Elin Åhlin has her tactic ready for a year full of championships: "To be good at competing, you must compete"

Elin Åhlin has been called both Shooting Queen and Swedens by far best female rifle shooter - and she has a price cabinet to show for these big words. We met Elin, who in the beginning of her career was a part of Normas group with young shooters, for an interview where she shared her proactive tactic that has led to her success. She also shares her three best tips on how to become a better rifle shooter.

Inherited interest in the sport

In terms of results, the sport shooter Elin Åhlin had a season she will late forget thanks to the bronze medal at the Nordic Championships and the win, spiced with a Swedish record, at the European Cup final in Switzerland. Now she looking forward to a new year full of championships – and her tactic is already set.
– To prepare myself for the tough competitions that are at the championships, I will compete as much as possible, she says.

It may be a worn-out cliché in a sports context, that the entrance into the sport happened due to natural reasons, but in Elin’s case it would almost be a misdemeanor not to mention it. She usually says herself that she basically grew up on the shooting range. The shooting interest came from Elin's grandfathers and then continued to her mother and father.
– Me and my brother have always had the choice to do what we want but for me there was nothing I wanted to do besides shooting. When I was five years old, I fired my first shot with an air rifle and since that I’ve been stuck, she says.

These days are hectic for Elin who combines her shooting career with working full time as a finance and payroll administrator. The days vary depending on what time of the year it is.
– During October-April I have a calmer period competition wise, so it contains mostly of office work combined with basic training, shooting and physique. I also do some field shooting so I still have some competitions during that period. Between May-September is the high season for track shooting so during that period I’m away on competition basically every weekend and in between weekends, I work, says Elin.

Elin Ahlin sportshooter

Hard to value shooting memories

When Elin gets the question about her favorite shooting memory, she hesitates quite long before she says...
– I've experienced so many great shooting memories in my career. I have a hard time putting them against each other since every memory have its own story. Regardless of its a smaller competition or a big championship, I’m proud of my performance.

She can admit though, that there are two performances from last season that she’s a little bit extra proud to have accomplished. The Nordic Championship in 6,5 mm is one of them.
– Ever since the first time I was allowed to participate in the Nordic Championship as a junior, I've dreamt of a medal in the position competition.

At the Championship in 2019, Elin fell on the finish line and ended up on fourth place but during the Championship 2021 she got her revenge and received the bronze medal.
– It really was a dream come true and I’m so proud over how I acted and performed that whole day.

The European Cup Final in sport shooting 300 m in Switzerland is also a competition she doesn't mind looking back at.
– At that competition I had performed really well during the initial position shootings, knee and laying down. During the last shots standing up I had to work very hard with the tension which arised due to my good performance, but I had decided before hand to give it all until the last shot, she says and continues...

– When I was at the last shot, I really wanted to finish with a good round, as I'd done with the previous 119 shots. So it took me about 10 tries and a total of 5 minutes to pull the trigger, but such a happiness when I saw the 10 showing on the monitor. My total score led to a win and a new Swedish record which I'm very proud of, but I'm mostly proud over how a carried out and completed the competition according to plan I had set beforehand.

Elin Ahlin sportshooting

- What has been your recipe for success?
– I always say that the only one I can affect is myself and as long as I feel like I've done and given everything I have, I will be satisfied and proud over my performance. I can only perform my best at the competitions. If I do my best and there still is three or ten other shooters that's better than me, I've still done everything I could. I can't be disappointed over that.

Elin explains that she always used to put too much pressure on herself during competitions. Something that's been troublesome from time to time.
– My first year as a senior was a very tough one. I shot really well on smaller competitions, but on bigger competitions when it was more at stake, I shot really bad.

A new world of shooting

During that tough season she was a part a group for young shooters that NORMA had put together and that eventually gave them the possibility to participate at European Cup competitions.
– It was an opportunity to shot alongside shooters that I followed and was inspired by so it was a huge deal for me. During that year of European Cup competitions, a whole new world of shooting opened up for me and somewhere there, it all turned.

She explains that she learned that the best way to get somewhere is to shoot for yourself.
– The only one who can, or should, put pressure on me is myself. When I started to think like that, a lot of weight dropped off my shoulders. I shoot because I enjoy the sport and because I want to. That was the key for me.

elin Ahlin sportshooting champion

- You also adorn the SvD-medal, something that is considered a big honor. Can you describe what that means?
– The SvD-medal adorns every other year by a shooter and a coach/leader and 2020 I got the honor to adorn the medal. It was nothing I had thought about or expected so when I received the news, I was very surprised but of course very happy and honored. The motivation to why I was chosen was that I am an all-round shooter that combines multiple types of rifle shooting, and to be seen in that way is a great honor for me.

- Speaking of that, in other interviews you've said that we have a culture in Sweden that you can only be good at one thing, but you don’t agree with that. For example, you prefer to combine short range and rifle 300m right?
– Correct. I don't believe that you must specialize in one field to become the best. I started with the national side of shooting, mainly 300 m, and that was where I laid the foundation for the shooter I am today. The international part (both 300 m and short range), which I started with later, complemented my previous skills and made me a better shooter. I strongly believe that I wouldn't be the shooter I am today if it wasn't for all the different parts, they complete me. Therefor I think it's a shame when shooters feel they need to specialize at a young age. I believe that as long as you enjoy several different fields, you will develop from them and benefit in the long run. So no, don't be afraid to combine the rifle shootings different fields. You can do anything you want to.

- What is the next big goal?
– This shooting year contains a whole lot of championships that I'm aiming for. On the national side we have the Nordic Championships in Norway for 6,5 mm shooting. There I'm already qualified through my medal from the last championship. On the international side we have both the European championship and the World Cup this summer/fall, which I hope to go to.

- How do you prepare for that?
– To prepare for the tough competitions there is on championships, I will go to as many competitions as possible. My philosophy is: to be good at competing, you must compete. So that is what I will do. Once at the championships, my goal is always to do my best and nothing else. That is the only thing I can affect.

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Elin Åhlins three best tips on how to become a better rifle shooter:

As mentioned previously, Elin used put too high pressure on herself. Especially during big competitions at the beginning of her career. After a while she learned the tools to be able to succeed even when it mattered the most. These are her three best tips on how you can improve your rifle shooting:

  • 1. Practice your shooting positions so you can find them in the back of your core. It's easier to handle the nerves that can occur during competitions if you feel confident in your positions.
  • 2. Compete a lot and learn to enjoy it. You will still get nervous but if you compete a lot you will learn to handle those emotions.
  • 3. Never give up. Ups and downs come with the sport. Don't forget, nothing is settled until the last shot is fired.

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