During his adolescent years shooting was a major part of Eric Hollen life, so was pushing physically to test the limits of his growing body. He had participated and enjoyed shooting firearms and playing sports of some form since he was a young boy. So it was no surprise he would carry these two passions into his adult life as well. Eric joined the U.S. Army where he became an Army Ranger in the 2/75 Ranger Regiment and quickly thereafter completely the Special Forces Qualification Course to become a member of the 2nd Bn. 10th Special Forces Group in Fort Carson.
Hollen’s future looked bright with a career as a member in an elite group dedicated to serving and protecting our country, but fate had a different plan for Hollen. One day on his horse farm in Tennessee Hollen’s life changed forever with a life-altering injury. His 6-foot 4-inch frame was now physically broken and so were his emotions. He needed time to deal with the major blow he had received. For the first time in his life, the man who knew no physical limitations was now in a wheelchair.
During that time, Hollen gained a new focus on life and a renewed interest in the shooting sports and education. “The sport of shooting helps me live in the moment. There comes a peace during practice, all the blunders made, failures past, accidents, injuries and nerve pain all are momentarily gone,” says Hollen. Since his accident, Hollen has also returned to school and is currently working towards his Master’s degree.
Hollen’s drive and determination helped him earn a spot on the USA Shooting Paralympics Team and the USA Shooting’s Paralympics Athlete of the Year Award in 2010 and 2011. He also made history in the 2012 IPC World Cup in Sydney by winning the highly sought slot for the Paralympics Games, making him the first U.S. Paralympics pistol shooter to qualify for the Games.
Hollen’s achievements on the range are impressive; accolades such as 2012 U.S. Paralympics Team Nominee, 2011 IPC Sydney, Silver and Bronze Medalist, 2011 IPC Approved Competition USA, Gold Medalist are only the tip of the awards which depict a new level of determination Hollen found after his accident. However, it is his commitment and focus off the range that truly sets this athlete apart.
Hollen could have easily given up after his injury and no one would have blamed him if he focused only on himself, but he did not. Thankfully, he found hope and a new focus by working with veterans to help them find success beyond their injury.
Today Hollen lives and trains in Colorado Springs, Colorado and works closely with the Care Coalition, a support provider for Special Operations soldiers injured in the line of duty. Hollen uses his life as a beacon of hope and as an example for other soldiers who have also experienced life-changing injuries.