I was at the Michigan subgun match because I wanted to do something with my registered fullauto Uzi more interesting than “busting dirt” at the local gravel pit. A submachine gun competition sounded like the challenge I needed.
ALTHOUGH I WAS NEW to the sport, the sport itself is not new. Organized submachine gun competitions have been around since at least the 1980s. The events, while never as well known as other “run and gun” sports such as IPSC, have maintained a mix of die-hard supporters and new blood. The basic requirement is for a fullauto-capable gun that ﬁres a pistol-caliber cartridge.
The longest continuously running SMG match in existence is the Knob Creek Range National Subgun Competition held in West Point, Ky., each April and October. The match is part of a larger event at the Knob Creek Range that includes a machine gun shoot, huge gun show, and other competitions. Shooters from all over the country compete in what has become the defacto national title match for subgun shooters.
The KCR match has evolved over the years: The early match format featured a single long stage where shooters moved along a predesignated path while engaging targets along the way. Over time the match changed to a more efficient multistage format that allowed match directors to work in different challenges, while also being quicker to reset. The original format still survives as the “Jungle Walk” side match.
The match has also changed to keep up with technology. The advent of “slow ﬁre” kits for the MAC series of SMGs offered advantages to seasoned shooters and also made it easier for new shooters to get into the game by making those less expensive guns competitive. These changes are reﬂected by alterations in course design, rules, and how guns are classiﬁed for the match.
THE MATCH FORMAT will seem familiar to anyone who has shot in an IPSC or 3-gun competition. Most matches are multistage with three to ﬁve shooting positions in each stage. The targets are a mix of steel, other reactive targets such as bowling pins, and paper targets. Obstacles, barricades, and “no shoot” targets are used to round out the course. The round count can be as low as 150 rounds for a good shooter, and up to over 500 rounds for those of us who miss a lot.
One difference is that most matches require that the gun be ﬁred only in full-auto mode for the whole match. This rewards those shooters with good trigger manipulation skills who can ﬁre short bursts or even single shots on demand. Although this is the best way to shoot most targets, the shooter might be instructed that certain target arrays can only be shot with a single long burst. This beneﬁts those who are also good at keeping the gun on target while ﬁring a long burst or even a full mag dump.
Scoring is based on the shooter’s time and modiﬁed by penalties for things such as missed targets, insufficient hits on paper targets, lower scoring hits on paper targets, and hits on “no shoot” targets.
Many matches feature scenarios or an overriding theme. One scenario at a recent KCR match required competitors to try to rescue a downed pilot in enemy territory and included a stage with a large helicopter mock-up as a shooting position.
At the KCR match, guns are divided into classes based on their method of operation and sighting system. The classes are Open Bolt/Iron Sights for guns like the Uzi or MAC with stock sights, Open Bolt/Optics for those same guns if they mount any type of optical sight, Closed Bolt/Iron Sights for guns like the MP-5 or 9mm M-16 and Closed Bolt/Optics, for those guns when they mount optics.
Other matches may use an older system that divides guns up by date of design (pre- or post-1945), open or closed bolt, sight system (irons or optics), or rate of fire (below or above 900 rounds per minute) or they may use a different classification system altogether.
Safety is paramount at all matches. Any shooter who has an accidental discharge or breaks the 180-degree rule, pointing the barrel in an unsafe direction, is immediately disqualiﬁed. One special rule commonly used is that shooters are not allowed to backtrack once they have moved even a single step forward. This is to reduce the chance of a shooter tripping while holding a loaded full-auto ﬁrearm.
THE BEST WAY TO GET STARTED with subgun matches is to enter a competition like the Jungle Walk side match at Knob Creek. This is because the range will actually rent you a submachine gun for the match. For only $40 you get a Uzi or 9mm M-16 and 50 rounds of ammo. You then get to take a nice walk in the woods while looking for 18 swinging steel targets that are usually rusty and hard to spot. A range officer follows you the whole time and once you’ve completed the course he’ll help you safe the gun, tell you how many targets you hit and your time. The winner each day is the shooter who hit the most targets (usually all 18) in the fastest time.
Aside from the Jungle Walk, or a really good friend who will loan you his gun, the other way to get started in submachine competition is to jump in with both feet and buy your own gun.
While all the details of how to legally buy a submachine gun are beyond the scope of this article, machine gun ownership is legal in most states, and the required ATF paperwork and procedures are really not that difficult to complete.
The bad news is that the guns aren’t cheap. That is because private citizens can only own those machine guns that were manufactured and registered with the ATF before May 19, 1986. Since this limits the available supply, the law of supply and demand has kicked in over the past 30-plus years, and prices have steadily risen in that time.
Although the initial expense may shock you, an entry level but still competitive SMG can be obtained for just a bit more than what it would take to purchase a complete three-gun setup. By the time you add up the costs of a quality AR, optics, an auto-loading shotgun, a handgun, slings, mag pouches, and other gear, you aren’t that far off from the price of a MAC series SMG and a slow ﬁre conversion kit.
Of course, if you have the cash, other guns such as the Uzi, MP-5, Sterling, Thompson, etc., are out there and are suitable for competition. Aside from the gun, all you really need are extra magazines, mag pouches, and lots and lots of ammo! ASJ
Editor’s note: The author wants to thank Paul Winters and Todd L. for their help with this article.
What makes this gaudy total even more impressive is that in an age of overspecialization, she’s achieved her competitive milestones across ﬁve diﬀerent shooting disciplines and multiple event types.
BORN INTO A SHOOTING FAMILY in McDonough, Ga., a community in the Atlanta metropolitan area, Duﬀ didn’t immediately follow in the footsteps of her father, a competitive shooter in his own right. “I didn’t take to it early on,” she told me recently, “even though I grew up on the range with my dad, my mom and my brother. I’d shoot on the range with them, but didn’t feel the need to compete until I was about 15.”
Her dad was involved in cowboy action shooting at the time, so that’s where she began too. The urge to compete may have come a bit late for Duﬀ, whose only experience with organized sports was as a cheerleader, but the timing was clearly right.
“I just found my niche,” she recalled. “Team sports weren’t for me, but I found something that I was good at and could grow and get better at. I just needed to ﬁnd it on my own instead of feeling forced to do it.”
After her initial success, Duﬀ began to contemplate a possible career as a shooter.
“From the moment I shot and competed, I knew that shooting was what I wanted to do, but I didn’t know how that could be possible. You weren’t allowed sponsors in cowboy action shooting. It wasn’t anything that you could make a living at; it was simply for fun.”
Her potential for making a living at shooting took a positive turn about ﬁve years later when her local range held a Steel Challenge event. She decided to give the new competition format a try.
“(At ﬁrst), I would go and shoot it with my single-action revolvers, but that’s when I was exposed to 1911s and Glocks and all of these semiauto ﬁrearms. It was a whole new world, and that’s where I saw that people had sponsors and could make something out of that.”
Again, the timing was right for Duﬀ to take another career step. Julie Golob had left Team Glock, and the company hired Duﬀ and fellow CAS shooter Randi Rogers. But even before she went to work for Glock, the U.S. oﬃces of which are based near Atlanta, she had come to truly appreciate her local roots.
“I was very fortunate growing up in Georgia,” Duﬀ said. “We had such an amazing group of world champion shooters, so I started with watching the best of the best. I would watch and emulate what they did, and that truly helped my foundation as a shooter and gave me a boost. Instead of having to learn that along the way, I learned it immediately.”
But those talented homegrown shooters weren’t the only positive inﬂuences on Duﬀ’s professional development, a point the current champion is quick to acknowledge.
“When I came into the modern shooting sports, the ladies who were killing it at the time were Kay Miculek and Lisa Munson and Julie Golob and Athena Lee, and that’s what I wanted to do. When I say I set my goal to beat them, I mean that with the utmost respect because they were the best. I wanted to be at their level or better. It took me a while, because they’re so good, but eventually I made my way into the sport and found a place among the other top ladies.”
Shooting multiple disciplines over the past decade has enabled Duﬀ to identify how to train and what to work on. And for her, it is all about focusing on what she considers to be the basics, and then migrating those skills from event to event.
“The common denominator across all of it is sight alignment and trigger control,” she said. “If you can manage that, then the rest is just going to come with repetition, muscle memory and physical ﬁtness. Shooting is shooting, whether you’re going super fast at Steel Challenge, whether you’re going super slow but being extremely accurate at Bianchi, or USPSA where it’s a mix of both, but you add in running, and a physical aspect. You still have to line your sights up and not jerk the trigger.”
“When I started shooting Bianchi,” she adds, “it was like nothing else I do on any other platform. I had to learn how to control my trigger control. I can get away with a lot more in Steel Challenge and USPSA, but in Bianchi, you can’t get away with anything. You’ve got a 4-inch circle, and if you’re not hitting it, it’s very, very obvious.
“I also had to learn to slow down. Everything I’ve shot is based oﬀ of speed, and in Bianchi, even though there’s a time limit, it’s like a calendar year compared to what I do. I had to learn to use the time that is given so that I don’t get rushed or feel like I have to shoot six shots as fast as I can because that’s what I do in the other sports. It was a big learning process for me, but trigger control transfers over to everything else and just makes me a better shooter in all the other divisions.”
DUFF’S WORK ETHIC has paid oﬀ in many ways. As the ﬁrst female athlete and professional shooter to earn USPSA Grand Master status, she ﬁnds herself in a position that few people of either gender have attained, and this has enabled her to realize a personal goal that extends beyond the sport and into the fabric of our culture.
“I don’t want to be known as just a good female shooter,” she said. “I want to be known as one of the best shooters in our sports. Gender shouldn’t matter. If I’m putting up scores that are right there with the top guys, then it shouldn’t matter if ‘lady’ is checked next to my name or not. I hope that some of the things that I’ve accomplished or done throughout my career, and what I’ll continue to do, will help open the door for other ladies. This might be a man’s sport, but we’re making our own place in it.”
That door remains wide open, and this past decade has seen a large spike in participation by both women and youth in the shooting sports. As part of her role as the captain of Team Taurus, a position she has held for ﬁve years, Duﬀ helped develop the Taurus Young Guns shooting program. Participants in this program, referred to as “shooting ambassadors” by the Florida-based ﬁrearms manufacturer, must meet stringent requirements on and oﬀ the range, and Duﬀ knows more than a little about the navigating the exhausting cycle of working and waiting while incrementally inching to the top echelon of the sport she loves.
“There’s always a new generation coming up that’s going to take the place of who is there now,” she said. “But it takes time and hard work to get to that spot. Some new competitors who have talent beat themselves up so bad if they don’t go out and win every match right away. I tell them, ‘You’ve got to put your time in. You have talent, but so do your competitors. You’re shooting against the best, and those of us who are on the top put our time in, and it’s our time right now.’”
Because she’s already walked several miles in their moccasins, her heartfelt career advice to upcoming shooters rings true, and it always starts with an admonition she tells herself every day: love what you do.
“It’s like in any other sport,” she said, “If you overload someone at that age, they just get burnt out. I tell them to set goals that are realistic in the sense that you will be able to accomplish (them). I see nothing wrong with setting a goal that is over the moon, because I’ve done that myself. But along with that big ‘shoot for the stars’ goal, I’ve got other goals that are like a stairway, and that will show success and progress along the way so that you don’t get frustrated or lose interest.”
“I’ve seen so many talented kids start, and then within two years, they’re gone, and you never see them again. It’s a hard thing to sustain for a long time if you’re not making a conscious eﬀort to take care of the reason you started this, and that’s because you love it.”
As she moves into her second decade as a professional shooter, Duﬀ acknowledges that she’s had to take her own advice about training and competitions, and has adopted a more targeted strategy.
“Earlier on in my shooting career,” she said, “I felt I had to be at every match that was on the schedule, and that was also kind of how I trained. I had to be out on the range, and if I didn’t shoot a thousand rounds a day, I didn’t feel like I’d accomplished anything. Now I’ve learned to train smarter and not harder, and that also (applies) to the matches I’m going to attend. I have to make sure I’m not overloading my schedule to where I’m burned out by the time I get to the major championships, but yet that I’m still motivated and able to prepare.”
Despite her many accolades, Duﬀ keeps her sights set on the future, and she has some lofty goals to achieve before, as she puts it, “my day in the sun is up.”
“I want to win an IPSC World Shoot in Open Division,” she shared. “That’s my main goal right now. Once I’ve done that, I want to look at spending more time in other disciplines. I made Grand Master in Open, and I want to make Grand Master in other divisions.”
MIXING BUSINESS WITH PLEASURE can be a combustible combination, but Duﬀ has the mental discipline to have made it work for more than a decade.
“When I made the decision to make a career out of this, I realized that things would change taking something I love and turning it into work. I’ve always told myself, the day that I wake up and don’t want to go to the range, or I don’t have that drive to go out and be the best, then that’s when I need to ﬁnd something else to do. But I haven’t had that yet.”
Many people use the shooting sports to relax and recalibrate, but professionals such as Duﬀ, whose lives revolve around their skill and dexterity with ﬁrearms, must compartmentalize their range time on a daily basis depending on the situation at hand.
“When I’m in training mode and have matches I’m preparing for,” she said, “it’s a completely diﬀerent mindset than going out to the range with my dad. When I’m training, it’s all business. I have a goal, and my goal is to go and win and be the best. And I have certain things that I do at the range to prepare myself for that.”
Long known for her drive to master new shooting disciplines, she is currently enjoying a self-imposed oﬀ-season, although for someone as competitive as Duﬀ, the term “oﬀseason” is relative.
“I’m trying to learn skeet shooting,” she shared with a laugh, “and I’m absolutely horrible at it. I realize we can’t all be good at everything we do, but when it comes to shooting, that’s a hard thing for me to grasp. I’ve shot so much, and I’ve succeeded at so much, that now when you’re telling me that I’m not supposed to aim at the target that I’m shooting at, I can’t comprehend that … It just drives me mad.”
“I stood in one position on the skeet range with my dad the other day,” she continued, “and I said ‘I’m not leaving until I can master this spot.’ I shot two boxes of shells in that one spot. But it’s a new challenge. I still love to go out and be on the range, and smell the gun smoke, and share and have those memories with my dad. He shot his ﬁrst clean 25 round of skeet yesterday, and I was able to be there with him to do that.”
Another thing that helps keep her life on an even keel is spending time with her husband Matt – they met on the set of the Friends of the NRA show they cohosted – and her friends. But when her internal stress dial threatens to hit 11, she has a sureﬁre way to turn down the noise.
“I love horses,” she said. “I have a couple of them, and that’s my getaway. I go down to our farm and just hop on my horse and go. I just enjoy trail riding, ﬁnding new places, being out in nature. Something about a horse is so calming. It just relaxes me.”
Duﬀ works as an ambassador for her many sponsors, including Taurus, Hornady, Leupold, Blackhawk and several others, giving her one more set of priorities to balance. She tries to do as much of the nonevent sponsorship work as she can in her oﬀseason, so it doesn’t conﬂict with her training, or, as she puts it, “the actual reason they’ve hired me.” Behind the scenes, she is active with personal eﬀorts to support veterans and law enforcement oﬃcers, and especially assisting and encouraging female shooters.
“I enjoy helping women get into the shooting sports,” she said. “There’s something about taking a lady to the range who is just terriﬁed of ﬁrearms, but who wants to take the plunge. Just experiencing her ﬁrst time shooting with her, and then seeing the excitement, the release of fear, the self-empowerment. It’s incredible.”
As you would imagine, Duﬀ’s annual SHOT Show appearance schedule is an extremely busy one, and she wants to make sure that everyone from her sponsors to her fans get the time they deserve.
“From day one to day four, starting when the doors open, every hour on the hour, I’m in a diﬀerent booth. But I enjoy it. I’m a social person, so when I go to shows like this, I’m able to talk to people and visit, and hear their stories, or share some of mine. So even though it is exhausting for four days straight – with that many people in one place, the energy just drains you – it’s part of the job, and I enjoy it for the most part.”
THE OUTDOOR INDUSTRY is relatively small on a national scale, and Duﬀ often considers how she can help build bridges to the mainstream world.
“I’m always thinking, ‘How can we make our pond bigger?’ I’m trying to ﬁnd opportunities, because if you look at the number of people who own ﬁrearms or who hunt or who exercise their Second Amendment rights, that’s bigger than the number of people who play golf, or the number of people who do some of the other sports.”
Still, not being readily recognized by those outside of the shooting world can be a source of amusement.
“I love it when people ask (what I do) where I’m not recognized as ‘Jessie the shooter.’ If I could snap a picture of every person when I answer, I’d have quite the little photo book. It’s a great conversation starter, that’s for sure. Sometimes you get the occasional person who doesn’t have the same viewpoint as I do, but it either opens the door for a conversation – you can learn something about somebody else – or it makes for a nice quiet plane ride.”
But whatever Duﬀ chooses to do, with or without a gun in her hand, she’ll give it her all. That’s the only way she knows how to live.
“I’m extremely competitive. I can’t do anything mediocre. I have to give it everything I have. Otherwise, it’s not worth doing, in my opinion. That’s just what drives me. I still have things I’ve yet to accomplish, and I know that I will. It’s just a matter of time. And knowing that there are younger shooters out there – and some of them have the drive that I did – that’s what keeps pushing me to keep going.” ASJ
If you look up “cobalt” on the periodic chart of the elements, you’ll ﬁnd it listed at number 27, right between iron and nickel.
But if you did a word search for “cobalt” shortly after the 3GN Nationals concluded earlier this year, your results ﬁeld would have been full of number ones.
When the dust at the nationals had settled – or more accurately, after Hurricane Matthew’s torrential rains had ﬁnally subsided – Team Cobalt members wore national championship crowns in three diﬀerent divisions; unlimited, practical and factory.
Those results are a challenge for anyone, but they are highly unusual for a competitive team running a gun made by a company that didn’t even manufacture them a couple of years ago.
But at Cobalt Kinetics, being unusual has been a badge of honor from the very beginning.
“We went to SHOT Show before we started the company,” said Skylar Stewart, vice president of the St. George, Utah-based business (cobaltkinetics.com), “and we got so sick of seeing black riﬂes. There were lots of exciting things in bolt guns and shotguns and pistols, but the AR15 got stuck in this pseudo-military styling, and no one was really pushing it. I personally have plenty of black guns, and it would take something exciting for me to buy another AR-15. At that point, we decided to be that new, exciting AR-15.”
The ﬁrst step was to assemble a team to design that exciting new gun. Again, Cobalt took a diﬀerent path.
“We brought in people from a lot of diﬀerent disciplines,” said Stewart. “We’ve got ﬂuid dynamic engineers and engineers from diﬀerent areas, guys from the racing industry, your classic gunsmith guys, we’ve got police, military – people from a lot of walks of life. We wanted to start fresh. It helped us to not be stuck in the ‘black gun rut.’”
It’s not that there haven’t been improvements made for the modular AR-15 platform. There is a big aftermarket where you can ﬁnd multiple replacements for every part of a standard gun. But Cobalt Kinetics had something else in mind.
“We set out to make a riﬂe,” Stewart continued, “but we didn’t just want to make it look cool and function exactly like all of the other ones did. We wanted to really have something worth creating a whole brand of riﬂes for. Not just a diﬀerent look, with diﬀerent colors. We wanted it to function better.”
And do it they did. At their ﬁrst SHOT Show as a manufacturer in 2015, the company debuted their B.A.M.F. (Billet Aluminum Modern Firearm) riﬂe, and it created quite a buzz.
“We got in trouble at the SHOT Show and range day for having too big a crowd in the aisle,” said Stewart, “but that’s a good problem to have.”
Within a few months, Cobalt debuted a second ﬁrearm, the Edge model. Both featured the innovative Dual Drop system, which turned the lowly forward assist into an ambidextrous bolt release.
“The Dual Drop on our riﬂes has sped up the reload times by a half a second,” said Stewart. “Both sides of the forward assist will drop the bolt, so no matter if you’re left-handed or right-handed, you can just reach your thumb up to drop the bolt. That was one of the ﬁrst things we designed.”
SHOOTING COMPETITIONS WERE EXPANDING rapidly across the country, and none were growing faster than 3-gun events featuring pistol, shotgun and riﬂe. The reload time savings created by the Dual Drop system got the Cobalt brain trust pondering what it would take to create a gun designed speciﬁcally for the riﬂe portion of those competitions.
To help them achieve that goal, they called on a man whose name was already quite familiar to fans of multigun events, Keith Garcia.
Garcia is a career law enforcement oﬃcer who initially sought out shooting competitions to enhance his personal SWAT team training, where oﬃcers need to shoot quickly and accurately on the move and under stress. His ﬁrst 3-gun match came in 2004, and although he admits that he was terrible, he was hooked. By 2008, he ﬁnished second in the nationals, and solidiﬁed his reputation as a knowledgeable competitor.
In the summer of 2015, Cobalt brought in Dave Lake, an experienced gunsmith with a lot of good ideas. One of Lake’s best musings was to have the young company bring Garcia in as a design consultant.
“We reached a level where we knew we needed some input from people who competed professionally,” said Stewart.
“We met, and they told me what their vision was,” Garcia said. “They wanted to do new and innovative stuﬀ, and that got me excited. They said, ‘You design a gun that will be the best thing for riﬂe, 2-gun or 3-gun competition, cost is no object, and it’s a blank sheet of paper.’”
“That’s a big thing with our team, adds Stewart. “We try not to focus on why we couldn’t do something. Instead, we want to focus on ‘How could we?’ We try to ask ‘Why not?’ rather than ‘Why can’t it be done?’ Our (only) challenge has been manufacturing the stuﬀ that we come up with.”
“We started down this path,” explained Garcia, “and they surprised me with how much stuﬀ they wanted to make in-house. We would go to the range, and I’d take their gun apart and put in other parts. I’d show them the diﬀerence between how it felt and how it shot, and what made something a Ferrari as opposed to a Toyota … Both can look good, but one’s going to outperform the other one.”
Garcia would invite engineers out to the range to either shoot the gun or watch him shoot it so he could tell them what the gun was doing in real time, and show them the results on the target. It made it easier to see what he was talking about, and they would ask questions – lots of questions.
“That’s where we really got the ball rolling,” said Garcia. “They would ask good questions about stuﬀ I’d assumed they’d already know or that was industry standard. But because they weren’t industry guys, they wouldn’t know, and they would look at it from a diﬀerent vantage point.”
ANOTHER RECENT INNOVATION, C.A.R.S., for Cobalt Advantage Reloading System, came about through a series of these conversations.
“They came to me and said ‘Hey, we’ve got this idea for a system that will drop the magazine and drop the bolt,’ and I was like, ‘That’s bullsh*t. It hasn’t been done in 50 years, it can’t be done.’ And then they made it work.”
CARS (the folks at Cobalt really love acronyms) is set to debut this coming summer on Cobalt’s new Evolve gun, and you’ll be hearing much more about it very soon.
But for Garcia, the development and testing of a top-of-the-line competition gun was always the priority. To help further that end, he suggested to Cobalt’s management that instead of just having one sponsored shooter – namely Keith Garcia – they should sponsor a whole team of competitors.
Again, Cobalt signed oﬀ on the deal, and Garcia quickly recruited three of the other top multigunners in the business: Kalani Laker, Nick Atkinson and Rick Birdsall. Each man already amassed plenty of individual wins, but this past season as Team Cobalt they dominated the competition. To broaden their opportunities and Cobalt Kinetic’s exposure, they adopted a “divide and conquer” strategy, with each team member focusing on a speciﬁc division while using their sponsor’s new Team Gun in the riﬂe stages.
At the recent nationals, the concept worked like a charm, producing a trifecta of epic proportions. Laker won the Unlimited division, Birdsall took the Factory division title, and Garcia was crowned as national champion in the Practical division.
It was a huge exclamation point to an amazing season, and Garcia is quick to credit the riﬂe for playing a big role in the team’s success. “It’s a high-end gun,” said Garcia, “and we really showed it this year, because between the four guys we had 19 wins and three national championships.”
Cobalt may currently have the most decorated R&D team in existence. And when the four aren’t shooting in a competition, odds are they are back on the range testing new products.
“As soon as we develop a product,” said Stewart, “we ship it to them, and they tell us how to tweak it to make it work better for them. And since we have four diﬀerent shooters, and each one of them has a little bit diﬀerent style, we can pull from each of them and come up with something that works well for everybody.”
“They can really put things through its paces fast,” he adds, “It really speeds up our development, and we don’t have to make any assumptions. We just put it in their hands; they run it and we see how it goes.”
That’s especially true with a project as important as the Team Replica riﬂe.
“We see ourselves as the pit crew on that gun,” Stewart said, “and they’re the driver.”
THE TEAM REPLICA RIFLE currently available from Cobalt Kinetics is nearly identical to the ones used by Team Cobalt in competition, with one exception. Cobalt has switched out the PROOF Research barrel for a very high-quality match-grade barrel to help keep the cost of the riﬂe under $4,000 (MSRP is $3,800). And, for current and future multigun competitors who want to gain an edge by shooting the exact same riﬂe used by Team Cobalt, a version with the PROOF Research barrel and an adjustable stock – known simply as the Team Gun – will also be on the market soon, but at a cost commensurate with those two additions.
“When you see a riﬂe that’s pushing $4,000,” said Stewart, “people say ‘Wow, how can it possibly be that much money?’ but once you shoot it, you know right away.”
“The gun is pricy,” agreed Garcia, “but it’s because they put all the best products in it, and they designed a bunch of stuﬀ in-house. I don’t believe you’re going to ﬁnd anybody who makes that many of the components inhouse out of aircraft-grade aluminum.”
“It’s a great shooting gun. It shoots extremely ﬂat. It’s extremely accurate. The lock-up we have between the barrel nut, the upper receiver and the forend is just rock solid. It hasn’t shifted at all. The groups I was shooting when I got the gun in January were the same groups I shot last week” he said in early November.
For competitors of all levels looking to improve their best scores, both versions of the Team Riﬂe warrant a serious look.
“At the USPSA Nationals last April,” said Garcia, “I won the long-range stage with only two makeup shots, and I’ve never won the long-range stage at the nationals ever. When that happened, it made me realize that we’ve got a really accurate gun. That’s something that can make or break a match.”
“Winning matches is not easy in this sport,” he added. “There’s a lot of competition, a lot of new people coming on board that are doing really well. But if I put the dot where it’s supposed to be and pull the trigger straight to the rear, it’s going to hit, because there’s going to be nothing mechanical that messes with it. When I miss, I know I’ve done something.”
“Back when I ﬁrst started with this stuﬀ,” Garcia said, “I got associated with Ron Avery, who’s an instructor with the Practical Shooting Academy, and he gave me some advice when I started getting better and people were approaching me. He said, ‘Never take a product or a sponsorship that isn’t going to help you win.’ And that’s the great thing about this situation. (Cobalt) came to me and said, ‘Let’s make something that will help you win.’”
IN PHYSICS AND ENGINEERING, the science of kinetics represents the study of motion and its causes. In two short years, the team at Cobalt Kinetics has proven to be dynamically proactive in both design and execution, and there are no plans to slow things down. The company currently has 40 employees, but that number will soon rise.
“We’re growing quickly,” said Stewart. “We’re running 24 hours a day, and can’t keep up. Now that this election’s over, we’ll probably expand more.”
“We want to be pushing things forward,” he adds, “have things moving, to not be stagnant. We know that we can push the envelope, and the market’s responded so far, so we’re just going to keep pushing.”
For Garcia, it all goes back to the riﬂe.
“If you want to win,” he said, “and you don’t want to have excuses for losing because your gear was bad, invest in a Cobalt riﬂe, and all the excuses will go out the window.”
“We really want to see ﬁrearms evolve,” Stewart concludes. “The AR-15 is still pretty much how it was in the ’60s. There’s a lot of room for improvement, and we’re going to push for that every year. So we’ve got some stuﬀ that’s been out there, but no one’s really pulled it oﬀ, and I think we can.” ASJ
You don’t need to talk with Casey Reed for very long before you start thinking you could use a bit more discipline in your own life.
Reed, who celebrated his 25th birthday in August, is a rising star in the competitive shooting world and a very focused young man. He participates in the United States Practical Shooting Association’s Production Division, and has already earned several awards, including the 2014 Minnesota State Championship, two consecutive USPSA Area 3 Championships, and Top Ten ﬁnishes at the 2015 and 2016 USPSA nationals.
Not bad for someone who ﬁrst tried his steady hand at the sport a mere four years ago.
But in addition to his competitive shooting prowess, Reed also has a day job, a brand new one, in fact. Recently, his managers at Federal Premium Ammunition oﬀered him the post of supply quality engineer, where he now works with vendors who provide Federal with everything from raw materials to ﬁnished goods. Prior to the promotion, he served as a product development engineer, where he helped design and test everything from shotshells to training ammunition for law enforcement and military personnel. One recent product he helped develop and test was American Eagle’s Syntech ammunition.
Although his career choice would come as no surprise to those who knew him as a young man, his participation as a competitive pistol shooter might.
REED SPENT HIS YOUTH hunting upland birds and whitetails near his home in Big Lake, Minn., which is northwest of the Twin Cities. And although he knew his way around riﬂes and shotguns, he rarely shot or even held a handgun.
“My dad had an old 9mm,” he told me, “but my ﬁrst gun was a Benelli M1 Super 90. [Before working for Federal], I’d shot a semiauto pistol maybe two or three times in my life.”
His father was an engineer, and there was no doubt that the son would eventually follow in his footsteps.
“I was always good at math and science,” Reed said, “And all through school my teachers told me that I should be an engineer.”
Soon, he headed oﬀ to study mechanical engineering at nearby St. Cloud State University. In just his second year there, the 19-year-old landed an internship at Federal, and for the next three years he worked as an assistant in the engineering department. After graduation, the company oﬀered him a full-time position.
“I liked the industry before I got the internship,” he said, “but I never really thought I’d be working in it.”
It was during his internship that he ﬁrst began to shoot pistols as part of his ballistic testing responsibilities, and those same tasks carried on when he began his full-time job.
A competitive perfectionist by nature, Reed took up his recently adopted sport following some encouragement from a coworker.
“Fellow engineer Matt Wolﬀ invited me to a local club match in 2012,” he recalled, “I became addicted. In fact, I signed up for a competition the very next weekend.”
REED WASTED NO TIME adjusting his already-packed schedule to the methodical lifestyle required of a competitive shooter. He currently logs up to 20 hours every week practicing, and then applies his analytical skills to his personal performance.
“I’ve always been a competitive person,” he said. “As an engineer, I’m very detail oriented. I analyze my shooting and how to train more eﬃciently.”
Unlike some competitors who follow the same exact regimen day in and day out, Reed is constantly adjusting how he trains.
“I’m always looking to see how I can become better and more consistent,” he said, “Most people can watch the Top Ten [shooters] and not be able to tell the diﬀerence, but to me it’s all about ﬁne-tuning. It’s about the details.”
Like a growing number of competitors, Reed frequently uses a “head-cam” to help him analyze his performance. After each match, he breaks down his “game ﬁlm” in slow motion like a veteran football coach, hoping to spot a ﬂaw he can improve upon to knock an additional few seconds oﬀ of his time.
Following these video sessions, Reed restructures his practice regimen to address what he feels are needed improvements, and develops or adopts new drills accordingly. One thing he doesn’t change are the “thousands upon thousands of dry ﬁres” he performs methodically, or his time in the gym working on strength and cardio.
“The sport is most like soccer or football because it requires lots of explosiveness,” he said. “You need to push oﬀ a good deal and move quickly from spot to spot, so it helps to be in good shape. The sport is leaning more and more to the younger and more athletic shooters.”
Although USPSA competitions are oﬀered year-round, Reed considers his personal season to last from April through September. Each year, he competes in eight to 10 major matches and 20 to 30 local and regional contests, and his schedule is especially busy in the summer. This past August, for example, he competed in majors on four consecutive weekends.
At his most recent event, the IPSC Nationals in Frostproof, Fla., Reed’s physical training was put to the test almost as much as his shooting skill.
“Running 11 stages in 80 percent humidity,” he said, “really beats you down.”
IT’S A LARGE COMMITMENT that brings a high degree of pride and satisfaction, but very little money. Unlike the higher visibility sports, the matches are all business with little fanfare, and that’s probably because they tend to draw as many competitors as fans.
“It’s not a good spectator sport,” Reed admits, “because it’s hard to see and watch. Most people just wait to watch the head cam ﬁrst-person videos [on YouTube].”
Much like a competitor at a NASCAR or PGA event, Reed ﬁnds himself participating with – and against – many of the same shooters at every USPSA major. But according to Reed, that’s a positive thing.
“It’s a very close-knit and helpful group,” he said. “In competitions, the top guys are all on one squad and shoot together. We help each other with stage planning, and most everyone is very friendly. Guys ask each other advice and questions, like how to practice or train. There are no big egos. Everyone is humble.”
Although Reed’s ultimate goal remains winning a national championship, it’s obvious he derives a great deal of satisfaction from the process of continuous improvement his disciplined training regimen brings, and from the camaraderie among competitors who share the same passion for a sport.
“It’s a really fun sport, full of action,” he said. “The top guys are putting in a ton of time, money and eﬀort. But no one is in it for the money. We all just love to shoot.” ASJ
On October 2nd, 2016, the Cowboy Fast Draw Association (CFDA) crowned their new World Champions. Approximately 250 competitors from across the U.S., Canada, and Europe traveled to Fallon, Nevada to compete in CFDA’s Signature Event, The Fastest Gun Alive – World Championship of Cowboy Fast Draw.
T.J. Vonfedlt a.k.a. Oregon Ranger, of Portland, OR, age 19, won his third Fastest Gun Alive – Men’s Overall World Championship by being the first repeat men’s champion in the sport’s history. He also made history in 2011 by winning the men’s overall championship at age, 14, which was covered by the Outdoor Channel’s, Shooting U.S.A. T.J. earned the Top Seed in the Magnificent 7 Finals in the regular rounds of the tournament and held off all challengers. He finally defeated last year’s Top Seed, Clay Janes a.k.a. Tin Bender of Caldwell, ID in the best 3 out of 5 final bout, with a time of .335, slightly over 1/3 of a second.
Jennifer Guerra a.k.a. Kiss-N-Tell, of Alta Loma, CA, won her first Fastest Gun Alive – Ladies’ Overall World Championship. She defeated the current Ladies National Champion Jamie Damrel a.k.a. Plain Jane of Vidor, TX in the final round with a .475, or just under ½ second. About 1/3 of CFDA’s members are women.
In the Youth Division, Michael Dobbins a.k.a. Blind Billy, of Powhatan, VA, defeated current National Youth Champion Jayden Eilrich a.k.a. Sheriff Rango of Fernley, NV with a final shot of .532.
In the Sport of Cowboy Fast Draw, authentic reproductions Colt .45 SAA six-guns are used with 1800’s period-correct leather holsters. Special wax bullet ammunition is used where the wax bullets are actually achieving the same velocity as live ammunition, but are stopped dead in their tracks by nothing more than archery netting. Digital electronic timers are used which illuminate LED start signals at the center of each target, from which the shooters react to their start light, draw, fire, and if their wax bullet strikes the target a time is recorded that is accurate to within 1/1000ths of a second. Firearms are never pointed at another person, instead the shooters stand side by side and face the 24 inch round-targets placed 24 feet downrange.
The format of the man vs man elimination tournament is managed by the CFDA Computer Scoring System, which draws the bouts and pairs the one on one match-ups by luck of the draw throughout the regular rounds of the tournament. In each round, the first of the two matched competitors to win 3 shots against their opponent wins that round and the defeated opponent receives an “X”, when a competitor receives 4-X’s they are eliminated from the tournament. Once the tournament is down to the Top 7 men, ladies, and youth on Saturday, they are seeded into a unique double-progressive elimination final format called, The Magnificent 7 Finals which begin at High Noon on Sunday, with hundreds of spectators cheering for their favorites.
Safety is always first! CFDA has a Youth Safety Training Program (begins at age 8) and a CFDA Range Officer Certification Program. One of the organization’s primary goals, “To educate as many people as possible in the safe and proper use of firearms.” CFDA is an NRA Affiliated Organization and has almost 5,000 members joining in the fun and thrill of the competition that is based upon, “The Romance and Legend of the Old West”. Members dress in western-themed clothing and adopt an alias which they compete under in the spirit of the old west. About 80 CFDA Affiliated Clubs exist coast to coast in the U.S. and are speading to Canada, Europe, Australia, and even Japan. CFDA was founded in Deadwood, SD and moved its annual world championship to Fallon, NV in 2008, and is sponsored by the Fallon Tourism & Convention Authority. Also among their major sponsors are Ruger Firearms, Pietta of Italy, Taylor’s & Co., and Mernickle Holsters.
For more information please go to: www.CowboyFastDraw.com or write to Cowboy Fast Draw Association – P.O. Box 5 – Fernley, NV 89408
For the third time in four years, Greg Jordan took home the win at the FN 3 Gun Championship. Known as one of the only matches in the season that incorporates fast technical bay stages with longer rugged, natural terrain type stages, Jordan is somewhat of an expert of this event. “This year was no different than any other in my strategy – the fast bays require shooters to strategize to save every available second while the natural terrain stages required finding the perfect spot to engage the targets” said Jordan. After a grueling 10 stages with the Army’s Daniel Horner hot on his tail, Jordan managed to keep his head in the game and his Armalite M15 Competition Rifle with Nexus Ammunition on target, walking away with a first place finish.
The NRA World Shooting Championship is known for featuring a wide variety of disciplines with firearms provided by top manufacturers for each stage. This year’s event included an Armalite 3 Gun Stage and Surgeon Rifles PRS Long Range Challenge, both products and events that Jordan is familiar with. “Every year I look forward to competing in the NRA World Championship. You sign up, show up to the range with your eyes and ears – with your fingers crossed! It is one of the best ways to test a competitors raw shooting ability using unfamiliar weapons in several different shooting disciplines” explains Jordan. After two days of shooting the 12 event stages, Jordan walked away with a 2nd place overall finish, and 1st place in Stock Pro.
Team Armalite’s John Mouret competed in the Southern Utah Practical Shooting Range’s LEO 3 Gun National Championships over the weekend. The event features Law Enforcement from all over the United States. Mouret shot his stock Armalite M15TAC16 and Nexus Ammunition a total of 12 individual and 6 team stages, resulting in a team win in Patrol Division, 3 rd place individual patrol division, and a 4th place overall finish.
About Armalite: Armalite is the originator of the legendary AR-10 rifle. For 60 years, Armalite’s commitment to excellence has made our firearms the choice of military, law enforcement and sport shooters worldwide. Armalite has one of the broadest product lines in the firearms industry. They manufacture semi-automatic rifles in 5.56mm and 7.62mm calibers, as well as long range bolt action rifles in .308 Winchester, 300 Winchester Magnum, .338 Lapua, and 50 BMG. Armalite is a subsidiary of Strategic Armory Corps. For more information on the company and products, visit: www.armalite.com.
About Nexus Ammo: Nexus Ammo provides discerning shooters high impact solutions through unparalleled, patent-pending automation processes. The “Nexus Method” meticulously produces ammunition to exact tolerances equal to the attention of hand loading. Our unique machinery and automation allows us to build ammunition to exact specifications, starting with the raw materials. This method is proven to provide a consistency in weight in every cartridge, delivering the quality and ballistic performance you can rely upon.
You can depend on Nexus Ammo to deliver a full ballistic spectrum of ammunition performance for your tactical, defense, or hunting needs. When you require consistency, accuracy, and repeatability… Nexus is your solution. For more information on the company and products, visit: www.nexusammo.com.
About Strategic Armory Corps: Strategic Armory Corps was formed with the goal of acquiring and combining market-leading companies within the firearms industry. Each company that is brought into the SAC family fulfills a consumer need with their brand of niche products. To date, four highly respected manufacturing companies have been acquired with a fifth in the start-up phase. These companies strategically fit together to form a strong base of products and services that are designed to meet the expectations of military, law enforcement, commercial groups, and individual users around the world.
Tim Norris I was in the top ﬁve for the Ruger and NSSF Rimﬁre Challenge World Championships from 2008 to 2014. I was also the 2013 Briley West Coast Steel Championship riﬂe champion.
ASJ How did you get started in shooting?
TN I was 8 years old the ﬁrst time I pulled a trigger. I was on a family camping trip in the mountains just outside of Phoenix, Ariz. My father put a 1911 in my hands, helped me support it and bang! It was the greatest thrill of my life up to that point, and I was forever hooked.
ASJ So, your parents clearly encouraged you?
TN Yes. My parents saw how much I enjoyed it and knew how important it was for me to learn ﬁrearm safety and discipline. They enrolled me in a hunter-safety course. Then it got good. My Christmas gifts between the ages of 9 and 10 were ﬁrearms: a .410 shotgun, .22 riﬂe and .22 pistol. I still have those guns today, and every time I handle them they bring back fond memories.
ASJ What made you want to continue?
TN When I was 18, I joined the US Navy and spent six years on active duty. The Navy is where I was introduced to a new world of really fun ﬁrearms, from the M14 to the M2 Browning and everything in between.
ASJ Thank you for your service, Tim! When did you decide you wanted to compete?
TN In 1988 I joined a local club that ran a combat-pistol match every month. Combat shooting, as it was referred to in less politically correct times, was still a fairly new sport and as such was still evolving rapidly. Back then there were few veteran shooters, let alone pros around to draw experience from, so I just had to jump in with both feet and hope for the best.
ASJ What was your ﬁrst competition like for you?
TN My ﬁrst tournament-level competition was the 1991 World Speed Shooting Championships, and it was intimidating. Back then you would pick up the leading shooting magazines and read about the pros and world championship events, and it looked like a lot of fun. The problem was that I didn’t have a clue what it took to compete, so again as before, I jumped in head ﬁrst and hoped that the water was deep enough, but not too deep.
ASJ What did you learn from your ﬁrst event?
TN At the ﬁrst Steel Challenge, there were 30 pros and the other 250 competitors were just like me. Most of us who shoot competitively started just like this, and we continue to compete for the love of the sport. It has become less daunting after a few trips to the shooter’s box. Even though we were novices we had a reliable support network.
ASJ What type of events have you competed in over the years?
TN Over the years, I have shot many diﬀerent kinds of competition, but I am most active in NSSF Rimﬁre Challenge, United States Practical Shooting Association – pistol and riﬂe – and 3-Gun. I love to compete because it pushes me to improve, and I get to hang out with some of the greatest people around.
ASJ When did you get sponsored?
TN In 2009 I realized a lifelong goal of becoming a sponsored shooter and have been on the Volquartsen Firearms team ever since. One of the best side eﬀects of being sponsored is the ability to teach clinics for novice shooters to help them enter the world of competitive shooting.
ASJ It’s great that you take the time to help others. I know you said you are very involved with the NSSF Rimﬁre Challenge. I have heard wonderful things about those events. It is a .22 riﬂe and pistol program created to introduce new people to the shooting sports and provide a pathway to competition. Everyone will want to know what types of ﬁrearms you shoot with and why.
TN I use a 4½-inch Volquartsen Scorpion pistol with a custom Volquartsen compensator, a C-MORE Systems railway dot sight with an 8-minute dot. The sight is attached to a Bearcave Manufacturing 90-degree mount. The pistol has Hogue 1911 stocks that are modiﬁed to ﬁt, and the magazines have a VC spring-loaded magazine ejector. My riﬂe is a Volquartsen Ultralight with a Boyd SS Evolution stock, C-MORE Systems RTS red-dot sight with a 3-minute dot. The sight is mounted scout-riﬂe style on the front end of a VC Picatinny scope mount and has an Alchin Gun Parts rimﬁre riﬂe compensator. I shoot Fiocchi 22FHVCRN high-velocity ammo.
ASJ Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us today, Tim. Keep us in the loop on your progress – we will be watching.
TN Will do. Thank you.
Editor’s note: If you have questions for Tim Norris, please send them directly to firstname.lastname@example.org.
STORY BY EMILY ROBINSON * PHOTOGRAPHS BY RODNEY ROBINSONI have always been a pistol shooter. Even the first time I was out on the range, I loved everything about shooting, from the smell of the gunpowder to the sound the steel makes when it is hit by a bullet. I think that’s what got me hooked on competitive shooting. I was 9 years old when I attended and watched my first Glock Sport Shooting Foundation (GSSF) match in Columbia, S.C., and my whole family attended to see what it was all about.
The second match I attended was the GSSF annual shoot in Conyers, Ga., and although I did not shoot in that match, I was allowed to borrow a Glock with a .22 conversion and shoot the plate rack. Right after this event, my parents bought my brother and me a Glock 17 and I actually competed in my first match two months later. I loved how everyone was so friendly, supportive and helpful. Since I was so small, people gave me advice on how to hold the gun, my stance and other tips. Some of the people who helped me that day have become longtime friends and are now like a second family. After several years of shooting GSSF matches all over the Southeast, it was a natural progression to move to United States Practical Shooting Association (USPSA).
MY FIRST USPSA MATCH was the North Carolina Sectional in 2012. I had never even been to a USPSA match, nor had I ever practiced for anything like it. It was all new, and I was even a little intimidated. It was so much fun watching everyone on my squad shoot during their round, but when it was my time to shoot, I felt like a deer in the headlights. After I completed the first stage, I was a little surprised at how well I had done. I was really slow, but the accuracy was there and that was most important to me at that time. Just as I had been taught in GSSF, accuracy was first on the priority and speed would eventually come, and that’s exactly what happened. To date, I have won three state-level titles in USPSA.
After three and a half years of USPSA and even longer in GSSF, I got the itch to try 3-Gun. I had met so many people who shot 3-Gun that I really wanted to give it a try. Since I had not worked with shotguns or rifles very much, there was definitely a learning curve. When it was time to get started, I had to gather equipment and get it ready. For Christmas I received a Mossberg JM930, which can be used for 3-Gun right out of the box, so that was a great surprise. Then I had the amazing experience of attending the SHOT Show for the first time in 2016. I set up appointments with several potential sponsors, one of which was NightForce, which turned out to be huge for me. Coincidentally, my interviewer had been a range officer and fellow production shooter at the Georgia State USPSA Championship, so he had heard of me. He gave me a chance and supplied me with an awesome NightForce NXS 1-4×24 optic and mount even though I hadn’t yet shot a 3-Gun match.
Similar to my first USPSA match, I had never attended a 3-Gun match. The closest I had come to seeing one was on TV, and I was really excited but nervous. I had enough time to shoot about 100 rounds through my shotgun and get my rifle zeroed from the 100-yard line with my new NightForce optic. I was dead-on within 10 rounds. Awesome optic! I also shot a few rounds on the move to try to get comfortable. My Glock 34 would round out my 3-Gun trio. Items such as shotgun-shell carriers and rifle-magazine pouches were borrowed from friends, but I felt just about ready.
THE DAY HAD ARRIVED and it was time for my first 3-Gun match. I arrived at the range and everything was new. I’d never been to this facility, didn’t know very many people there and the stages looked longer and more complicated than pistol stages. My nervousness subsided as I watched a few people walk the stages. I realized that the stage prep is pretty much the same as in pistol matches. You have to understand the layout of the stage and the stage brief, then develop a plan that works for you. I talked to a few people about their stage plans, and once I broke the stages down between the three weapons, everything seemed to fall into place. I wasn’t worried about the pistol stages, and I knew I would just have to slow down a little on the rifle and shotgun.
I knew the rifle and shotgun were going to be obstacles due to my lack of trigger time. The match started off a little rocky. My shotgun magazine spring created a problem that stopped my rounds from feeding into the chamber. One of the match directors had an extra spring that I borrowed and fixed the problem – another example of how great people are in the shooting sports! By the second stage I started to feel more comfortable, and overall felt that I did pretty well.
The last stage was probably my best. It started with three pepper poppers that threw clays into the air. These are reactive steel targets that fall to the ground when you shoot them, and as soon as they hit the ground they throw a clay pigeon into the air as a secondary moving target. I’d never shot clays like that before, but I hit them all. I even had to do a pick-up shot on one of them and still got it in the air! The next string was a pistol stage, which I shot on the move to make up some time. After that, there were four long-range rifle targets at 55, 110, 160 and 210 yards. It was time to really test that rifle zero. I set up for the shots, took a long breath and exhaled and fired the first shot. Hit! The next two shots were both hits. My confidence was pretty high. I fired at the 210-yard target and missed. I remembered to adjust for distance using my optic and fired again. Hit! I was so proud of myself. I was pretty happy with how I did on that stage especially. There were several things I had never encountered but I worked through them. In the end, I had no misses and no penalties. My time wasn’t the greatest because I wanted to make sure I was safe and my hits were all good, but I was pretty happy with my results.
IF I COULD HAVE CHANGED anything about my first match, I would have paid more attention to other competitor’s stage plans and applied what I observed to my own. It was a lot different than I had expected, but overall I expected to make mistakes since this was my first 3-Gun. I got a little aggravated with myself over simple mistakes, but I will learn from them!
One of the similarities between 3-Gun, USPSA and GSSF are the people. These are some of the friendliest, supportive and helpful people you will find anywhere. The people on my squad offered help throughout the entire day, and I really appreciated that.
MY ADVICE for anyone looking into 3-Gun or any shooting sport is to be confident when you go out there. If you need help or equipment, just ask. Ninety-nine percent of the time someone will be there to help, whether you know them or not. Even if it’s your first match, match directors and range officers will walk you through it to get you started. One thing I’ve learned about the shooting world is that someone will always be there to lend a helping hand.
Everyone is new at some point and no one started out as a pro. All you have to do is apply hard work and dedication, and have fun. You can learn something from everyone on the range, whether it’s your first match or you’ve been doing it for 20 years. It’s all in the way you look at things. ASJ
There are competition rifles, there are pretty rifles and then there’s the Colt CRP-18 GunGoddess rifle, a perfect blend of both performance and elegance!
This eye-catching rifle offers all the features of the standard CRP-18, with a feminine touch – an exclusive, custom-designed, filigree handguard and a choice of eight Cerakote colors.
“As more women become gun owners and as they participate in the shooting sports in growing numbers, manufacturers will be challenged to meet their needs with functional, high-quality products,” says Athena Means, president of GunGoddess.com.
“While aesthetics matter, it’s not just about making it pretty. It’s about providing a product that performs.”
The CRP-18 is competition ready right out of the box, with features including a match-grade, stainless-steel barrel, a Geissele two-stage trigger and a patent-pending finger-adjustable gas block. Colt guarantees accuracy, and tests each rifle to ensure a 3-shot group of 1 inch or less at 100 yards.
The GunGoddess CRP-18 is available exclusively at GunGoddess.com, both to consumers and dealers. Orders can be placed by phone at (866)957-1117 or online here!
Northwest Action Works is a newcomer to the precision ﬁrearms custom rig creation world, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have their targets dotted and their hairs crossed. Their humble roots but high quality standards have given them the tools they need to create some truly impressive riﬂes for considerably less than most other custom shops. Why do they do this? We asked NAW founder Mason Watters how he got started, and what he is doing to shake up the industry as a newcomer.
American Shooting Journal How did Northwest Action Works LLC get started and what inspired you?
Mason Watters We started this company on accident. We weren’t able to afford the often high prices associated with custom riﬂes, so we started building our own. Over time and after several builds for friends and ourselves, we started to get pretty good. When we ﬁrst became an official business, we thought it would only be a side job. We primarily just sold components. The next thing we knew we had custom-barreled actions and complete riﬂe orders coming in. We quickly had to adapt and it turned into a fulltime operation. We decided that in order to focus solely on the company, we had to maintained a goal of bringing only a line of high-quality products to the market at prices we felt were fair to us and our customers.
ASJ What would you say is your best product or strength?
MW All of our riﬂes and barreled actions come with a ½ minute of angle accuracy or better – guaranteed! With high-quality loads and steady hands, these actions are capable of much better, and it is not uncommon to see ragged or even single-hole groups at 100 yards, or bullet impacts stacking on top of each other at longer range steel gongs. Many of our customers are outstanding shooters and report some incredible feats of marksmanship.
ASJ How are you involved with the nation’s fastest growing shooting sport, the Precision Rifle Series?
MW We are actually just getting our feet wet with PRS. We have put together several rigs for people getting into practical competitions, and recently expanded our lineup to include a wider range of tactical-style, custom-riﬂe packages, each of which have a number of features and options that can be conﬁgured into an ideal competition rig.
ASJ Have you released anything new, or do you have anything in the works?
MW Yes! We have a new riﬂe package called the PMR Tactical, and we’re very excited about it. While this is our most entry-level package in price, it features performance traits that make it anything but entry level. It comes with our ½ MOA or better guarantee, as well as several upgrade options that make it a truly customized ﬁrst rig without breaking the bank.
ASJ It’s been great talking to you. We support your eﬀorts and look forward to seeing what you come up with next.
MW Thank you. ASJ
Editor’s note: For more information on Mason Watters or Northwest Action Works, visit nwactionworks.com.
The American Shooting Journal spoke with Mark Gordon, owner and founder of Short Action Customs. They build precision rifles specifically designed for the ultimate in discerning and elite shooters. Gordon is also the lead sponsor for today’s top Precision Rifle Series shooter David Preston. Here is what Gordon had to say:
American Shooting Journal How did you first get involved with the Precision Rifle Series?
Mark Gordon I got started with PRS as a precision-rifle builder to see what our rifles would have to go through. Most importantly, it was to see what the shooters demanded out of their rifles and what they needed to be successful. The bottom line is these rifles have to work every time without fail, be extremely accurate and practical to use in the field.
ASJ What is it that is creating such explosive growth with competition precision shooting?
MG I believe it’s because these shooters have a desire to be proficient with their equipment and they want to know their limits. With a mixture of classic prone shooting and demanding positional shooting, the competitors are exposed to a large spectrum of disciplines at these matches. Lastly, the best place to do that is under strict time limits and lots of stress while other competitors watch. With many more club and national-level matches popping up all over the country, you can expect the sport to grow exponentially.
ASJ You currently sponsor the number one shooter in PRS. Tell us more about how that happened.
MG We started our first rifle build for David Preston in early 2014 after developing a relationship with him from previous PRS matches. At that time, Preston was familiar with our rifles and what they were capable of. Luckily for me he wasn’t shooting for a team at the time. We spoke on a few occasions, and I offered him a position on our team. After many rounds fired, rifles rebarreled and matches shot, Preston really started shooting to his potential. We do our very best to keep reliable and accurate rifles in the hands of PRS shooters so they can do their job.
ASJ Your company, Short Action Customs, builds a lot of custom rifles. What is your favorite build?
MG There are two types of rifle builds that we love doing the most. The first is when a customer tells us to just do what we think is best. This allows us to take all of the leading-edge technology and components that we would use on our own builds and build the rifle we would want. It is great to have that kind of trust and confidence with our customers.
The second type of rifle build that we enjoy is when customers have us build rifles using components from manufacturers that we have not been exposed to. The parts industry is growing so fast, and as with any rifle build, it’s only going to be as good as the foundation it’s built on. So we really enjoy working with new components and learning about all the latest products.
My personal favorite rifle build is configured to be agile, medium weight and run smoothly. We run Defiance Machine integral scope base and recoil lug actions called the Alpha 11, Manners Composite Stocks T6A 100 percent carbon-fiber stocks and Remington Varmint-contoured barrels from Bartlein Barrels. We typically finish these rifles with custom paint from Custom Gun Coatings. ASJ
Editor’s note: You can visit Short Action Customs at shortactioncustoms.com.
Posted in Long Guns Tagged with: Bartlein Barrels, competition, Custom, Custom gun Coatings, David Preston, Defiance Machine, Manners Stocks, Mark Gordon, Precision Rifle Series, Remington, Rifles, Short Action Customs
Tarheel 3-Gun invited HIPERFIRE’s match sponsorship early in 2013. Since then, shooters from around the country have won HIPERFIRE’s triggers off the prize tables and compared shooting notes that has established HIPERFIRE’s good reputation not only for trigger design innovation, but most importantly
performance and reliability. HIPERFIRE is very appreciative of Tarheel 3-Gun’s
role in cementing HIPERTOUCH triggers’ place in high performance shooting.
So, HIPERFIRE and Tarheel 3-Gun have now taken the next step to jointly
promote a new signature trigger and further promote the shooting sports in general, because as we all know, shooting the best equipment is not just for 3-gun.
didn’t think it could improve on the
24 Competition product offering, but it
Your trigger finger will feel the difference between the 24C and the TH24 as a definite step up. It sports a HIPERSHOE finger rest with Tarheel colors and a Nickel-based enhanced plating exclusive
to the TH24 making the pull even smoother and more responsive. HIPERFIRE has wholesale and OEM purchase programs. MSRP of $275.
HIGH PERFORMANCE FIREARMS LLC is a Minnesota limited liability company located in the Minnesota Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area organized in 2011 to design, manufacture, and sell novel products into the MSR marketplace that satisfy the unmet needs of the more demanding recreational and professional shooter.
Terry Bender, Owner (612) 729-3829
Kevin Tapia, Sales (704) 992-1727
Mailing address: POB 300, Hamel, MN 55340
(612) 729-3829 | email@example.com
Jessie Duff is one of the world’s best competitive shooters in the action sports arena. She is also the first woman to hold the title of United States Practical Shooting Association
(USPSA) grand master. So far this year, she has won at the NRA Bianchi Cup, Steel Challenge World Championships, NRA World Action Pistol Championship, USPSA Area 6 Championships, Steel Challenge National Championships and the STI Double Tap Championship. To get a better picture of the intensity of her focus on being the best, consider that she won her first World
Championship title in 2005 when she was 20 years old. It was the Cowboy Action Shooting Western 3-Gun World Championships. Since then, she’s won at another 73 major competitions, making her one of the most recognizable faces of the shooting sports world. We were fortunate to be able to talk with her on the business of professional shooting, her contributions to breaking ground for women in what was once almost exclusively a man’s sport, her television work and what preparations she has made for a zombie apocalypse.
FRANK JARDIM You are recognized as being one of the top action shooting competitors in the world, and since you became the captain of the Taurus Shooting Team in 2012 most people
have thought of you as the face of Taurus. However, I’ve noticed when you win, which is a lot, there are five other companies (Leopold, Hornady, Weatherby, Uncle Mike’s, Hoppe’s)
that also make a point to announce that you are on their team too! In Kentucky, where we only understand college basketball, you can only be on one team at a time. Would it be more
accurate to say that you are sponsored or endorsed by these companies rather than on a traditional sports team? JESSIE DUFF I have been very fortunate in my career to be able to partner with the best companies in our industry. And yes, these partnerships are considered “sponsorships” or “endorsement deals.” In the shooting industry, a shooter may acquire multiple sponsorships for the different types of equipment used, ie, firearms, ammunition, holsters, gun cleaning products, targets, eyewear, etc., as long as the companies don’t conflict with one another. These companies may also contract multiple shooters, and have their own company team.
FJ How do you know who you win for? Does Taurus say, “OK, Jessie, go win the Bianchi Cup for us and we’ll keep you in guns,” and Hornady say, “Win the Steel Challenge for us and we’ll keep you knee deep in ammo until the zombie apocalypse,” and so on? JD My championship wins are celebrated by all the companies that I’m partnered with. I choose my match schedule based on the disciplines that I compete in, and the matches that I think would best promote and highlight my sponsors. Then, if I am fortunate enough to win, all of the companies will promote the title based off of the products I use for them. For example,
when I won the NRA Bianchi Cup this year, Hornady promoted their bullets that I used, Leupold’s scope that I chose for the match, and Taurus for the firearms I had made for that competition.
FJ Unlike a basketball team, the nature of the shooting sports requires members of a shooting team to compete as individuals. As captain of the Taurus team, what exactly does
that entail? JD As captain of Team Taurus, it’s my responsibility to represent Taurus in
the shooting sports and the industry. This includes competing with their firearms, attending trade shows, appearances, etc., and promoting the brand off of the range as well.
While I’ve been at Taurus, we have started a junior shooting program, Taurus Young Guns. This program was designed to give young up-and-coming shooters an opportunity in the industry, and help them along in the shooting sports. Growing the sport and passing on the tradition is important to me and Taurus, and, through this program, we are able to do both.
FJ Taurus Young Guns involves scouting and recruiting young raw talent like Alex Larche to develop into the next generation of superstars shooters. Have you found any more promising prospects?
JD Alex is our first addition to the team, and he has done extremely well with it, proving that the program is successful. We haven’t added any new shooters yet, but I am always keeping my eyes open at every match I go to. There are so many talented junior shooters coming into the sport, but we aren’t just looking for someone who can shoot well. We are looking for someone who can be a good ambassador of the sport, represent Taurus in the best way possible, and be a good role model for other junior shooters. Even though we haven’t
added anyone new since Alex, that doesn’t mean we won’t be scouting and adding in the future!
FJ One of the reasons the shooting sports are great is because you don’t have to have great size or brute physical strength to participate. Men and women can compete together equally. In fact, you are a grand master, which puts you among the top competitive shooters in the world. Why do we even have separate ladies’ catagories? Danica Patrick doesn’t compete in a ladies racing division.
JD In the shooting sports, there are divisions based on the type of equipment you use. Within those divisions are categories, for ladies, juniors, seniors, military/law
enforcement, etc. A shooter is capable of winning their category along with their division. So at a match, I compete in the ladies category and in the open division (open is when an optical sight is used on the firearm). My scores are tallied against all other competitors
for an overall standing, but also in my category against the ladies. Should a lady beat all the other competitors, including the men, she would be awarded the overall title, just as Danica Patrick would be if she won a race.
FJ Do your foresee a time when ladies’ classifications will disappear?
JD No, I don’t think that would happen, nor should it. I think having a category/division specifically for the ladies recognizes what we do in the sport. I think if the number of women in the shooting sports continues to grow, then it would be great to see the ladies have their own championships, like in tennis or golf. But until then, I don’t mind
competing alongside the men!
FJ I’m curious if in a male-dominated sport, at least for now, do your fellow professional male competitors consider women shooters as their peers? Since you aren’t in the same
catagories, it would be easy for chauvinistic types to say, “Well, she’s good for a girl,” when in reality, if you competed directly against them you would beat them.
JD I believe in any sport where both men and women are competing, you will always have some opinions that women can’t compete at the same level. Thankfully in my career, all the men I have competed against have been very respectful of what I’ve done, and encouraging to other women competing as well.
FJ In the past few years, women have been participating in shooting activities in record numbers for sporting and self-defense reasons. Part of the reason Taurus brought you on
board was to cultivate women. What are your thoughts on the trend and the role you have played in it?
JD I’m so glad to see more and more women getting involved in with firearms and the shooting sports. I think they are realizing that firearms are not just for men, and that they can have a place in that world as well. With all of the talented women in the shooting industry, we have shown that women too can come and compete, and enjoy it! With Taurus taking such a stance in promoting women, it’s such an honor for me to have the opportunity they have given me. When I retire from shooting, my hope is that I was able to encourage as many ladies as possible to participate and enjoy firearms, whether for recreation or self defense!
FJ To the average shooter, a lot of the guns the pros like yourself use in matches look like something you would see in a science fiction movie. I know that in most cases those pro guns, like race cars, are highly tuned and customized, not just for the specific shooter, but also the specific competition. How critical are those custom guns to your success as a competitor? Could you still win with an out-of-the-box Taurus?
JD The majority of my guns are, as you mentioned, custom built to me and the events I compete in. While I prefer to compete with a firearm that is fine tuned to my specifications, I can and have competed with out-of-the-box firearms. I spent the early years of my career shooting stock guns, and did well with them. As I progressed into the sport, I wanted to expand the divisions I competed in, which led to custom guns. I still shoot in divisions where the modifications are minimal, like Single Stack and Production.
These divisions showcase the Taurus products, and show consumers that they are top-shelf firearms even without all the bells and whistles.
FJ I know you have some experience with vintage firearms. For fun, have you ever tried those courses of fire you do for the Bianchi Cup or Steel Challenge with something completely old school, like a fixed sight S&W M1917 revolver, an original Colt 1911 or a C-96 “broomhandle” Mauser? That would be pretty awesome.
JD My shooting career started in cowboy action shooting, so I got plenty of time behind a Ruger Vaquero! Before I started shooting modern firearms, I shot Steel Challenge with
my single-action revolvers. That was a challenge within itself!
FJ You won quite a few Single Action Shooting Society competitions early in your career. What attracted you to that unique type costumed genre shooting competition? Did your Dad
make you watch Gunsmoke reruns when you were a kid?
JD I grew up watching Westerns; my dad is a cowboy at heart, which is why he loves SASS. My dad was competing in SASS when I made my way into competition, so naturally that’s what
I shot as well. I love the cowboy era, and the costumes you would see at the matches, and shooting firearms that were built hundreds of years ago, that are still functional today. So, it was a great place for me to start my shooting career.
FJ What’s in your sights for next year?
Any plans to expand your Outdoor Channel NRA All Access show?
JD NRA All Access is continuing on, with season two currently airing, and we are wrapping up season three. It’s been a wonderful journey through the years with Friends of NRA, and transitioning into NRA All Access! Through the show, my husband and I are able to travel the country and meet the people of the NRA. We get to hear their stories of what the Second Amendment means to them, the traditions that they are passing on, and their passions about the outdoors. I’m excited to see the future the show will have, and to continue to be a part of it! WSJ