Point And Shoot

[su_heading size=”30″]The proliferation of Internet video channels featuring knowledgeable hosts sharing engaging firearms content has added new firepower to our computers, tablets and phones.[/su_heading]

STORY AND PHOTOS BY OLEG VOLK

 

The best job, people say, is doing what you love. A similar saying goes, “If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.”

For decades, firearms aficionados have successfully found ways to combine their passions with profit. Some became manufacturers or gunsmiths, or opened retail gun shops. Some sought work as trail and hunting guides so they could spend the maximum amount of time armed and outdoors. Others turned to sharing their knowledge and experience for a variety of print publications, and still later, radio and television programs. For those who sought to expand their hobbies into full-time employment, it was nice work if they could get it.

David Nash, also known as “22plinkster.”

That same time-honored tradition of “working at what you love” continued as the 20th century became the 21st, but in some different ways. Today, a new generation of firearm fans seeking knowledge or information is as likely to access a computer search engine as they are to tune in a broadcast program or pick up a print magazine [Editor’s note: We think magazines are still pretty awesome], so it’s logical that many of the current outdoor industry’s most popular “media” personalities got their start online.

Like those who came before them, these social media mavens began as firearm fans before ever posting a blog or uploading a video. Far from killing the romance, this transition enabled them to do more of what they love and to bring their passions to the world. And while outsiders often erroneously perceive members of the traditional gun culture as stodgy and standoffish, these new ambassadors are welcoming and engaging to wide and diverse audiences.

Tim Harmsen of the Military Arms Channel (MAC).

IAN MCCULLUM, the author of Forgotten Weapons blog and channel, started shooting while in school and continued recreationally afterward, often hanging out with collectors, where he learned by listening and reading. In 2010, a French friend who had some unique manuals and drawings of Pedersen devices – not just for M1903 Springfield but also for M1917, Mosin, and Lebel – died. All of his info, including these unique and irreplaceable documents, were discarded by his family. That event prompted Ian and his friend Karl to begin to archive historic information about arms for the education of future enthusiasts, and his Forgotten Weapons blog was born. A supporting video channel launched in 2011.

Forgotten Weapons deals with historic and mechanical information in an academic format, rather than rely on flashy Tannerite or exploding watermelons. The appeal to viewers worldwide, in turn, gives access to more gear. As the blog and channel’s reputation grew, museums and private collections became more readily available for perusal. Rock Island Auctions and the James D. Julia Auction Company gave Ian access to numerous unique arms all at once. The rise in viewership to 445,000 subscribers, and the promotional value of work done with auction companies turned a labor of love into a self-supporting enterprise. In addition to his own blog and video channel, Ian writes an “Exploded
view” column for American Rifleman. On the extra-serious side, he is a technical forensic adviser to the Association of Firearm and Tool Mark Examiners (AFTE.org).

Ian McCullum, of the Forgotten Weapons Channel and blog.

TIM HARMSEN was taught to shoot by his uncle in the early 1980s, and he became a regular reader of Guns & Ammo, Combat Arms and several other print publications. Tim began collecting firearms in 1985 with a Ruger 10/22 bought by his mother. A Colt AR-15 Sporter and a Government Model 1911 came the following year, and more have shown up regularly since then.

He launched the Military Arms Channel (MAC) in 2008, originally making short videos about new guns he had purchased or to illustrate points made on one of the many discussion forums of the era. Thanks to the breadth of his own collection and to substantial industry support, he has been able to feature many weapons that otherwise we would have only been able to see in video games.

At the time of his launch, he was very active on the forums, posting reviews of personally owned guns and accessories. Slowly, he switched to making videos and posting links instead of writing the posts. More and more people liked the videos, asked for more and started subscribing. Tim increased the frequency of his videos, while maintaining independence from manufacturers. He does not accept money for favorable videos or product placements; he only reports on things he owns and shoots. Unlike other “traditional” reviews, MAC videos often delve into minutia down to the level of “this screw turns left and this one turns right.” In a nutshell, Tim records range sessions using items of personal interest, and brings viewers along through the camera.

David Nash gets some shots downrange using this Roni-converted pistol carbine. Nash hosted this particular gathering at his private range.

For 20 years Tim worked as an advertising executive at Omnicom companies and Hearst, both prominent international companies. Then he traded that career for doing
what he loves, shooting and firearms, and hasn’t looked back. The big pay cut was compensated by his passion being fed, and being happy to wake up and go to work every morning. The Military Arms Channel – which currently has 545,000 subscribers and many more occasional viewers – Copper Custom Armament and the Full30.com firearm video hosting site have comprised Tim’s full time work for the last two years.

Gun rights activist and writer Yih-Chau Cheng fills the air with 12-gauge shells from this Saiga shotgun.

DAVID NASH, better known to the social media universe as 22plinkster, has been shooting since age 5. His video production experience goes back to December 2011, when he rose to a dare by a friend about hitting a golf ball with a bullet at 100 yards and documenting the process on video. He hadn’t planned for fame, but 300-plus videos and 380,000 subscribers later, fame has clearly found him. Fifteen months ago he was able to turn “pro,” working mainly with Henry Repeating Arms, Vista Outdoors and the Sonoran Desert Institute.

The 22plinkster channel features mainly trick shots, gun reviews and “redneck” science (for example, how many balloons or silly string cans in a row would a .22 bullet penetrate?). He also does new product announcements, often getting to see preproduction samples long before anyone else in the industry. As with the other creators, David gets to have fun for a living, a nice gig indeed! Being able to lean over the porch railing with a lever action, make steel ring in the distance and call it the day’s work sounds pretty good to me.

Hickok45 (left) towers over Yih-Chau Cheng’s niece “Dora” at a recent firearms training get-together.

 

While David possesses the technical skills required for much more sophisticated video productions, he has deliberately maintained the look of a backyard hobbyist on all of his pieces. Often shot with a single camera, the simple, accessible look and feel of his stories invites and encourages viewers to get into the game as well. Like many people in the outdoor industry, 22plinkster is supportive and cooperative rather than competitive, subscribing to “the more, the merrier” view. His goals include expanding the shooting sports, the attendant culture and the supporting industry, and most other members of the gun-themed new media hold the same values.

THE MAN KNOWN AS HICKOK45 may be the most reclusive of the currently popular online video personalities. His desire for privacy is easy to understand when you consider that a few of the 2.5 million subscribers occasionally turn up on his doorstep to worship the celebrity in person. That kind of attention, while flattering, can creep out the family. Plus, at 6 foot 8 inches tall, he’s pretty distinctive, so we’ll use his screen name here as well.

A retired gentleman of leisure now, Hickok45 has shot guns all his life. He’s also always enjoyed photography, and was an early adopter of digital. When decent-quality pocket digital cameras became available, he always carried one. It was with the humble pocket camera that his first video, now at a million views, was made. All it showed were five shots taken at a steel buffalo target with the .45 Colt SAA – but the viewers loved it. He made several silly videos back in 2006 – including filming himself shooting metal targets through the open doors of his car – mostly just fooling around. That was one of first things he posted on YouTube, thinking that was just for “silly stuff.”

With help from professional trainers such as Kris Paulson and John Bibby (below) …

Later, when teaching the novel Shane at a school where he taught for 23 years, he decided to film “cowboy” guns in action and show the video in class so his students could see what arms the title character carried and used. That piece and a couple of Glock videos produced an unexpectedly high volume of positive feedback, encouraging him to make more content.

Neither he nor his son knew how to edit video at the time, so they just turned on the camera and let it run. They soon realized, just like 22plinkster did, that the simplicity and realism were a key part of his appeal to the viewers. Hickok45 had no idea that YouTube paid anybody, and so had no intention of making money from his channel. But a year into it, YouTube offered to monetize his channel and share ad revenue. After some hesitation, they accepted the offer, and the rest is history. As with the others above, his fame was largely accidental. Unlike some others today, he had no plan to create a big YouTube channel or to make money with it. His goal of simply filming for fun and sharing information kept expanding until it became a viable business. Hickok45’s most popular video has had over 15 million views, and ten more are currently at over 5 million views. Those are respectable viewer numbers for a large TV station, much less a father-and-son team having fun on their backyard range. While some of the guns featured are the latest and greatest high-tech models available, many videos show much simpler and inexpensive firearms. These, however, are often presented in a new light, such as smoothbore shotguns being successfully used with slugs against 200yard steel targets.

… Dora was able to become comfortable with a variety of firearms in one focused day of training.

IT’S NO SURPRISE THAT people who have risen from humble hobbyist beginnings remain very friendly to other enthusiasts, including beginners. Recently, 22plinkster provided his personal range for a Midwestern gathering centered on a visit by California gun rights activist and writer Yih-Chau Cheng and his niece Dora (not her real name). At 14, she has not had an opportunity to shoot guns, nor had access to the NFA class of weapons brought for the occasion by Kris Paulson of DTV Tactical Innovations. Hickok45 was able to show up as well. Having several firearm instructors and two of the most popular online personalities all supporting the learning experience enabled her skill set to go from zero to competent with pistol, submachine gun and belt-feds in one day. It also underscored the difference between the cultures of Middle America and those found in those “less than gun-friendly” states such as California.

Here, Dora enjoys the fruits of her training day with pistol, submachine gun and belt-feds supplied by DTV Tactical Innovations.

Each of these four – Ian, Tim, David and Hickok45 – possess a staggering amount of knowledge. But unlike museums that merely hold that knowledge for the occasional visitor, the quartet broadcasts what they know for the world to learn. What they don’t know, they investigate and then share.

The massive numbers of viewers indicate that the knowledge they spread is of substantial interest to American and foreign audiences alike. More recently, similar channels have sprung up in countries such as Hungary and the Czech Republic, presenting the best side of the gun culture to wider audiences. Hopefully, this positive trend will help reverse much of the official anti-gun rhetoric inflicted on the European and American populations alike over the past century. ASJ

 

Editor’s note: On the day this article was completed, YouTube pulled all advertising from firearms-related pages. The decision seemed to be driven by their parent company, and may likely push much of the technical and right to keep and bear arms (RKBA) content to other sites. By the time this issue is in print, we will all know more.

The gun videographer known as Hickok45 fires a belt-fed minigun under the watchful eyes – and cell phone cameras – of a variety of trainers and Internet personalities at this firearms-centric gathering.

 

Engineering Excellence

United States Practical Shooting Association Champion Casey Reed spends each day seeking perfection at work, and in competition.

STORY BY CRAIG HODGKINS • PHOTOS BY FEDERAL PREMIUM

 

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.

In 2015, Reed used this set up to win a Top Ten finish at the USPSA Nationals. Currently, he competes with a heavy steel Tanfolio Stock II with a double/single-action trigger. His ammo of choice is American Eagle 124-grain 9mm, Federal Load #AE9AP.
In 2015, Reed used this set up to win a Top Ten finish at the USPSA Nationals. Currently, he competes with a heavy steel Tanfolio Stock II with a double/single-action trigger. His ammo of choice is American Eagle 124-grain 9mm, Federal Load #AE9AP.

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.

Since landing an internship at the company six years ago, Reed is now a supply quality engineer, working with vendors that provide Federal with everything from raw materials to finished goods.
Since landing an internship at the company six years ago, Reed is now a supply quality engineer, working with vendors that provide Federal with everything from raw materials to finished goods.

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.”

A wingshooter and deer hunter in his youth, Reed has readily taken to handgun shooting competition. (LIVESHOTS.NET)
A wingshooter and deer hunter in his youth, Reed has readily taken to handgun shooting competition. (LIVESHOTS.NET)

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.

As part of his role as a product development engineer for Federal Premium, Reed helped develop and test American Eagle Syntech ammunition.
As part of his role as a product development engineer for Federal Premium, Reed helped develop and test American Eagle Syntech ammunition.

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.

Reed says he just loves to shoot and the camaraderie of competition, but he also has a goal of being a national champion shooter some day. (LIVESHOTS.NET)
Reed says he just loves to shoot and the camaraderie of competition, but he also has a goal of being a national champion shooter some day. (LIVESHOTS.NET)

“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.” AmSJ

How To Build An Olympian

[su_heading size=”30″]Youth Shooter Phenom Lance Thompson Shoots For The 2020 Summer Games[/su_heading]

Story by Dana Farrell * Photographs by John Thompson

[su_dropcap style=”flat” size=”5″]F[/su_dropcap]ourteen-year-old Lance Thompson of Carlisle, Pa., has spent the last several years of his life with one goal in mind – competing in the 2020 Olympic Summer Games in Tokyo.

As an Olympic trapshooting hopeful and honor student, Thompson maintains an intense, disciplined schedule that includes shooting up to four days a week during the school year and living full time at a training center during the summer. This arrangement allows him to train every day when school’s out. While living at the training center he stays with one of the team members, a 25-year-old female shooter, in an efficiency apartment 100 yards from the range. This summer marks his third season living at the center.

FINDING HIS CALLING
Lance found his calling in a roundabout way when his dad enrolled him in an NRA shotgun class at their local gun club. Although he was only 9 years old at the time, Lance was big for his age and the instructor made an exception. He allowed him to participate in a class that normally required a minimum age of 12. Now, 6 feet tall and 160 pounds, Lance says that even at age 9, he was one of the best shooters in the class. His mother and father, realizing their son had a gift for pointing a shotgun, saw to it that he began training in the sport of Olympic trap at the prestigious Keystone Shooting Park, in Dalmatia, Pa., north of Harrisburg.

Lance’s training regime requires him to be transported to the famous Keystone Shooting Park four days a week during the school season and lives there full time during the summers.
Lance’s training regime requires him to be transported to the famous Keystone Shooting Park four days a week during the school season and lives there full time during the summers.

“I am not an Olympic trapshooter, so this isn’t ‘Dad’s dream,’” says Lance’s father, John. “I never even knew what Olympic trapshooting was until Lance started shooting it. So it’s not like I’m an old ATA shooter and got my kid involved in this.” The elder Thompson spent 20 years as an elite cycling trainer, so he entered into the Olympic commitment with eyes wide open – he knows what it takes to compete on an international level. In support of his son, John now holds an NRA Level 2 Shotgun Coaching license, and is one of only a handful of International Shooting Sports Federation-certified instructors in the United States – a certification that required a trip to Ireland to attain.

“To do this at the level we’re doing it, it’s all-hands-on-deck. Everything revolves around Lance’s shooting schedule and what he’s got going on. Even though he’s got some really good sponsors, there are obviously still expenses. It’s a 100 percent commitment – you can’t dabble. If you want to become a world champion, you can’t just dip your toe in or just do it on the weekends” says John in regards to what it takes to shoot at Lance’s level.

Both parents lend 100 percent support to their son’s goal of making the Olympic team, with mom Patty usually driving Lance back and forth to Keystone to train several times each week during the school year. “Keystone is about an hour and fifteen minutes away from where we live, so once or twice during the week and both days on the weekends we’re driving to and from – two and half hours in the car, and then spending six or seven hours a day there on the weekends. At least one of us is there, if not both of us,” says Patty. She also accompanies Lance overseas when he competes in Europe – a place where “Olympic Trap is much more a part of the culture than in the US” according to John.

Lance has already shot in Germany, Italy and France, with “the hexagon” probably providing his fondest international shooting memory. “One of the best places I ever shot was in France. I was shooting for the junior division, and I ended up first. I was the youngest junior to ever win the junior division in 32 years.”

OLYMPIC TRAINING REGIMEN

Lance says one of his best shoots abroad was in France, where he won a junior division.

When other students his age are likely home playing video games, Lance works out on a balance board to strengthen his core muscles while passing the time watching TV. On those school nights when he’s not making the trip to Keystone, he’ll mount his gun one hundred times to build muscle memory and strength. Not all of his training is physical, however. He uses Olympic Gold Medalist rifle shooter Lanny Bassham’s Mental Management program for mental training, something he says helps him relax while shooting under pressure, and he uses Vizual Edge two to three times per week, a software program developed by medical professionals to assess and improve one’s visual performance. Lance thinks Vizual Edge helps him track targets and improves his peripheral vision. Shooting coach Allen Chubb is currently helping him find his optimal balance point, so that he’s not leaning too far into the gun, and he’s not being rocked backwards onto his heels upon firing.

INTO THE FUTURE
Last year was a successful one for Lance, having won six gold, three silver and four bronze medals in Olympic-style competitions. His 2016 shooting schedule will take him to Malta and Italy, where he hopes to add to his growing medal collection. At the ripe young age of fourteen, he’s already amassed a long list of sponsors whose support helps defray the cost of his rigorous and expensive training schedule. Among his sponsors are B&P ammunition, Perazzi firearms – Lance shoots a 30-inch-barrel Perazzi MX8 – Pilla eyewear, Giacomo Sporting USA, Eurotarget USA, Salomon footwear and 5.11 Tactical.

What does this highly driven Olympic hopeful do for fun when he’s not training? “For fun I usually shoot sporting clays, because if I shoot any other sports, it throws off my timing for Olympic trap, so it’s hard to transition back.”

Lance’s recent achievements include winning six gold, three silver and four bronze medals in Olympic-style competition.

Look for Lance Thompson in the 2020 Olympic games. In the meantime, he’ll be hard at work developing the skills needed to earn that coveted spot on the USA Shooting Team. ASJ

Zero To Grand Master In A Shot

[su_heading size=”30″ margin=”0″]Meet Revolver Speed-shooter Brian Schrock[/su_heading]

STORY AND PHOTOGRAPHS BY JAMES DAVIS

[su_dropcap style=”light” size=”5″][/su_dropcap]recently had the pleasure of watching competitive shooter Brian Schrock in action. I’ve known Schrock for years, but had never actually watched him shoot. Schrock is an unassuming-looking guy from Arizona, but he is a dynamo on the range. His shooting and reloading speed is a sight to behold, and he shoots exclusively with revolvers.

Brian Schrock didn’t set his sights on competitive shooting until later in life. But once the timer went off, he and his revolver trio have been unstoppable.
Brian Schrock didn’t set his sights on competitive shooting until later in life. But once the timer went off, he and his revolver trio have been unstoppable.

Everyone who knows Schrock likes him, and this is because he always has the positive mental attitude, pure talent and sheer determination to make it to the top. We conducted his first-ever interview on his road to glory in the competitive shooting world.

American Shooting Journal Brian, how long have you been shooting?

Brian Schrock When I was about 7 or 8 years old I started shooting a .22. I came from a family of hunters, so that was my first introduction to firearms. I started squirrel hunting and then graduated to deer and elk. I’ve taken a javelina with my S&W 500, as well as an elk at 103 yards. I started competing in August 2011 east of Phoenix in Mesa, Ariz., at the Rio Salado Sportsman’s Club during their Tuesday night steel shoots, and in March 2012 I started shooting in the United States Practical Shooting Association.

Schrock demonstrates a winning combination of natural skill, hard work and determination. Needless to say, it’s working.
Schrock demonstrates a winning combination of natural skill, hard work and determination. Needless to say, it’s working.

ASJ What sparked your interest to start competing?

BS I was working at Sportsman’s Warehouse, and one of the associates who worked there competed. I had a S&W 627 and a Glock 21 at the time, so I figured I would just try it out. Before I actually started competing, I attended a couple of matches and just learned by watching what and how people shot. I noticed that there were very few people shooting revolvers, so I decided to use the 627. I fell in love with  competing by the second match, and that’s when I started  looking for a broader outlet, like the USPSA. I love it, and there is nothing I would rather be doing.

 

(Top to bottom) Schrock’s current Jerry Miculek Signature series S&W 929 eight-shot 9mm, six-shot S&W Model 625 and the eight-shot Model 627 he started competing with.
(Top to bottom) Schrock’s current Jerry Miculek Signature series S&W 929 eight-shot 9mm, six-shot S&W Model 625 and the eight-shot Model 627 he started competing with.

ASJ Is USPSA the only type of competition you shoot?

BS I also shoot International Confederation of Revolver Enthusiasts, or ICORE, and am rated as an A-Class shooter (75 to 84.999 percentile).

 

ASJ What is your current class in USPSA?

BS I made Master class on March 14, 2015, and Grand Master in the USPSA revolver division on October 16 (top 95 to 100 percentile).

 

ASJ A congratulations is in order. The USPSA has over 25,000 members, so being in the top ranking is not an  easy feat.

BS Thank you. I appreciate it.

 

ASJ What are some of your best accomplishments and accolades in competitive shooting so far?

BS Well, I came in first place of C-Class at Revolver Nationals in 2013. After that I took first place in revolver in the 2013 Area 2 Desert Classic, and then I went on to win first place in the A-Class for the Midwestern regional ICORE shoot in Nevada that same year.

I didn’t do much shooting in 2014 because of school, but so far in 2015 I came in fourth overall in the Area 2 Desert Classic for USPSA.

 

Although Schrock used to send his guns out to be honed and gunsmithed, he now does all of the work himself, with the exception of chamfering.
Although Schrock used to send his guns out to be honed and gunsmithed, he now does all of the work himself, with the exception of chamfering.

ASJ Obviously you are a dedicated revolver shooter. What are you shooting in competition?

BS For competition I use only Smith & Wesson. I started out with the Model 627, which is an eight-shot .357 Magnum, but when I switched to USPSA, an eight-shot revolver was not legal for their sport at the time, so I bought the model 625, which is a six-shot .45 ACP. I shot that for about a year and then the USPSA made eight-shot revolvers legal, so I switched back to my 627. As of October 2014 I’ve been shooting the new Jerry Miculek Signature series S&W 929 eight-shot 9mm.

 

The only thing that sidetracks Schrock from shooting and competing is the manufacturing and engineering degree that he is currently working towards at Arizona State University.
The only thing that sidetracks Schrock from shooting and competing is the manufacturing and engineering degree that he is currently working towards at Arizona State University.

ASJ Do you do work on your own revolvers, or do you send them off to have work done?

BS My first two competition revolvers, the 627 and 625, I sent to Apex Tactical Specialties, Inc., in California. They do  excellent work, but on my 929 I did my own work except for chamfering the titanium cylinder.

 

ASJ How often do you shoot?

BS For practice, about once a week, and I shoot about 200 rounds. I usually compete twice a month, and shoot about 150 rounds in each competition.

 

ASJ Did you follow competitive shooting at all before you got into it?

Schrock competes in United States Practical Shooting Association, as well as International Confederation of Revolver Enthusiasts.
Schrock competes in United States Practical Shooting Association, as well as International Confederation of Revolver Enthusiasts.

BS No, I honestly didn’t know about the world of competitive shooting until I started working at the sporting goods store.

 

ASJ So you never had any heroes or people to look up to who were in the shooting world?

BS Not particularly. I remember seeing videos of Jerry Miculek shooting revolvers. He was my inspiration to pick the S&W 627 over the Glock when I started. I was watching videos of guys shooting semiauto pistols who were basically  pretty slow. They couldn’t shoot that well either. When I first  saw Jerry shooting, I thought, “Man that guy can shoot fast!” It wasn’t until I started shooting revolvers that I realized how much talent, blood, sweat and tears you had to put into it to become halfway decent. Jerry was my first inspiration, but if I had to pick my shooting hero, it would be Rob Leatham. I had an opportunity to shoot with him in a couple matches, and have even taken a class with him. He is a good guy. One day before a revolver nationals match, Rob and I showed up at registration at the same time. He changed out of his single-stack rig and into his revolver rig. We shot the match together, and I thought it was really cool that a 20-something-time national champion and umpteen-time world champion would switch out his gear and shoot with a C-class revolver shooter.

 

Schrock’s reloads during competition are lightning fast.
Schrock’s reloads during competition are lightning fast.

ASJ Brian, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us.

BS You’re very welcome. I’ll see you at the range.

***

Brian is currently attending school for manufacturing and engineering technology at Arizona State University. He wants to be on the top of the mountain, and he will get there. I’m calling it right now, people: 2016 is going to be the year of the Schrock. ASJ

ALEXIS WELCH – Mighty Mite

[su_heading size=”30″ margin=”0″]Tiny Packages Pack Firepower[/su_heading]

Why Industry Big Guns Have Faith In This Tiny Shooter

Story and photographs by Oleg Volk

Alexis Nicole Welch
Meet 8-year-old Shooting Phenom Alexis Welch

[su_dropcap style=”light” size=”7″]S[/su_dropcap]ome people are larger than life. They are rare. Even more rare are children whose accomplishments would make any adult proud. Alexis Welch of western Kentucky is one such kid. If a writer used Alexis as a book character, most of the readers would have accused them of being unrealistic – nobody is that multitalented, at least in the mundane world where most people live. And yet, Alexis is quite real and keeps getting more impressive by the day.lexis started shooting at age five. Her grandfather Tryce “PaPa” Welch had already raised one competitor, his daughter Stephanie who became a professional motorcycle racer. Her career was cut short by an injury after a very promising start. Unlike her mother, Alexis had little interest in riding dirt bikes, but a keen desire to shoot guns. The competitive aspects of marksmanship were a mystery to Tryce, so he educated himself and started training Alexis.

Tryce and Alexis Welch (Oleg Volk)
Having mentored his own daughter, Alexis’ mother, in dirt-bike motorcycle racing, Tryce Welch started over with Alexis and supported her passion for shooting sports.

Her first rifle was an S&W MP15-22, initially fired off the bench and later unsupported. Alexis is small for an 8-year-old, so gun weight has been a concern. Constant physical exercise and good technique have allowed her to run adult-size firearms effectively. After she attended several rimfire matches, Tandemkross, a New Hampshire company specializing in parts for customizing competition guns, sponsored her. In the summer of 2015, I was introduced to the Welch family, who live in Owensboro, Ky., which is along the Ohio River across from Indiana, and have been following Alexis’ progress ever since.

Alexis Welch and Dani Bryan
Alexis has attracted the attention of shooting competitor superstar Dani Bryan (right), who has worked with Alexis to prep for matches. In this training moment, Alexis is focusing in on the CMore sight topping her Volquartsen Scorpion .22 match pistol, which features a personalized and custom mount by Bill Striplin.

This girl’s main talent goes beyond pure shooting ability: she’s enthusiastic, effective and friendly. Articulate and unaffected, Alexis can work with adults, as well as play with kids. Picking up where Tryce started, firearm coaches Gary Welborn and Bob Sanders volunteered their time to train her, and during her first public shoot, Dani Bryan, a female firearms instructor and competitive shooter, took the time to coach her too. Alexis is very popular with teen marksmen as well, many of them treating her as an honorary little sister, and helping her learn more about the sport. She’s recently gained the affectionate nickname “Monkey,” and ran with it.

After Tandemkross, she was discovered by many sponsors to include Volquartsen Custom, Leupold Optics, Striplin Custom, Owensboro Rifle and Pistol Club, Sound Gear, Beck Defense, Gemtech, Weapon Shield and, unofficially, Trijicon. Besides institutional sponsors, Alexis has also been supported by the Bragg family, Richard and Carol Stokes and over 1,750 other fans who hail from as far away as Brazil and Russia. A custom rifle maker, Fighting Sheepdog, just joined in with a truly unique, pint-sized AR-15 that has a hydraulic-recoil compensator and other personalized features to make it just right for this diminutive shooter. Tryce supplies the chauffeuring and the ammunition.

Alexis Nicole Welch (Oleg Volk)
Alexis makes a great student, according to her coaches, but she is always ready share what she has learned with others.

My first photo shoot with Alexis was a pleasant surprise. There aren’t too many adults, much less preteen kids, who can keep focused and enthusiastic about work for over 10 hours with only a few short breaks. Alexis could, and she did it with good cheer. Her images proved to be marketing gold, equally for promoting shooting sports, the right to bear arms and her increasingly numerous sponsors. Her eagerness to surmount every available challenge energizes her fans and supporters.

Starting with Steel Challenge in May, Alexis has participated in NSSF Rimfire Challenge, USPSA and multi-gun competitions. She’s had a good start on her future titles by winning the Indiana State Steel Challenge Champion Ladies 12 and under open category. Most recently, she was a guest at an event organized by Hunter “Nubbs” Cayll, known for shooting competitively even though he does not have hands, and shot her first event with a full-sized AR-15. Just prior to that, she helped in the production of a video for a veteran fundraiser, competently running M249 and M60 machine guns, as well as firing a 7.62mm SVD sniper rifle that intimidated some of the adult participants. She’s a member of Ozark Mountain Lead Slingers youth group, USPSA Juniors and a noncompeting member of 4-H Shooting Sports. Not limiting her interests to gunfire, Alexis plays soccer and softball, sings, plays music and practices gymnastics. Proving wrong many who perceive kids who shoot as hillbillies, she’s also a straight-A student. She’s already giving back by helping her 5-year-old brother learn gun safety and marksmanship, and often helps instruct adult novices as well.

Alexis Nicole Welch (Oleg Volk)
Alexis can handle full-sized firearms, but most of her arsenal is specially designed to be very lightweight, like this Volquartsen Ultralite .22 match rifle in Blackhawk Axxiom stock and with a CMore sight on a personalized custom mount by Bill Striplin.

Alexis’ plan for the future is to excel in shooting sports, get a college education and serve in the military. She will probably do well with it, given a history of challenges such as being born deaf and having to do speech therapy after successive surgeries. She’s already an effective ambassador for gun rights and shooting sports. To expand on the saying that the mind is the weapon and everything else is just a tool, I would estimate that the personality and mind of Alexis Welch will play a large role in the next generation’s work to retain our firearms freedoms. ASJ

American Shooting Journal February 2016 CoverEditor’s Note: You can follow Alexis on Facebook at  https://www.facebook.com/alexisnicolefanclub.

The American Shooting Journal was proud to have Alexis Welch on the cover of our February 2016 issue. 

Alexis Nicole Welch (Oleg Volk)
Alexis Welch, seen here aiming a 7.62x54R Tiger rifle customized to SVD configuration and topped with a 6x PSOP scope, is only 8 years old, yet she competes in numerous shooting competitions, is sponsored by known industry names, plays soccer and softball, sings and is a straight-A student.

Max Friedman – Rockin’ The Rimfire

[su_heading size=”30″ margin=”0″]A Closer Look At Youth Shooter Max Friedman[/su_heading]

Story and photograph by Eric M. Saperstein

Max Friedman[su_dropcap style=”light” size=”5″]A [/su_dropcap]13-year-old honor-roll student, Max Friedman is concluding his second year of competitive shooting, and his fascination with shooting only began at age 10. Max’s regular circuit includes matches at his home club, South Jersey Shooting Club in Winslow, N.J., where he competes in the Pennsylvania Steel League. In 2014, Max won High Junior at the New Jersey State NSSF Rimfire Challenge. In 2015 Max had the opportunity to experience true competition and camaraderie when he gained support and sponsorships from a plethora of people and companies and truly stepped outside of his comfort zone when he competed in the US Steel Nationals, World Class Steel Speed on Steel where he finished as second junior, Pennsylvania State Steel Challenge Championship and the New Jersey State NSSF Rimfire Challenge, where he also finished second junior.

Max has been a regular attendee of the Area 8 USPSA Junior Camp for the past two years, and is a member of the TacSol shooting team. Among his prized equipment is a Ruger 22/45 Lite with a Tactical Solutions Pac-Lite barrel and a Tactical Solution X-Ring 10/22. The fall of 2015 brought him the opportunity to begin formal training with his Walther PPQ M2 9mm, because he is looking forward to entering USPSA competitions this year.

When not competing, you can find Max computer coding, enjoying time with his dogs and playing video games or watching movies. He has chosen to give back via his shooting efforts by supporting the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund. ASJ

Shyanne Roberts – Youth Shooter Extraordinaire

[su_heading size=”30″ margin=”0″]A Closer Look At Youth Shooter Shyanne Roberts[/su_heading]

Story and photograph by Eric M. Saperstein

Shyanne Roberts[su_dropcap style=”light” size=”5″]T[/su_dropcap]his young lady began enjoying the sport of target shooting at the age of five under the close supervision of her father Dan Roberts. Engaging in sanctioned matches at the age of seven across a wide variety of disciplines and even participating in events such as IDPA, USPSA, 3-Gun, Action Rifle, NSSF Rimfire and Steel Silhouette, Shyanne is a rising star among today’s youth competitors.

In 2015 she joined the TacSol shooting team, which earned her a new signature custom purple TacSol Ruger Paclite and X-Ring 10/22. In addition to these, her other personally owned guns are her tricked-out Rock River Arms and Gun for Hire ARs, a Beretta 12-gauge semiauto and a custom Glock 19. She immersed herself in the sport by training with Todd Jarret, a competive shooter and instructor, and competing at the Brownells Lady 3-Gun, bringing home the “tough-as-nails” award, USPSA matches and an assortment of rimfire challenges to include the New Jersey State NSSF Rimfire Challenge where she finshed as First Lady.

American Shooting Journal July 2015 CoverThis little lady has been featured on CNN, Fox & Friends, Nightline, Chasing NJ, News 12 NJ, as well as the covers of American Shooting Journal’s July 2015 issue and Junior Shooter, an assortment of newspaper articles, podcasts and radio mentions. There’s no doubt the nation has noticed that Shy’s generation is shooting for their future.

This new generation of shooters has been well mentored, and can now – most certainly – take the reins. ASJ

Youth Shooters In America

[su_heading size=”30″ margin=”0″] Interview With Youth Industry Leader, Chet Alvord, Of Tactical Solutions[/su_heading]

Story and photographs by Eric M. Saperstein

[su_dropcap style=”light” size=”5″]Y[/su_dropcap]outh shooting in America is flourishing; it’s a sport where the young can compete with seniors, and families can engage in an atmosphere of recreation and competitive spirit unlike that of any other venue. This is where physical attributes take a second chair to skill and attitude. Youth are not only the future of the shooting sports, they are the future of our nation. Kids today will gain the American right to vote in a timeframe that can seem like moments from now.

Tactical Solutions looks for good kids with great personalities and school ethics.

[su_box title=”Meet Chet Alvord” style=”soft” box_color=”#e6041b” title_color=”#ffffff” radius=”4″]Chet Alvord is the co-owner and founder of Tactical Solutions. Prior to firearm manufacturing, Alvord’s business expertise was in sawmills, brokerage, lumber import and export and manufacturing in the western United States, Russia, Poland and Finland. In 1999 Alvord founded CNC Solutions, Inc., a precision CNC machine shop specializing in producing close-tolerance parts for the aerospace, automotive and medical industries. In 2002 he and his partner Dan Person founded Tactical Solutions and have built the company into one of the premier firearm and firearm accessory manufacturing companies in the country.[/su_box]

SIDEBAR 1 Chet Alvord-minWhen we discuss kids, many jump in and shout “Let them just be kids!” We couldn’t agree more! Let them be kids, but there’s absolutely everything right about creating an experience that is fun, educational and develops them for success in life. I had the opportunity to engage with a man at the 2014 NRA Annual Meetings and Exhibits who is, let’s say, handling some logistics behind the front lines of the youth shooting movement. His name is Chet Alvord, vice president of marketing at Tactical Solutions, a Boise, Idaho-based firearms manufacturer specializing in perfecting the .22-caliber rifle and pistol for competition shooting.

When we met, I was introducing a young lady named Shyanne Roberts, an up-and-coming competitive shooter who was simply melting with interest when she got the chance to check out the TacSol lineup. Chet quickly engaged her and took a commanding role in the conversation; I was (humorously) brushed aside, giving Shy her first opportunity to negotiate on her own. I smiled and gave her a quick pep talk as I patted her on the back and walked away; I knew he didn’t stand a chance!

Max Friedman and Shyanne Roberts
Youth shooters are the future of our nation, and these talented kids, like Max Friedman and Shyanne Roberts are excellent role models for kids and adults alike. 

 

Let’s talk with Chet now about his philosophy on the next generation of shooters, the nature of supporting professional youth and how they play a critical role in our nation:

 

Eric Saperstein When we first met you immediately focused the conversation directly on the youth shooter. Can you explain how this is beneficial? What characteristics stand out that inspire you to support a specific shooter?

Chet Alvord It is very simple. Our country’s youth hold the future for all shooting sports. They are our next voting base to protect our Second Amendment rights. Rights that are under attack daily. When I look at a potential team shooter, I look for good kids, not great shooters. I want positive representatives for our industry. Safe, courteous, humble, appreciative and good students who have a smile on their face whether they win or lose. I will never look at how good or accomplished a shooter they are.

 

ES While many of us are actively battling a society that is treating shooting competitions as malevolent and pushing to regain the competitive spirit, you presented a code of conduct that included emphasis that winning is not an expectation. What is your position on the pressure to compete and win?

CA Interesting choice of words you just used – battling. I strive to look at educating, rather than battling. What’s a better nonthreatening way of education than letting our youth demonstrate the positives of shooting sports? It is hard to argue with an articulate 10-year-old. Shyanne has an upbeat personality and winning smile, all while sporting her purple pistol and rifle. She is exactly what I am looking for to promote our industry. To answer your question, I believe in competition and that there should always be a winner and nonwinners. I hate to use term of loser because that is not the same thing to me – both are character building. Winning requires work and commitment and character is tested when you don’t win. In terms of building shooting sports, winning is not as critical as many aspects of the competition. I look at competition as a vehicle to teach valuable life lessons. Tactical Solutions holds one of the country’s largest National Shooting Sports Foundation .22LR shooting events every summer. Our attendees are comprised of world and national shooting champions who shoot unbelievable custom pistols and rifles, and yet on the same course of fire we have young families sharing the same stock Ruger 10/22 and pistol. What is fantastic is that you will see these champions willingly helping these new shooters and provide valuable tips and strategies.

 

ES Kids and politics are a treacherous topic; the mental landmines explode in people on all sides of the subject. Your philosophy is that we are creating the voters of tomorrow. How do you navigate this subject?

CA It does not have to be treacherous, nor should it be. Sometimes we have to look at how we present our sport to the non-shooting public. As an example I use the word firearm rather than weapon. To the layman a weapon is for killing. The word firearm is a less threatening term and does not have the assault-gun stigma. Little things like this are important in discussions about shooting and youth. We have no reason to make excuses about our industry, however, we do need to spend time educating the nonshooters in our country. It is important to state that this is not passive education; we have to be proactive rather than reactive.

Max Friedman and Shyanne Roberts
One of the biggest mistakes we can make in the firearms industry is to underestimate the skills and fortitude of our youth.

ES What is your most inspirational moment in youth-shooting sponsorship, or better yet, which of your shooters influenced you the most and how?

CA I hope I take away or learn something from every individual I sponsor. I know they put a smile on my face. We have a growing team of great people like kids from age eight to a kid age 73. Honestly, I am proud of each and every one of the shooters we help. I don’t know if there is one who has influenced me more than another. I have sponsored juniors who have gone on to become world champions and some have careers in the shooting-sports industry. I am happy to say that all the people we sponsor are or will be successful and happy in life.

 

ES What is your vision of the shooting sports in 20 years? What are the most relevant steps you are taking today to help ensure that we reach that goal?

CA I pray we still have shooting sports in 20 years. I have fears that if we, the current shooting population, are not proactive in educating the public about our industry shooting sports, we may be doomed. We can’t be complacent and believe that the NRA alone (while they do an amazing job) is going to get it done. We need to get off our collective fannies and educate everyone in a positive and nonconfrontational manner. We are facing a well-financed powerful lobby that states every firearm is for killing. They do not understand our industry. I hope that the shooting base of great kids we are building will help the long-term effort to protect our Second Amendment rights.

• • • •

A pragmatic takeaway? I find myself caught in the mindset that we are entangled in a war, a revolution, fighting for our rights. Mr. Alvord challenged my terminology, embodying the methodology of education and the exchange of knowledge over the more combative verbal tactics. As we study the field on which we campaign for our liberty, let’s formulate a plan where we educate our families, friends and neighbors. While I just paraphrased from the Art of War, Sun Tzu understood the value of diplomacy. The Youth Shooters of America are our ambassadors; it is incalculably valuable that they represent the shooting sports and our rights with poise, integrity and tact. Preparing them for this challenge is the responsibility of the firearms industry. ASJ

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Eric M. Saperstein is a master craftsman who owns one of the nation’s premier handcraft studios. He is gaining ground as a photographer and filmmaker, and works with AOV-TV to provide creative services to the shooting community, artists, corporations and individuals. While he is amongst the last of the 18th-century craftsmen, a modern artist, author and creative director, he is also accredited in the information technology arena, with experience in process engineering, change coordination and software development lifecycle management.

He is a lifetime shooter, pro-Second Amendment advocate, county coordinator for NJ2AS, a life member of the NRA and author. He is the social media/PR director for Shyanne Roberts and General Defense Outfitters. Saperstein brings nearly three decades of firearms, small business, corporate and marketing experience to the board of Youth Shooters of America, a newly formed organization dedicated to “Leading our nation’s youth shooters to embrace and achieve a lifestyle that embodies liberty, discipline, values and success.”

LEAD PHOTO
Max Shyanne Roberts

 

Jumping The Gun Gap

[su_heading size=”24″ margin=”0″]JUMPING THE GUN GAP[/su_heading]

World Record Dirt-bike Champion, Cam Zink Is A Brother In Arms

Interview by Danielle Breteau

Cam Zink
One of Cam’s favorite firearms is his Tikka T3 Tactical .308. (ADRIAN MARCOUX PHOTOGRAPHY)

[su_dropcap style=”light” size=”4″]S[/su_dropcap]o, why would a shooting magazine reach out for an interview with a world-record-holding mountain bike rider/jumper/guru? Well, because he also totes a gun and hunts. In fact he comes from a family of hunters and totes many guns.

That’s why! Another reason we reached out to this young man was to demonstrate that gun owners, CCW carriers and hunters come from some of the most unlikely places. Think of the new generation of youth shooters who are paving the way for an ever-growing firearms-friendly community. Cam Zink represents that new generation, and while his livelihood is not in the industry, he is a brother in arms. I would like to introduce the shooting community to Cam Zink who made the Guinness Book of World Records – the first time – by completing a 100-foot, dirt-to-dirt backflip jump on a mountain bike. However, that wasn’t enough, so he followed that up by completing an astounding 120-foot straight-air jump, at the same location, earning him a second world record title for the longest dirt-to-dirt jump. Stand by for a second – just announcing that feat left me out of breath. Enjoy getting to know Cam Zink.


American Shooting Journal Hello, Cam, thanks for talking to us.

Cam Zink My pleasure.

ASJ Can you tell us a little bit about how you got started with guns, or where the influence came from?

CZ Well, it was a family thing. My father was an avid shooter and started taking us out hunting when I was pretty young. The first gun I ever shot was a .22, but the very first deerhunting rifle I ever owned was a .243 Winchester.

When he is not shooting, Cam and his brother Howie run YT USA, a mountain bike manufacturing company based in Reno. (IAN COLLINS PHOTOGRAPHY)

ASJ What did you think about hunting when you first started?

CZ Like I said, it was a family thing. It’s just what we did together. My brother Howie and I were just happy to be out with our dad.

ASJ What does your father do?

CZ He used to run a T-shirt, embroidery and screen-printing business, but is now semiretired. He is currently remodeling the house they live in to flip it. He has done everything in his life, including being an electrician, which helps with his new semivocation.

Cam ZinkASJ And your mother?

CZ My mom was a real estate agent, so she couldn’t take off work to take us to races like my dad could, but she came when she could, and we loved it!

ASJ How did you get started with mountain bikes?

CZ I started out like any other kid, riding bikes around the neighborhood. We had some school yard jumps, and I guess I realized around then that I had a bit more of a natural talent for riding. Later, one of my dad’s friends, Stan Fail, started a bike-component company called Kooka. He brought some high-end bikes into my dad’s shop, and my dad was super intrigued. That’s when my dad bought us our own mountain bikes, and Stan brought us to some races. The rest is history.

ASJ Does your brother hunt and ride as well?

CZ He does, and is currently the chief operating officer for YT USA, the North American franchise for YT Industries, which is the bike company that also sponsors me. Howie was always my hero growing up because he was so naturally gifted in all types of riding. When he got older and bought his first car, he started hanging out with girls. Bike riding took a back seat for him then.

Cam and Howie Zink
With a father who was an avid hunt, Cam (left) and Howie were raised to love the outdoors and be shooters. This and mountain biking was always a part of family outings. (IAN COLLINS PHOTOGRAPHY)

ASJ Tell us more about YT USA.

CZ YT is a German-engineered mountain bike manufacturer that was solely in Europe until recently. They have now expanded to North America, Australia and New Zealand. What sets them apart is their bikes are sold directly to the public via the internet. No middleman, which keeps costs low. My brother and I run the North American franchise for them out of Reno, Nev.

PHOTO 4 Cam as a KidASJ So, when you say low prices, what are we talking about?

CZ Prices range from around $900 to $5,400.

ASJ Wow, it sounds like there is a full range of bikes for all levels. Tell us about your favorite guns, or better yet, the guns you own.

CZ I have several different models, all for different reasons. My daily carry is a Ruger LC9, but the trigger is a bit annoying. Other than that, I have a S&W .40-caliber handgun and .22 revolver, a Remington 20-gauge shotgun and .243 rifle, a Tikka T3 Tactical .308, an H&K .45 and, of course, an AR-15.

Cam and Howie on one of their family’s camping and outdoor trips. (CAM ZINK)

ASJ What type of guns are you looking to add to the family?

CZ I really want a Kimber Solo. My dad has one, and it is the best subcompact I’ve ever seen. I also want to get a .300 AAC Blackout as well, especially now that I am sponsored by SilencerCo., an industry leader in silencers for firearms.

ASJ You mentioned that you have hunted. Tell us about that. What have you hunted so far?

CZ I have only successfully shot one deer with my dad under a junior tag, and have been on several antelope and deer hunts with friends. I love duck hunting too, and in the next few years I’m going to make it up to Montana to hunt deer again.

Among activities such as extreme mountain biking, film making, shooting and his new family. Cam works hard running his and his brother Howie’s business. (IAN COLLINS PHOTOGRAPHY)

ASJ I know you are involved with the creation of a charity that means a lot to you. Can you tell us why you started it and what it offers?

CZ It’s called Sensus RAD Trails, and I simply started it to build better bike trails. There are many organizations out there that build questionable trails, and take an

ASJ You have a huge following of fans who look up to you. Who inspires you?

CZ I look up to many different people, all for different reasons. I have a lot of diverse goals with my business, riding, life, family, writing, film making, shooting, etc. The people I look up to most are: Shaun Palmer, a professional snowboarder, skier, mountain biker and motocross rider who USA Today once put on the cover titled The World’s Greatest Athlete; Hunter S. Thompson, the late journalist, author and founder of the gonzo-journalism movement;Corey Bohan, an Australian BMX X-Games superstar; Rob Dyrdek, a professional skateboarder who founded Street League Skateboarding and holds 21 separate Guinness Book Of World Records for skateboarding; Travis Pastrana, X-Games gold-medal champion in several events, including supercross, motocross, freestyle motocross and rally racing, but mostly known for being an outrageous daredevil; and Johnny Knoxville, who is an actor, comedian, film producer, screenwriter and stunt performer.

Cam’s daughter, Ayla Zink, is on her way to a world championship dirt-bike title. We might have to wait a couple more years, though. (CAM ZINK)

ASJ Do you have any regrets in life so far?

CZ I try not to have regrets, but if I did, it would be some of the stupid things we did as teenagers. It’s impossible to change the past, so it’s hard to harbor regrets if you plan on changing the future [grin].

ASJ Do you have any new projects up and coming or anything we should be watching for?

CZ I completed a movie that just came out called Cam Zink: Reach For The Sky, and you can see it on iTunes, Google Play, Amazon Video and a few other places.

ASJ We will definitely check that out, Cam. Thanks for talking to us.

CZ Thanks for having me. ASJ

Cam Zink

Ian Collins and Adrian Marcoux

AM_Zink-Wed_Fuji-150914-294-min

The Purple Heart Of A Lion – Jose Martinez

[su_heading size=”21″ margin=”0″]Veteran And Triple-amputee Jose Martinez Isn’t Giving Up [/su_heading]

Story by Troy Rodakowski • Photographs by Veteran Sportsman Alliance

TOC FEATURE 1 Jose Martinez

[su_dropcap style=”light” size=”4″]G[/su_dropcap]rowing up in Compton, Calif., wouldn’t be easy for anyone. This is a part of our country where gang violence and drugs are prevalent and tough to steer clear from. However, for Jose Martinez, living near these negative distractions was a way of life where he did his best to survive and make smart decisions.

PHOTO 2 JOse at the fireplace -minIn an effort to better himself, Martinez enlisted in the US Army to serve our country in Afghanistan. He was in the infantry division and stationed near Kandahar where his unit saw regular action. “There was rarely a mission that we didn’t have a few casualties, or at least get shot at,” says Specialist Martinez a three-year Army infantryman. His plans were to make a career of the military because, among many aspects, he enjoyed the camaraderie, stability and brotherhood it provided.

As a kid, Martinez struggled with his weight and self-esteem, finding it hard to think highly of himself. When he got older and lost weight, he learned to appreciate who he was as a person and stood a little bit taller. Prior to departing for Afghanistan he met a met a very nice lady through friends and they hit it off. After he deployed, he would make a point to contact her after missions, send her flowers on Valentine’s Day and keep in touch regularly. Little did he know that one day she would be his rock, eventually becoming his wife and life partner.

Jose MartinezOn a routine mission Martinez encountered an improvised explosive device (IED) that rendered him unconscious and disfigured his body. The injuries he sustained would change his life forever in so many ways. “When I woke up I was disgusted with myself and my body, just as I had been during my childhood.” The explosion cost him both of his legs and an arm. The doctors had informed him that he would be permanently attached to a wheelchair and would be lucky if he would ever be able to stand for five minutes, let alone walk.

Martinez was determined to prove the doctors wrong and now spends the majority of his time on his prosthetics, regardless of the pain they cause him by constantly breaking skin around his waistline. “This is just a small price I pay to feel somewhat normal,” says Martinez. Learning to love his body has once again become a constant struggle. He is missing limbs and is badly scarred.

Jose Martinez

During the first stages of recovery Martinez was consumed by prescription pills. Often times, he felt using pills would help him sleep and forget that he had lost his arm and both legs. In fact, there were several instances when he tried consuming so many pills in hopes of not waking up. The pills were helping him run away from the reality that was ugly and disgusting. That being said, we are reminded that 22 veterans a day commit suicide, and that most narcotics just numb the pain until the cliff of depression consumes them. Martinez is proud to say he has not taken a pill in well over two years and regularly reminds others that pills are not always the best answer. “If I were still on pills, I’d be in the corner scared to leave my house, and that’s not me,” explains Jose.
GROUP 1 IMG_8268-minGROUP 3 IMG_8371-min

Martinez is thankful to several people who he has encountered during recovery, and helped him defy all odds by learning to walk – he can now truly stand proud. “I have learned to love every part of me all over again,” says Martinez. Venturing out into public for the first few times was difficult, both physically and mentally. When people stared, it was tough for him to ignore the looks. His wife always reminded him that it really didn’t matter what people thought since he wouldn’t be seeing them again anyway. “Having her by my side throughout this entire process has given me a realistic hope in humanity. She has shown me how proud she is and I love standing tall next to her,” explains Martinez.

The Dog Zoey
Family member Zoey

Never forgetting his roots and how tough life was and can be, Martinez now regularly engages in motivational speaking for school kids, veterans and other groups. “I get nervous, my heart races and palms sweat, but before I know it I’m done talking and time has flown by,” says Martinez. He enjoys telling folks that nothing is impossible and that if you put your mind to it, you will be successful! Motivating people brings a huge smile to his face, as he is able to show others that success with anything comes from the inside.

Growing up, Martinez idolized Michael Jordan and owned several pairs of his sneakers, some of which he still wears today. Just as Jordan never gave up, nor has Martinez, and he uses that same outlook to persevere under any circumstances. He understands that there will be setbacks and failures on the journey of life, but remains very determined to defy the odds. “I want kids to grow up and truly believe that they can be what they desire, spark their imagination and inspire them to dream,” says Martinez. Through all of this he remains humble, and says that he is just doing his job by helping others.

Prior to joining the military he had never hunted or fished, let alone fired a rifle. Growing up he always wanted to learn, and appreciated that people could independently feed themselves in these ways. “Hunting and being able to provide for my family seems very American to me,” he says. “I never imagined I’d be capable of, or even have the opportunity to hunt, especially after my injuries.”

Veterans Sportsman Alliance
The VSA warrior shield is presented to every hero who becomes a VSA member.

In August 2013 Martinez was on a diving trip off the Caribbean island of Bonaire when he met a guy named Hugh. Hugh had promised him that he would get him shooting again, so the two exchanged numbers. A couple months later Hugh called and invited Martinez on a pheasant hunt in Sioux Falls, S.D. “Hugh helped me learn how to shoot all over again, and I haven’t stopped hunting ever since. I cannot thank that man enough,” says Jose. Since then he has embarked on several adventures hunting hogs, elk and other critters with assistance from Lonestar Warriors Outdoors and the Veterans Sportsman Alliance, an organization dedicated to wounded veterans and whose motto is, “Benefiting the most worthy among us.” Actually, the VSA has become Martinez’s second family.

Jose Martinez
Jose Martinez took this amazing bull elk in Arizona at the Dunton Ranch North Fort Rock sponsored by the Veterans Sportsman Alliance. His rifle of choice? A Remington 700, 7mm mag, bedded with a floated barrel, Timney trigger, Nightforce Optic and some other secret tweaks built by his friend Robert Wise.

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Hunting has provided Jose with the motivation to become better at walking so that he will eventually be able to hunt different types of terrain. Being outdoors makes him feel human again. He feels as if he has no wounds, and is part of the natural world without judgement. Martinez is able to push his body to the limit, and challenge himself to walk on his prosthetics, which in turn makes him feel invigorated and free.

Jose Martinez
Jose Martinez has a family, but unlike many, he has a second family and that is the Veterans Sportman Alliance, a group dedicated to veterans and getting them out hunting, fishing and just about any other type of activity that leads to healthy, positive lives.

Jose wants today’s children to understand that hard work does pay off. “If kids just had the opportunities to explore sports like football, basketball, archery, skiing or shooting without worrying about money, that would be amazing,” says Jose. He would love to help organizations that reward kids for making good grades with these sorts of activities. In addition, through motivational speaking he hopes to encourage veterans to be outdoors, enjoy nature and heal emotionally. I asked him if he could say one thing to veterans returning from combat. He replied, “No matter what, you aren’t alone, there are people who truly care for you and will help.”

Jose Martinez is a Purple Heart recipient and modern-day hero. That is truly an inspiration for anyone. He is living proof that the American dream is possible, regardless of one’s disabilities or humble beginnings. ASJ

The Veterans Sportsman Alliance presented Martinez with this S&W 460XVR complete with a 14-inch barrel, muzzle brake, Leupold FX-II Handgun 4x28mm optic and bipod, all built by the Smith & Wesson Performance Center. This hand cannon came with a Sandstorm custom rifle sling and Hornady 460 S&W 200-grain FTX ammunition, and the entire package was customized specifically to fit Martinez and his needs. According to S&W, this gun offers the highest muzzle velocity of any production revolver on earth.

Editor’s note: For more information on the Veterans Sportsman Alliance and what they do for our veterans, or how you can help, visit them at veteransportmanalliance.org. The American Shooting Journal featured jose Martinez on the cover of their November 2015 veteran’s issue. 

Veteran Sportsman Alliance

American Shooting Journal November 2015 Cover