I grew up in Oklahoma, way out in the middle of nowhere, on the Oklahoma/Kansas state line. I was introduced to firearms at an early age by my grandfather. I can remember, as far back as three or four years old, sitting on the back deck shooting a Ruger 10/22. I spent every waking moment with him absorbing every lesson from tying the proper knot for bass fishing, to identifying the different animals by their tracks while hunting.
To this day, my love and appreciation for firearms and the outdoors still rages on. Competitive shooting didn’t become a big part of my life until about two years ago, when I decided to enter a local 3gun match and put my skills to the test. It was an eye opening experience which sparked a newfound love for shooting. Since then, I’ve spent many hours and thousands of rounds of ammunition honing my skills for the next competition.
Only recently did my dedication pay off, when I entered a new televised shooting competition. I heard a radio ad talking about an amateur shooting match called the American Marksman. I did a quick Google search, registered, and was off the following weekend to shoot a local qualifier. Out of 5 states I qualified in the top 80 shooters and was invited to shoot a regional match at the CMP Talladega Marksmanship Park. It was a two day match compiled of several firearms and calibers. After the second day, I shot the fastest time on the 100 yard rifle stage, which gave me the top point lead and landed me a seat at the Nationals.
The American Marksman Nationals was a 37 shooter, combined division battle. I managed to come out of the first day with the second highest point lead and a stage win. It wasn’t until the second day that we shot head to head double elimination rounds that brought the total number of shooters to 10. A hiccup in a precision rifle stage ended my run for 1st place, but just making it there was a victory in itself. No prize could amount to the awesome people I got to meet and true friends that were made during the competition.
I currently work for my stepfather’s construction company and am a part time firearms instructor. When I’m not working or tackling different projects around the house, I spend a lot of my time practicing for my next competition. I typically don’t see the shooting range until the weekend, so I use my weekdays to practice dry firing, reloading, or drawing from a holster. The competitive side is what drives the monotonous hours of practice but the comradery and friendship that surrounds the sport is the ultimate reward. To me, it is one of the best ways to practice my 2nd amendment rights and I would suggest to anyone who loves to shoot guns to get out and find a local match. Not only will you learn a tremendous amount of shooting skills and firearm safety, but you just might discover that inner joy that you can date back to your childhood days.
Written by Seth Franco