change was so bad he denied the fact he would never recover. Yet, after facing the harsh reality of its severity, managed to train himself for 18 months to the point where his shattered back could handle the phenomenally large recoil of many varieties of guns. Eric maintained a military mindset throughout his "recovery." Hollen faced his advesary head on, refusing to accept defeat or failure. While a full recovery was never a mission he could complete, he succeeded in the next best thing. Through despair, Hollen seized an opportunity. Through sweat and tears, Hollen began to serve his country once more, not as a soldier, but as a competitor in the Paralympics. While he may not bring home the gold, he brings home pride.