Team Smith & Wesson’s Trevor Baucom: Go Big or Go Home!

If you’re thinking about getting into competitive shooting, you could always start small, maybe with a local club match. Of you could just go and enter the most challenging competition there is – the Bianchi Cup. That’s what Team Smith & Wesson’s Trevor Baucom did. Oh, and he did it from a wheelchair. You see, Trevor is a medically retired Chief Warrant Officer and Blackhawk Pilot who was paralyzed in a crash during a night assault mission in Afghanistan. Now, as a sponsored competitive shooter, he’s opening doors to the shooting sports for lots of folks.

Trevor Baucom, Team Smith & Wesson

We caught up with Team Smith & Wesson’s Trevor Baucom at SHOT Show 2013.

We had a lot of fun talking with Trevor Baucom. Here’s what we learned…

My Gun Culture: So Trevor, if we have our facts straight, you’re a relatively new addition to Team Smith & Wesson. Didn’t you join the team sometime in mid-2011?

Trevor Baucom: That’s right, I was formally introduced as a team member at the NRA Annual Meeting in 2011 in Pittsburgh.

MGC: Now for the interesting part – was your first major competition really the The 2011 Bianchi Cup National Championship?

Trevor: Well no, not really. Bianchi was my FIRST shooting competition PERIOD! I had shot plenty just playing around, but never anything in terms of serious competition. After a couple of months of training, Bianchi was the first match I ever shot!

MGC: Ummm, that’s kind of like learning how to read by picking up a copy of War and Peace isn’t it? For those who aren’t familiar, the Bianchi Cup is the most brutal test of handgun shooting skill.

Trevor: It’s all about accuracy. Meaning out to 50 yards with a handgun kind of accuracy.

MGC: So were you completely high on drugs to venture into competitive shooting this way?

Trevor: Nah… That was the first one and I kind of think “Go big or go home!” I had a blast and it was really fun.

MGC: So how did you do?

Trevor: Well, I didn’t come close to winning. Doug Koenig has nothing to fear from me! I’ll improve on it as I go. My goal is always to outdo myself every year. Hey I didn’t come in last place either…

MGC: How did the whole Smith & Wesson thing come about? Tell us about the chain of events that got you here.

Trevor: I had just gotten out of the hospital and was going to outpatient rehab. I was in and out of the rehab facility and I saw this car with GUNS-TV on the license plate and I thought “That’s pretty cool.” Then I saw a 2nd Ranger Battalion license plate on the front of the car. And I did my first five years in the Army in the 1st Ranger Battalion so I go out there one day and see a bunch of guys talking by that car. So I went over and asked who the Ranger was. The guy answered that it was actually his son, and it turned out the guy was Jim Scoutten, host of Shooting USA. Anyway, over the next week or so, we talked more and one thing led to another. He introduced me to the folks at Smith & Wesson and here we are.

MGC: Now you also shoot Steel Challenge right?

Trevor: Yes sir!

MGC: How’s that going for you?

Trevor: It’s a blast, I love Steel Challenge. I did the World Shoot the past couple of years. I’ve been improving my times year over year and did the Nationals this year.

MGC: We also heard that you’re starting into 3 Gun competition as well?

Trevor: I am. I am shooting the match in July at Rock Castle. That’s going to be my first major 3 Gun match. Ithaca Gun Company has sponsored me. They don’t offer a semi-auto shotgun, so I have to shoot the Heavy Metal class. So I’m going hard core!

MGC: Let’s talk about your competition guns. For Bianchi and Steel Challenge what are you using?

Trevor: I’m shooting the Smith & Wesson M&P Pro Series with a 5 inch barrel. I’ve got a production version and an Open Class M&P that Apex Tactical has fixed up for me. For Steel Nationals, I’m going to shoot the new Smith & Wesson M&P Core. For 3 Gun I’ll be shooting a Smith & Wesson M&P AR, probably the 300 Whisper. So I’ll still be shooting the .30 caliber for Heavy Metal, but with a little less pop. Then I’ll use one of the Smith & Wesson M&P Core’s in .45 ACP for the pistol and of course an Ithaca Model 37 pump shotgun.

MGC: So with all that, you’ll leave Rock Castle with a nice, sore, shoulder…

Trevor: Nah, it’s alright. They hooked me up with a really nice recoil reducer. It has a strut inside that soaks up a lot of the recoil. I did a charity trap shoot with it a couple weeks ago and it was fine.

MGC: Let’s talk about hunting. You live in Tennessee right? Lot’s of hunting opportunities there, so what do you enjoy?

Trevor: There’s lot’s of hunting and fishing. I hunt deer, turkey, and HAVA (Honored American Veterans Afield) is working on getting me out for an elk hunt too.

MGC: So how was your deer season this year?

Trevor: I didn’t get out very much at all. But, my oldest son got his first deer. It ended up being a management buck, but it was bigger than the 10 pointer it was hanging next to in the freezer. So while it was a management buck, it was a big one. So that was the only one we got this year as we just didn’t get out enough. Turkey season is great because I don’t have to go anywhere. The farmer behind us has given us free rein to hunt 300 acres for Turkey. So as long as I don’t shoot his cows, I’m OK!

MGC: No worries, I’m sure the Bianchi Cup stuff has got your accuracy all set. So, since you’re an Army Ranger veteran and probably expert on this topic, you can settle a long-standing debate. My wife and I have been arguing over the best home-defense gun. I think it’s an MK19 Automatic Grenade Launcher, but she’s worried about the blast radius and collateral damage. What say you? Settle this for us, please.

Trevor: I got this. I coach soccer, and one of the soccer parents asked me about home-defense a couple of weeks ago. Her husband is deployed and there is a lot of construction where she lives, so there are lots of strangers coming and going at weird times. She went shopping for pistols and couldn’t figure out what she needed. I told her, look, we’ll get you a pump shotgun. First of all, the noise is going to scare the hell out of anybody. If someone tries to break in, take your boys into the bedroom, and if someone tries to come in, shoot them right in the junk! He’s not gonna mess with you any more! So that’s where I’m at. Load it with light bird shot – you don’t have to have anything heavy. It’s not gonna go through walls. If you hit him below the belt, he’s going to stop. And a pump shotgun has follow-up rounds if you need them. A shotgun is harder to miss with than a pistol and it’s not going to go through walls and such.

MGC: Remind me never to break into your house… So what’s your schedule for the year looking like?

Trevor: I’m competing about once a month on average. What I really love is doing HAVA shoots. I love going HAVA because you’ll get guys out there and see a 180 degree attitude change. We had a quadriplegic who hadn’t been able to get out. We set him up with a friend operating the stick because he can’t move anything. They had the sip and puff trigger where you blow into it and it shoots the gun. That guy went from not saying a word to anyone and moping to having a huge smile after the second round. He was happy, having fun, and talking to everybody. That’s why I love HAVA. You get the wives and kids out there. They teach everyone gun safety first and get them shooting. It’s a great organization.


We’d like to thank Trevor Baucom and Team Smith & Wesson for helping us get Trevor’s story out there. If you haven’t tried competitive shooting, you now have no excuse! No need to start with the Bianchi Cup though. You can leave that to Trevor.

Michelle Viscusi: Team Glock’s Military Police Enforcer & Former Gymnast

Michelle Viscusi Team Glock

Team Glock’s Michelle Viscusi

Today we’re talking with Team Glock Shooter, Top Shot contestant, Border Patrol scout and former Army Military Police veteran Michelle Viscusi. We expect to hear scandalous stories about the many times she had to arrest Glock teammate KC Eusebio, also retired Army, at some hole-in-the-wall border cantina. Let’s get to the bottom of the rumors…

My Gun Culture: So Michelle, from a look at your background, I see that you’ve served in the Army Military Police and Border Patrol. Can you give us a bit more background on that?

Michelle Viscusi: I’ve actually served in the Army National Guard. My time with Border Patrol was during my active duty with the Army. I was assigned to border patrol duties for about a year and a half. So I was still Army, just working with my counterparts at Border Patrol.

MGC: So you were busting people coming across the border and engaging in big firefights with drug cartels?

Michelle: Actually, our duty was more of an observe and report role…

MGC: So you were piloting attack drones then?

Michelle: No, unfortunately we didn’t get to do any cool things like that. I wish!

MGC: We just talked with KC Eusebio, who is also retired Army. Since you were part of the Army Military Police, I suspect you had some run ins with him. How many times did you have to arrest KC at some Tijuana bar for conduct unbecoming of an Army soldier? We expect the truth, so no trying to cover for your teammate!

Michelle: I wish I could give you a huge story…

MGC: Well, just make one up!

Michelle: He doesn’t even drink, so there’s no way I could have arrested him at a Mexican bar.

MGC: Maybe he just likes to fight in bars?

Michelle: Well, maybe we brought him in about 5 times then…

MGC: So, Military police huh? I’m standing here next to you and I’m about twice as fat as you. I’m trying to picture you wrestling and cuffing drunk angry  dudes…

Michelle: Are you calling me fat?

MGC: No, I’m calling ME fat. What do you do as an MP? Are you out arresting people and throwing them in the brig?

Michelle: Well, actually I’m not LEO (law enforcement officer), I’m more general purpose duty.

MGC: Let’s talk about Top Shot! We’re big fans and loved your season. What changed in your life the day after the first episode aired?

Michelle: My life has completely changed! The show helped me to get here! It’s interesting because my time in the military helped me get on Top Shot, and Top Shot helped get me into competition shooting representing Glock. Obviously I wasn’t on there a really long time, but I’m thankful to have a good following!

MGC: How did you decide to apply for the show?

Michelle: I was watching Season 2 and loved it. I sent in an email and photo and I heard back about 3 weeks later. From that point, it was just following the application process.

MGC: So did you shoot Glocks before joining Team Glock?

Michelle: Well, actually, the first gun I ever owned was a Glock 19, so I’ve always been crazy about Glocks.

MGC: How old were you when you got your first Glock?

Michelle: Ummm….. 21? Yeah, it must have been 21… But seriously I started shooting my own Glock 19 when I was 19. But I started shooting when I was 15. When I started shooting competition, I started shooting a Glock 34.

MGC: Tell us about the first time you ever shot a gun.

Michelle: Well I was 15 and my dad took me to the range, just for fun! I was nervous but loved it. My dad was a cop, so he had a gun and shot quite a bit.

MGC: Were you instantly hooked or was shooting just something you did now and then?

Michelle: Well actually at the time, I was really big into gymnastics – that was what I was going to do. But when I joined the Army, I really grew to love shooting – so that’s when I got really serious about it.

MGC: Tell us how many Glocks you own. You can round off to the nearest dozen.

Michelle: We’ll right now, I only own two. But I expect that to be changing this year when I start competing more.

MGC: How much time do you expect to be on the road competing this year?

Michelle: It’s averaging 1-2 weeks per month. My schedule seems to be about 2 competitions per month, but I am shooting and preparing for a week around each one.

MGC: Tell us about the equipment you’ll be using this year.

Michelle: I’ll mostly be shooting a Glock 34, but will use a Glock 17 for some divisions. I’m doing both IPSC and IDPA. I use a JR Holster.

MGC: So what’s it like jetting around the world in the Glock corporate jet?

Michelle: It’s awesome! There’s usually a pile of cash waiting on my seat along with champagne :-)

MGC: We ask everybody to weigh in and solve a long standing debate question. Do you think that an MK19 Automatic Grenade Launcher is appropriate for home defense?

Michelle: We’ll only if it had a Glock Gen 5 logo on the side. And I would put one in each window, facing out, to minimize blast damage in the house.

MGC: Let’s finish up with a hypothetical question. The Gunny, R. Lee Ermey, also represents Glock. If you had to bust him for disorderly conduct, could you take him down alone, or would you have to call for backup?

Michelle: You know, I’d probably have to call for backup, but I’d give him a good fight!

Thanks to Michelle Viscusi and the nice folks from Glock for helping us catch up and learn a little more about Glock’s newest competitive shooter!

Talking, Talking and More Talking with Max Michel of Team Sig

When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for one… to attempt to interview another one, who is every bit as nutty as the first one, one looks for Team Sig’s Max Michel.

So we did. We caught up with Max at SHOT Show and dragged him away from the screaming fans and corporate endorsement dealmakers long enough to squeeze in a serious investigative report. Remember folks, you heard it here first…

Champion Shooter Max Michel of Team Sig

Champion Shooter Max Michel of Team Sig

My Gun Culture: So Max, I understand you’re Captain of Team Sig. How is your relationship with all the other Team Sig members?

Max Michel: I treated them pretty fairly. But I had to fire them all, you know?

MGC: So, right now, it’s just you on Team Sig???

Max: Yeah, exactly! I had about 5 other guys and they just started cramping my style and cutting into my budget. And I thought, “I just can’t have that” so I had to release them.

MGC: Well if you’re into world domination, you gotta take out the internal competition. Just ask Dr. Evil or maybe Ernst Stavro Blofeld.

Max: That’s the first thing to do!

MGC: You’re also the Manager of Shooting Activities. What’s in the scope of that role for you?

Max: I think what’s interesting about Sig Sauer is that’s it’s a very well-known company. Most everybody knows of Sig – you don’t have to be a gun person. Sig Sauer has always had that military and law enforcement reputation – you know, “to hell and back reliability.” They brought me in about four years ago to help bring them into the competitive market. So, to the traditional Sig values of reliability, I bring about 20 years of practical competitive shooting experience. I help to coordinate our position in competitive and recreational shooting. For example, I look at things like where we want to compete, what we want to sponsor, what do we want to support and emphasize for the year, and that sort of thing. In short, I help bridge the gap between the company and the competitive shooting world.

MGC: Does this liaison role of yours also extend into Sig’s product development strategy?

Max: Most definitely. I’m really excited about that part! The product and marketing teams come to me for input, and I love that. I love those conversations. In fact, I just enjoy talking!

MGC: Well I can already tell this interview is going to take about three days…

Max: I have a flight on Friday, so as long as I make that, we’re good!

MGC: Is there a specific Sig gun that you personally point to and say “I’m especially proud of that one because I had a lot of input”?

Max: Absolutely. That would be the 1911 Max. I’ve been screaming to get a gun for a long time that is built from the ground up as a competitive model. The product team was really receptive to my ideas. In fact, I pushed for a lot of aftermarket parts on that model and the product guys were completely open to that. Now I’m pushing for a new 1911 Max. But I can’t talk about that just yet…

MGC: Tease! The original 1911 Max is available now right? Can you tell us a little about it?

Max: We launched it at SHOT Show 2012 and we took it slow as there are aftermarket parts and we needed to make sure the whole package met Sig’s quality and reliability standards. It’s a target 1911 gun that has been enhanced with competitive parts. Like Hogue G10 chain link grips, a custom mag well that’s an extension of the grip, adjustable rear sight with a fiber optic front sight, front and rear cocking serrations, wide safeties, a flat trigger, the Doug Koenig speed hammer and matching sear, and extended firing pin.

MGC: So with the Koenig custom hammer, do you have any concerns that it’s really a subversive plot by Smith & Wesson to sabotage the Sig 1911 Max? Maybe it’s specially designed to self-destruct like those old Mission Impossible tape recorders…

Max: I’m worried that I’m going to lose my job when someone realizes I put in my competitors part! Just to be clear, the hammer is a Doug Koening part and not a Smith & Wesson part. Maybe this will encourage Sig to make some Max Michel parts!

MGC: So you’ve won everything there is to win about infinity-eleven times. Last I looked it was about 100 championship titles. What gives? You and Lance Armstrong are doing what on the weekends?

Max: No comment… Actually it’s just a passion of mine. I love it. I’ve been doing this since I was 8 years old. It’s not work for me, it’s fun and not a job. When I was 13 I had a goal and purpose to have the type of job that I have today. I wanted to be the next Rob Leatham! But you know, that guy just won’t retire!

MGC: We interviewed Rob several months ago, and he said the only reason he’s staying in the sport is to crush and humiliate you! Let’s talk about your show Hot Shots. You know, the one with you and Charlie Sheen. It’s about Navy Seals or something right?

Max: Yeah right! Me and Charlie Sheen… Hot Shots is a show that illustrates the real life drama of what it’s like to be a pro shooter. People get to see the real deal and all the things behind the scenes. The practice, the work, competition and family life balance. I like how the show is done because the producers just tell me to be Max. There are plenty of times when I’m not happy on camera, but that can be reality. When you’re not winning, you’re not happy. I like the realism.

MGC: Are you planning on getting into the Three Gun circuit? Now Sig has ⅔ of the bases covered with pistols and rifles right?

Max: It’s coming and I’m looking forward to it.

MGC: Everybody and their brother wants to sponsor you and obviously that’s because of your good looks.

Max: And my bald head of course…

MGC: I told you I wasn’t going to ask you about any secret future plans, but I was lying. I’m hearing that you have a sponsorship deal in the works with Snuggies. Care to comment?

Max: I hope so! I’ve got three kids now and I have to prepare for everybody.

MGC: How much time do you spend on the road doing competitions?

Max: I typically spend about nine to ten months on the road, so it’s a pretty heavy schedule. Of course I’m stopping by home, but I never really unpack. It’s a pretty grueling schedule, but I enjoy doing it and hope I can keep doing it for ten or fifteen more years.

MGC: Do you have an idea of how many rounds per year you shoot in practice? What does it take to keep the edge in a sport that can be won or lost by hundredths of seconds?

Max: A lot of people don’t believe it, but there was a time when I was in the Army when I was shooting 5,000 rounds a week for ten months out of the year. These days I just don’t have that much time. I shoot maybe 40,000 to 60,000 rounds a year now. The trick is finding time to practice while you develop other ways to add value to the company that sponsors you. You can’t just focus on winning matches. You have to be a representative of the company and bring value in other ways too.

Max Michel Training AcademyMGC: You do a lot of training. If you had to pick one basic tip for new shooters, where would you steer someone first?

Max: Safety is always first of course. Before any tips, you need instruction on how to safely handle the gun – loading and unloading, storing and general handling. Once that’s covered, I tell people the biggest things to focus on are stance and grip. You’ll be surprised how quickly and accurately you can shoot with proper grip and stance. It’s funny, but I tell people in my classes to expect to be bored the first few hours because I go back to the basics. If you ask other shooters like Rob Leatham, they’re working on those basic fundamentals too. There’s no such thing as advanced shooting, there’s only advanced application of basic fundamentals.

MGC: What are some of the new guns from Sig this year?

Max: We’ve got a lot of new introductions. For example, the P227, which is a double stack .45. It comes in a number of configurations, so you can get options like a threaded barrel. We had quite a challenge designing the 227 so that it’s not too big in your hand, but it worked out really well. You can hardly tell the difference in your hand between a 226 and a 227, but the 227 has 10 rounds of .45 ACP. We also have the P226 SAO which is really nice. I love Sig’s implementation of single action in this gun.

MGC: Before we wrap up, can you tell our readers a little bit about about the Max Michel Training Academy.

Max: It’s aimed at all types of shooters – recreational, competitive, self defense, and law enforcement or military. Basically I teach anyone who wants to get better with a handgun or a rifle. I do maybe a half dozen courses a year at my home range and contract some remote locations throughout the year. For some of the tactical training, I partner with the VATA Training Group and they do an excellent job. The fun thing is that we train anyone – from a raw beginner who has never drawn a gun to military and law enforcement professionals. I love it!


We’d like to thank Max and Team Sig for being such great sports, sharing some knowledge and continuing to make fantastic guns! Check out some training opportunities at the Max Michel Training Academy, and you can always keep up with Max and his plans for world domination at

A Molly Minute with Molly Smith – Team Smith & Wesson’s Youngest Shooter

Recently we had the good fortune to catch up with Pro Shooter Molly Smith of Team Smith & Wesson. This was no small feat as this lady is seriously on the go. Ever see The Flash from DC Comics? Well, she’s kind of like that…

My Gun Culture: So Molly, we’ve heard you called a lot of things…

Molly Smith Team Smith & Wesson Pro Shooter

We caught up with Team Smith & Wesson Pro Shooter Molly Smith at the 2013 SHOT Show.

Molly Smith: WHAT???

MGC: No, just kidding, not that! Like Molly Minute and Millisecond Molly. We heard about those nicknames from our friends over at Women’s Outdoor News. How on earth did you manage to get involved with a bunch of crazy chicks like them?

Molly: Well, I’m not exactly sure how it happened… I have a blog and through my blogging I’ve been able to go to various things like the Gun Blogger Rendezvous in Reno – that is one of my absolute favorite events – it’s fantastic! Different events like that get me connected with folks around the internet community. Also I’ve been reading Women’s Outdoor News and other sites that are encouraging women shooters. It’s made me want to contribute as well.

MGC: I saw that you recently participated in a mock Second Amendment trial. Was that a school event?

Molly: It’s a statewide competition. I’m from California and every year there is a new case with a different theme. There are two parts and I was involved with the Second Amendment portion. It was a murder case where a gun was not used, but one was found in the perpetrators car. So my part of the debate was related to whether the defendant was allowed to have that pistol and whether there should be additional charges. I got to reference recent big cases like Heller and McDonald to make my arguments.

MGC: So, are you for, or against, the Second Amendment?

Molly: (Laughs. A lot. At our expense.)

MGC: OK, that was a trick question, but we’re going to make you answer it. So?

Molly: I am for rights! I am for more freedoms! I could write you a paper on my interpretation of the Constitution!

MGC: I’m part of Smith & Wesson’s background check network and we just making sure that their team members are up to snuff on these issues…

Molly: Umm, we have a problem???

MGC: So did you win?

Molly: Well, we did not go on to state, but that was not all my fault! It was a team effort and we did really well, however one school beats us every single year. But this year they are going down! This year’s topic is a 5th Amendment debate. I have a huge interest in constitutional law and I’m planning on going to law school as soon as I am able to so I can defend every freedom we have.

MGC: That’s fantastic!

Molly: Well, my mom wants me to marry Prince Harry, but I’d rather be a constitutional lawyer, or better yet, a Supreme Court Justice.

MGC: We’d love to see you on the Supreme Court! Let’s talk about competition. You’re Team Smith & Wesson’s youngest shooter. How did it feel when Smith & Wesson sent out the corporate jet to recruit you? How did this all start?

Molly: Well, I competed at my first International Revolver Championship when I was 10 and I was shooting a borrowed gun as I had only been shooting about 3 weeks at that time. But I didn’t come in last place! I came in second to last, behind a guy who didn’t finish, but that’s OK! I won a revolver there through a drawing. It was a Smith & Wesson 627 and that’s my gun of choice to this day. I’ve shot nearly every event with that same gun.

MGC: .38 Special right?

Molly: Exactly! 8 shot N frame. It was my second International Revolver Championship and I finished pretty well with second or third place for my junior division. After the match, Julie Golob came up. All the women were very nice. They blew me away! They were beautiful and friendly and the best shooters. I decided I wanted to be like them when I grew up. That was my determination at that age. So, Julie asked if I wanted a t-shirt. Then if I wanted a gun! And I was like OK!

MGC: So we hear you’re going to fill in while Julie is on maternity leave. Is there a coup in progress where you’re going to plot and scheme to take her position while she’s out?

Molly: Well actually it’s all a big conspiracy… Wait, you’re not gonna put that in the article!

MGC: So what’s coming up for you in 2013?

Molly: Well the Bianchi Cup. It’s a very difficult and challenging match. It makes my head hurt, and it’s fantastic, and I get so much out of it. It’s the most difficult match I’ve ever heard of and I love it. It teaches me so much, even by just competing in it. By the time the next match, which happens to be the International Revolver Championship, comes up for me, I am ready. I have the fundamentals engraved in my mind because I’ve been focusing so hard for months on the Bianchi Cup. I get to the IRC and then it’s a breeze for me and I have so much fun running around and going fast. I generally do much better at the IRC than Bianchi because I am better at it – that helps my self-esteem a little bit. I’m also thinking about starting Steel Challenge and then I’ll be starting to visit college campuses.

MGC: So is that this coming fall for you? Are you a senior?

Molly: I’m a junior, but I am aiming for some prestigious schools so I’m starting early.

MGC: Want to tell us which ones?

Molly: Well, I have plan A. And plan B. And plan C… I’m ultimately aiming for an Ivy League and hoping to go into Political Science or English and then into law. If I end up going to a California University I can knock almost two years off my undergraduate program as I’ve already been taking college classes. NYU and Georgetown are also schools that I’m looking at. I love Washington DC! I went there over the summer with the NRA Youth Education Summit. Best experience of my life! It was the most fantastic week I’ve ever had. If there are any Freshmen and Sophomores out there, look into this program!

MGC: How many Smith & Wesson guns do you have? You can round off to the nearest dozen…

Molly: Well, 3 actually. I don’t like having more than I need.

MGC: We’ll work on fixing that with the Smith & Wesson folks. What else do you want our readers to know?

Molly: My biggest goal right now is to promote gun safety, safe gun ownership and encouraging women and kids to shoot. I love to see more women and juniors out there shooting because it’s such a fantastic sport! I don’t like to see people afraid of firearms, because when they’re used safely, they’re a great instrument for fun. I really like to be an ambassador and encourage the sport.

We’d like to thank Molly for taking time to meet with us. Be sure to keep up with her via Smith & Wesson, and of course at The Molly Minute or Millisecond Molly at Women’s Outdoor News.

Our Interview With Massad Ayoob – He’s Not A Dancing With The Stars Contender

Massad Ayoob

Massad Ayoob

Recently I was invited to sit in on Massad Ayoob’s MAG-20 class. Lisa Marie and Tommy Judy run a great training business – B.E.L.T. Training – and were hosting Mr. / Officer / Instructor / Drill Sergeant / Coach / Counselor / Professor Ayoob’s four day MAG-40 class. They had space for me to sit in and observe the intense 2 day classroom portion which is separately offered as MAG-20. And when I say intense, I do mean intense. Ten to eleven hours each day. No breaks. No food. No water. Well, I might be exaggerating on the food, water, and break thing, but we didn’t dawdle and did in fact work right through lunch both days. So it was serious learning.

Here is where I would write many pithy and intellectual observations about the course and my experience with it. Or I could just be honest and tell you that this class scared the living be-jeepers out of me. And it did.

But in a good way.

You see, Mag-20, otherwise known as Armed Citizen Rules of Engagement, starts the process of preparing the student for legal, tactical, and aftermath management issues for the lawful armed citizen. The student is immersed in the frightening real-world scenarios that may result from even lawfully protecting yourself and loved ones. You’ll learn the difference between Castle Doctrine and Stand Your Ground laws. And much more. We’ll be doing a separate article talking more about the class experience. For now, let’s just say you need this type of training from a quality instructor. And you need it now. The fear this course generates is healthy and will inspire you to all new levels of preparation. That’s good.

Now back to the business at hand. Having read Massad Ayoob’s work in shooting, concealed carry, and training books, American Handgunner, Combat Handguns, and just about everywhere else, it was about time I was able to meet the man behind the mustache in person. Here’s what he had to say:

My Gun Culture: For those who are not familiar with your work, you’re a career cop, gun writer, self-defense and firearms trainer, legal adviser, expert witness, and competitive action shooter. So what are you going to be when you grow up?

Massad Ayoob: I was always a part-time cop, although fully sworn. That kept it fresh, and prevented burnout. When I grow up, I wanna be about six feet, maybe six feet two…

MGC: Oh I get it. You’re trying to out-wise guy me. I just want you to know that I’m a trained professional when it comes to being a doofus. Is a gig on Dancing with the Stars in your future?

Mas: Hell, son, at my age I’m grateful to WALK. If I ever look like I’m dancing, it’s probably only because I’m struggling to stay standing up.

MGC: Well, Buzz Aldrin did it! Then again, that was somewhat of a disaster… I just completed your MAG-20/Classroom – Armed Citizens’ Rules of Engagement class. It scared the living hell out of me. After a few days I managed to stop whimpering and get out of the fetal position, so I think I’ll be OK with some extra group therapy. For those new to self-defense and concealed carry, which of your dozen or so books would you recommend reading first to prime them for a live training class?

Mas: Damn…I failed you. We don’t usually teach shooting from the fetal position until the next level class… To prep for a MAG-40, I’d suggest reading Gun Digest Book of Concealed Carry, Gun Digest Book of Combat Handgunnery, In the Gravest Extreme, and Volume I of StressFire.

MGC: Just hypothetically speaking, if you are called as an expert witness, and Perry Mason is cross-examining the be-jeepers out of you, what strategy would you adopt? And no, begging for mercy is not an option. Nor is turning off the TV.

Mas: Same as always: by telling the truth as I see it, and explaining it to the cross-examiner and the jury. Wouldn’t happen, though, since Perry Mason (a FICTIONAL defense lawyer, remember) only defends the innocent, and I wouldn’t be speaking for the prosecution against someone shown by the evidence to be innocent.

MGC: So you caught trying a trick question. It’s my job OK? We ask all our interviewees this important question. As a respected self-defense expert, I think you might have some great insight on this question. Is the MK19 Automatic Grenade Launcher appropriate for home defense? Obviously a drawback is shrapnel damage to our home, and probably nearby neighbors. On the plus side, I think it has a great intimidation factor. What do you think?

Mas: Might have been awfully useful in Benghazi, but here…prolly not optimum.

MGC: Some of my favorite reads are “The Ayoob Files” in American Handgunner and “Self Defense and the Law” in Combat Handguns. While many are tragic, the real-life stories have powerful lessons. If you had to offer just one piece of advice to responsible citizens, what would that be? Yeah, I know, it’s a completely unfair question, but I am confident you can handle it!

Mas: Think about it to the nth degree beforehand, and be prepared…because when it happens, it will happen too fast to figure it out then.

MGC: Quick one. What was the first gun you ever owned? And do you still have it?

Mas: First very own gun was Eastern Arms 12-gauge single barrel. Still have it. First very own handgun was Ruger Standard Model .22 auto, age 11. Wish I still had it.

MGC: I wish I had your Ruger Standard Model .22 Auto also! You’re a busy man. What are you going to be most focused on in 2013?

Mas: Same as ever, one more year…what the year brings will impact the focus, as always…

We’d like to thank Mas Ayoob for sharing some time with our readers. He’s busy as always and devoting some of his precious time to serve on the Advisory board of the Armed Citizens Legal Defense Network. This organization is a must have resource for all lawfully armed citizens – concealed carry holder or not. In 2013 Mas will also be one of the co-instructors for several of their CLE (continuing legal education credit) courses, geared for attorneys who handle deadly force/firearms cases. You can get more information on the Armed Citizens Legal Defense Network here.

We’d highly recommend taking one of Massad Ayoob’s classes. He partners with a number of training firms around the country so you just might find a class offered in your neck of the woods. Get more information at

Does Hot Caliber Jewelry Make You Hawt? We Ask Founder Manos Phoundoulakis

Manos Phoundoulakis - Hot Caliber

Manos Phoundoulakis – Hot Caliber founder busting some clays at the Hot Caliber station at The Shooting Industry Masters

We’re talking with Manos Phoundoulakis, founder of Hot Caliber Jewelry and master inventor behind the flattened bullet jewelry concept. Well, actually, when you dig a little deeper into the story, most of the credit for the idea goes to his partner and bride Kelle. Isn’t that the way it always is?

While shooting with Team Hot Caliber at the 2012 Shooting Industry Masters event, we were able to pick Manos’ brain about being ‘hawt’ with Hot Caliber jewelry. As a side note, the Masters event served as the launch for the custom edition benefitting USA Shooting.

My Gun Culture: Right off the bat, I need to clarify an important question. Do you need to actually be ‘hawt’ to wear Hot Caliber flattened bullet jewelry? Or do you have to at least perceive yourself as ‘hawt’ to wear this stuff?

Manos Phoundoulakis: No, actually that’s what’s great about Hot Caliber. If you’re not hot, and you wear Hot Caliber, you will become hot. We guarantee it! Be careful of not wearing your Hot Caliber jewelry though, you can lose your newly found hotness.

Hot Caliber Derringer Pendant - USA Shooting Benefit Edition

Hot Caliber Derringer Pendant – USA Shooting Benefit Edition

MGC: I understand you put together a special benefit program for USA Shooting. Can you tell us about that?

Manos: Earlier this year at the NRA Annual Meeting, we decided to put together a benefit program around the Shooting Industry Masters event.  The FMG Publications (editors note: American Handgunner, Guns Magazine, and American Cop Magazine) folks came up with the idea to benefit USA Shooting and right off the bat it was clear to me this was a great idea. You see, I’m Greek. The Olympics started in Greece. They weren’t shooting back then, but they were throwing stuff, and that counts for something. We didn’t invent the gun, but we do take credit for shot put.

MGC: So without divulging too many trade secrets, how do you make Hot Caliber flattened bullet jewelry?

Manos: After more than 4,000 rounds of testing, we now know what it’s going to take to create a perfect flattened bullet. Normally, we shoot 100 rounds of a specific ammo type, depending on the type and size of piece we want to make, at a big heavy piece of steel. Over time, I’ve figured out what exact brand and load will produce perfect flattened bullets of a given size. Then I get to sift through the dirt and retrieve the flattened bullets. At this point, I pick the three best and run them by a small committee to help identify the best overall bullet impression.

MGC: So people have to be small to be on the committee?

Manos: No, but they do have to have really good eyesight. The committee is small in number, not in size! At this point, I take the flattened bullet and mold it in a rubber molding compound. From there we cast the initial model. If it’s our general Hot Caliber product, that model gets cast in silver or gold, then it gets put into the jewelry. We use a lost wax casting method. I won’t bore you with the details, but there are many important steps involved in creating a piece of silver or gold jewelry with this technique. I’ll go ahead and claim that the Greeks invented the lost wax technique also – even though that probably isn’t true. Sometimes we use an oxidation technique to help bring out the visual texture. For the Masters Edition, we have to take one more molding process to engrave one or both sides, depending on the piece.

MGC: Since you use actual bullets to come up with these designs, when did Mayor Bloomberg contact you about outlawing Hot Caliber Jewelry in New York City?

Manos: Well I don’t know him personally. And quite frankly, he’s not very attractive, but he would be much more attractive if he were to be wearing Hot Caliber jewelry. Then he might lighten up a bit.

Hot Caliber flattened bullet cufflinks

Hot Caliber offers a variety of flattened bullet jewelry for men and women – pendants, rings, cufflinks, keychains, and more.

MGC: Hot Caliber jewelry is already pretty elegant stuff, but do you have plans to enter the “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” market? Maybe something Paris Hilton would wear?

Manos: Just between us, we’re thinking about a “Haute Calibre” line. But that’s secret.

MGC: If other organizations or companies want to create special Hot Caliber editions to sell or fundraise is there any way they could do that?

Manos: We do offer special editions and licensed manufacturing for sale on other websites/catalogs. I would personally love to make an edition for any of the US Armed forces, or a Soldiers Angels Edition…anything that could help support the people that risk their lives for our freedoms. I’d make a Nancy Pelosi edition, but she would probably use the money to take my guns away.


Be sure to check out the Hot Caliber collection at Better yet, order a special edition piece to support USA Shooting!

Can the S&W 500 Be Carried In A Bra Holster? Our Interview With Bart and Lisa Looper

Bart and Lisa Looper of Looper Brand Holsters

Husband and wife dynamic duo – Bart and Lisa Looper

Don’t let the lame-stream media fool ya. If you’re willing to put in some hard work and get creative, you can do just fine. At this year’s NRA Annual Meeting in St. Louis, the American Dream was alive and well. We met dozens of entrepreneurs who simply refused to accept the status quo. New ideas. New products. And new passion. It was awe inspiring.

A shining example of the American can-do attitude is Looper Brand Holsters – now run by the dynamic, and quite insane, team of Bart and Lisa Looper. You may know them from their law enforcement heritage. You may know them from the new Flashbang concealed carry holster for women. We got to know them a whole lot better at the NRA Annual Meeting in St. Louis. Here’s the scoop…

My Gun Culture: I see from the Looper Brand website that your company was founded in 1938. Neither of you look nearly that old. What’s the secret? Human growth hormones? Organ replacement? Bionics? Do you want to comment on this?

Lisa Looper: I’m wise beyond my years… Just kidding! Actually we’re the 3rd generation. My husband Bart’s family started the business in 1938. Then later his dad took over, and then we took over about 7 years ago.

Bart Looper: Since then we’ve been running it and taking the company in new directions. We started out in western belts, watchbands, and ladies handbags. Through the years we went from that to doing a little work for the FBI in the 50’s. Then my father, who was in law enforcement reserve for 40 years took the company into law enforcement products. We ended up in mostly concealed carry and law enforcement products.

MGC: Looking at your website, and there’s two – and, it’s clear you make everything under the sun. How on earth do you guys decide where to invest your time and efforts?

Looper Brand Holsters Booth - NRA Meeting - Flashbang Booth

The Looper Brand Booth was packed at the NRA Annual Meeting

Bart: That’s actually really hard because I tend to be way more emotional and Lisa tends to be way more business-like. I want to hold on to the past and say “No, we have to make the wallets we’ve been making for 50 years.” Even though I know they are losing us money. Lisa and our production manager will slap me upside the head once in a while and say “we’re not making money on that so we can’t do it anymore.” It’s hard to look at the company from a business perspective and sometimes move on from our past. Now we have to really stop and consider, “How can we arm all of the good guys? Especially since we’re so focused on law enforcement and concealed carry products.”

MGC: So you’ve already completed the mission of arming all of the bad guys?

Bart: Yes! Yes.

Lisa: The market ran dry on bad guys.

Bart: We usually don’t have to worry about the bad guys. You know, they stick the gun in the front of their pants, it goes off, and the problem takes care of itself…

MGC: I couldn’t help but notice that with the broad array of products you have that you sell both sexy gun holsters that go in underwear AND you also sell handcuffs. To me, and maybe it’s just me, that’s kind of a scary combination. What kind of creepy phone calls do you get?

Lisa: You know, it’s been a while since we got one. I guess it’s been about 3 or 4 years. We did have a guy call us and ask if we could make harnesses for men that, ummm, were on the wild side…

Bart: And my aunt was still partly in the business and she took it on as a side project. She actually did it and they made some interesting products in army green, inmate jumpsuit orange, and some police black, and some different things with some really interesting tie downs and straps. But of course we’ve never actually done that under the Looper brand name.

MGC: We visited your booth at this years SHOT Show and saw a bunch of new products specifically for ladies in The Pin Up Collection – like The Marilyn, The Annie-O, The Sophia, and The Betty. You may know this already, but the world famous @SavannieOakley on Twitter works with us and so we’re thinking that maybe you’ll make a custom holster called the Savannie Oakley? Obviously it would have to be a concealed holster for a Smith & Wesson 500. Any ideas or plans on that?

Lisa: Maybe a sword style, down the leg rig?

Bart: I don’t know, I did see Lisa put a Smith & Wesson 500 in her bra in a Flashbang holster one time, but that was on a dare and there may have been some cocktails involved… Yeah.

MGC: Of all the new models in the Pin Up Collection – 5 including the Flashbang – which one is getting the most attention?

Lisa: The Flashbang of course is the leader because it’s been out for about a year now, but The Betty and The Marilyn are close on its heels. The Marilyn is made to go on the side more like a shoulder holster. It mounts on the bra. The Betty is an inside the waistband type holster.

MGC: So The Marilyn is the one you were telling be about that is accessible from the top. So if a woman was wearing a long dress or other clothing that would prohibit access to the Flashbang, then they might consider The Marilyn?

Lisa: Right. It’s accessible through the neck opening. The Betty is for more traditional waist carry.

Bart: We’ve had so much response from men about The Betty that we’re going to have to repackage it under a different name. Guys just aren’t willing to buy a holster called The Betty!

MGC: Oh! We got it! How about The Bert and Ernie!

Bart: Yeah! Done!

The Betty Holster from the Pin Up Collection from Looper Brand

The Betty Holster – Part of the new Pin Up Collection from Looper Brand Holsters

MGC: We’ll work out a royalty deal on that name we just gave you. Speaking of The Betty… Lisa you mentioned that for women especially, that straight drop (or straight cant) holsters are more useful. Can you help our readers understand this?

Lisa: Yes. It’s generally because we have a shorter torso and a more curvy situation of course. So when a woman tries to draw from a forward cant, it torques the shoulder and arm more. You really have to raise your elbow up high to draw from a forward cant. If you’re drawing from a straight cant you can keep the arm down at your side and pull the gun straight out and bring it forward in an easier manner.

MGC: Bart. Looper has a lot of women’s holsters in the new line. Have you ever thought about some discreet carry holsters for the guys like the Jock Jammer or something like that?

Bart: No, because Lisa says it won’t make us any money! You know, half of our company’s business is now the women’s line. Look at our booth here – there’s nothing that says “Looper” specifically – it’s all Flashbang branded. So I’m going to try some new things for men but I’m probably going to get shot down!

MGC: Lisa, keeping in mind that our site is PG rated, how many guns can you carry in your underwear?

Lisa: I think the most I’ve ever had on is 7!

MGC: Tell us about your relationship with Blade-Tech. We love those folks! Some great products have come out of that partnership – in fact I’m wearing one now – the Looper / Blade-Tech leather/kydex gun belt.

Bart: About 2 years ago, Ryan Preece, Rock Star from Blade-Tech – you can take that in jest if you want to – got a directive to add belts to the Blade-Tech line. They researched about seven different companies online and placed orders anonymously. When he got the belts, he liked ours the best and recognized our high level of customer service. Then he called us and told us Blade-Tech wanted to carry our product. I just about dropped the phone. Over the past two years, we’ve developed a mutual partnership. Now, we help them with leather and they help us with kydex products. We work together on the hybrid holster, the hybrid belt, and we have a bunch of new belts in the line. And a top secret new holster product…

MGC: So what’s next for Looper Brand?

Bart: We plan to continue to grow the women’s line of course. And we’re having a lot of success picking up new retail partners who want to sell made in the USA, family owned company products with a great reputation for quality and customer service.

MGC: I hear you guys have gone Hollywood. What’s the scoop?

Lisa: Well NCIS Los Angeles contacted us and said that one of their characters was going to be drawing from a bra holster in an upcoming episode. After doing some research, they came across the Flashbang and were impressed by it. They decided to showcase it on the show!

MGC: One last question. Do you two ever sleep?

Bart / Lisa: No!

Thanks to Bart and Lisa for being such good sports. We wish them MUCH continued success and a bit more sleep…

We Ask Sara Ahrens – Do Children Make Effective Blowgun Targets?

Sara Ahrens

Sara Ahrens

Today we have the distinct pleasure of interviewing a S&W 500 totin’, SWAT Team officiating, meth lab door busting, mother of two, Spanish speaking, Russian translating, Top Shot competing, Army veteran, knife throwing, and Women’s Outdoor News writing lady. If you haven’t guessed her identity by that job title, we’re talking to Top Shot Season 3 contestant, and all around swell lady, Sara Ahrens. Let’s get the scoop on Sara…

My Gun Culture: You’re an Army veteran right? Tell our readers how you got into the Army as a Russian and Spanish translator. And are we really headed for another two front war with Russia and Spain? The last Spano-Russian war was pretty rough as I recall. The market for hot and spicy pierogi’s completely tanked!

Sara Ahrens: I don’t know about the Spano-Russian war, but if it did occur, I would put my money on Russia. Historically speaking, that is one brutal culture! I was fluent in Spanish before I joined the Army, as I was an exchange student to Paraguay just prior to enlisting. When I got to Monterey, California in October 1992 just after graduating Basic Training, I was told I could test out of Spanish, get promoted to Sergeant and move on to my next duty station or select a second language. I chose Russian because it was a one year language program and I wasn’t smart enough to attend the 1.5 year Arabic program. Anyway, I really wasn’t interested in learning a language a culture where women have little value (I didn’t really think I could translate that into a successful post-military career due to my gender). So I passed up more money and more rank for a year in Monterey, California and I never regretted that decision. By the way, hot and spicy pierogi’s actually sound good!? Weird.

MGC: So you AND your husband are both Sergeants in the Rockford, IL police department. That must drive your kids absolutely nuts! Can they get away with anything?

Sara Ahrens checking out a Kriss Vector at a taping of 'Shooting Gallery'

Sara checking out a Kriss Vector at a taping of ‘Shooting Gallery’

Sara: We are both Sergeants, I was promoted first but he is in a position of authority as acting Senior Sergeant. He used to work Internal Affairs so answering the phone calls of unhappy people is something he is more equipped to handle. As far as our children, they are both pretty innocent still. They know they have to step up their game to get one over on us, or deprive us of sleep. I can say that the best class I ever took was called practical lie detection. I am pretty good at it. It works without fail and the only way my kids get away with lying, is if I choose not to address it.

MGC: A Practical Lie Detection Class? OK then. I can shoot the Triple Nickel drill in 4.8 seconds. True or false?

Sara: Ok I’m going to say false, but that’s just a guess. It doesn’t actually work with a statement and it doesn’t work in writing. I don’t want to give away my secret, which gives me an advantage over liars, but if I were interviewing you about an incident and you told me your version of events I can tell if you are lying. It’s fool proof if the person isn’t aware that I am using it. Does that make sense? There are certain things people say and do when they are lying to prevent detection. It comes in the form of how much or how little detail they give, body language and actual words they use. So I will test you and your truthfulness next time we are face to face. For it to work, you have to describe for me the time when you ‘claim’ to have shot the Triple Nickel drill in 4.8 seconds then I will know the truth.

MGC: Uh-oh… I better practice my story. I mean it’s true of course, but I would hate to give off false signals. Word on the street is that you have moved to a Smith and Wesson 500 for your personal carry gun. I don’t want to second guess your decision, but do you really want to rely on a mouse gun like that?

Sara: Yeah, I wanted to carry my Smith and Wesson 500 concealed, but I live in Illinois. I can carry concealed as a law enforcement officer, but my department policy forbids that caliber. I like that my whole pinky fits in the chamber, it is funny. Really, could you imagine a bad guy trying to hurt someone and they pull out that beast? Clean up on aisle four! It would be as effective as the Taser was for my officers (when we could still carry them), just the sight of that red dot generally gained instant compliance.

MGC: What type of concealed holster are you thinking for the S&W 500? If you’re still looking I need to introduce you to Lisa Looper, who has a whole new line of holsters made specifically for women. You might need to convince her to make a 500 compatible model though…

Sara: Obviously you have never met me in person or you wouldn’t even think about Lisa Looper and Sara Ahrens in the same thought! I doubt I could even effectively conceal my Ruger LCP in a Lisa Looper holster! I don’t have a ‘place’ where I could even come close to concealing the 500. If I did carry it concealed, I would have to strap it on (with the sling that is) and conceal it under a long and bulky coat. Then I would have to do 10,000 repetitions to even come close to being able to remove it in a time of need, under stress.

MGC: Do you hunt? Meaning wild game, not meth-heads…

Sara: I do hunt, but I have to say I am leaving Spring Turkey season a little disgruntled. I don’t want to sound paranoid, but I think the turkeys are laughing at me. How is it possible to see them whenever I don’t have a tag? My hunting days are limited because of my work schedule and home responsibilities so I guess with only having 4 days to hunt I shouldn’t be upset about leaving the season empty-handed. Still, there is something about Turkeys and their attitudes that makes me mad. They come into my backyard (where I can’t hunt) and gobble. I speak Russian and Spanish so I feel uniquely qualified to translate turkey. I am pretty certain they are saying, “You’re not so tough now, huh?” Still, I can’t complain because I had a pretty successful deer season this past fall. I got a 10 pointer during shotgun season and a 9 pointer my first season bow hunting.

MGC: Well don’t feel too bad. I ran across three the other day while mountain biking and they were completely un-intimidated. In fact they taunted me with French accented insults. Mainly because they knew I had no shotgun rack on my bike. I heard that you went out and purchased a variety of weapons to prepare for Top Shot. What was the most unusual thing you bought?

Effective blowgun targets in the Ahrens household

Effective blowgun targets in the Ahrens household

Sara: I didn’t really purchase anything unusual, but my training methods almost got me a visit from the Department of Children and Family Services. Obviously I practiced as much as I could with all the weapons they featured in Seasons 1 and 2 (not firearms necessarily). One of my favorites are the blow darts. I am pretty decent with them and in order to challenge myself, I would stand on my elevated deck and make my 10 year old son run from tree to tree in our back yard. I would then attempt to strike him with the stun darts. He loved it! He would giggle and run while I hit my mark, soon my Fox Red Lab, Buddy, got into it too. (I think I hear Animal Control at my door now!) It was all fun and games until my dog started chewing up the stun darts, now I just tag my little guy with them. (For anyone offended I just want to say I made him wear safety glasses.)

MGC: Children absolutely need to learn evasion tactics at a young age. So the way I see it, you should be up for mother of the year! So if you and Dustin Ellerman had a head to head competition with blow darts, who would win?

Sara: Dustin is one of those guys that is good at everything he touches. I would probably be better if I lived in a town of 12 people and my ADHD was better controlled. I would be remiss not to mention that he has God on his side. So my vote is on Dustin…on anything and everything! He is my brother from another mother and a truly nice person. Although the drawback of Top Shot was being exposed to Jake and his shenanigans, meeting Dustin made up for it!

Thanks to Sara Ahren for sharing some time with us! You can keep up with Sara at The WON – Women’s Outdoor News!

Should Turkey Decoys Do The Nasty? These and Other Questions with Barbara Baird of The WON

Barbara Baird - Publisher of The WON

Barbara Baird – Publisher of The WON

I love this job. Although it is, at times, dangerous. Like at the recent NRA Annual Meeting. Minding my own business at a Smith & Wesson / ATK media briefing, I was suddenly accosted by a band of half-crazed gun-outdoor-archer-hunter-shooter-fisher women. And one of the ringleaders was Barbara Baird, publisher of The WON. So I had to arrange an interview. Here it is…

My Gun Culture: Tell us a little about The WON? I thought Neo was the one. Did you also take The Red Pill?

Barbara Baird: I started to answer this while sitting under a tree in full camo, on my iPhone, waiting for a gobbler somewhere in the universe to take notice of my two decoys, a hen and a jake — that were set up in a rather obscene style. As far as Neo … he’s the other one. And, yes, I do take the red pill almost every morning … but I have to present my ID at the pharmacy to get it. Called Sudafed. Otherwise, I’d be a hacking, streaming mess in the grass during turkey season.

MGC: Even YOU have to show ID to buy allergy medicine? What is this world coming to when a woman who runs her own NEWS NETWORK isn’t trusted to buy Sudafed? So what are you hoping to accomplish with Womens Outdoor News?

Barbara: We (because The WON is a team) want to educate, inspire and entertain. We want to be the “go-to” source for news about women in the outdoors, and also, the place that you can trust, the network, that will help you find the right gear and a good, safe event to attend, or a wonderful instructor to search out and learn from. And we also love men and we like it when men come to the site to learn what to buy for the women in their lives! I’ve had men tell me that they actually learn what women want at our site!

MGC: Ummm, Mothers Day is right around the corner you know. Got any ideas for the shooting lady? After all, you ARE one, so I expect some really good advice here…

Barbara: Just remember, “shooting ladies” who also are mothers (and I mean that in a nice way) don’t want to cook on Mother’s Day. And for gifts … I’d visit The WON and check out our many advertisers — from boutique items such as bullet or cartridge jewelry, to swanky range bags to way cool hoodies and apparel to camo for the serious hunter to bringing out the big guns, from Smith & Wesson or Colt.

MGC: If I understand correctly, you used to be part of the mainstream media. Doesn’t that mean you can’t be trusted? How do we know that The WON is not some Homeland Security front organization created solely to infiltrate the outdoors industry? After meeting you at the NRA Annual Meeting, I’m suspicious already.

Barbara: Aw, I’m still part of that media. I write a column for Turkey Country and two columns in THE travel magazine of Missouri — Show Me Missouri! I still think print and layout whenever I post at The WON. Can’t help it, from my wax and paste days as a weekly newspaper editor in a small town called St. James. As far as Homeland Security infiltrating the outdoors, that’s an interesting thought. I believe that Homeland Security could call on our contributors at The WON to kick some major behind, if needed, in the war on terror.

Barbara Baird shooting a cannon

Umm, Barb? Isn’t this too much gun for wild turkey?

MGC: Tell me about it. We interviewed Mia Anstine recently and quickly figured out you don’t want to mess with her. Although she didn’t confess to setting up turkey decoys in, umm, compromising positions. But enough about that. I know you’re an avid huntress, so what’s your favorite wild game meal?

Barbara: Whatever is in season. I even like moose. We practically live off venison, because I’m not very good at fishing. Otherwise, we’d have a lot of trout and bluegill, too.

MGC: Quick! Revolver or Semi-auto?

Barbara: Semi-auto … but I just ordered my first revolver, a Smith & Wesson Model 642. Guns are like shoes and especially for concealed carry. There are so many options and not every gun fits every occasion.

MGC: We can’t help but be impressed by the fact that The WON is already a celebrity hangout. Just look at the Team WON link on your site and you see brushes with fame all over! Just between us, and the rest of the internet, who’s joining Team WON next?

Barbara: You’re the seventh to know, Tom. We refer to them as “the twins.” Because they are. Tracy and Lanny Barnes, Olympic biathletes and if blogging had an Olympics, they’d whoop up on everyone … anyway, they are coming onboard, sponsored by ATI — who makes their gunstocks — and they are going to talk to us about nutrition, shooting, training and how to wear camo in Europe. They also will take us with them on their many and varied trips around the world. We can be armchair biathletes!

MGC: I hope you don’t take this the wrong way, but how do people take advantage of The WON? Hang on, let me change that! How can people work with The WON to help advance the cause?

Barbara Baird The WON blowing up a rock

Here’s Barb. Drilling a big hole. In a big rock. To blow it up. I suspect Dr. Bomb is somehow involved.

Barbara: Thank you, Tom. Please link to us. We like links. And let us know what you want to read. We can send our WON Guns and Team WON out to help with a shooting event, fishing, adventure (think rock climbing), the biathlon, or hunting trip. In fact, last year, a bunch of WON Guns showed up at a carp bowfishing tournament in Southern Illinois. I think the carp heard about us, and vamoosed. There were hardly any carp to be found. We had a great time regardless.

MGC: So Barbara, this has been fun goofing around a bit, but all kidding aside, what else should our readers know about you?

Barbara: I’d like you to know that I’ve been married for 33+ years to a wonderful man that is known as Dr. Bomb in the industry. We have four grown children, two daughters-in-law, a son-in-law (they ALL shoot and hunt) and three granddaughters under the age of 2. We are starting our own Little Women in the Outdoors program. My family is extremely supportive of The WON, and contributes suggestions and participate in antics that often wind up as blogposts, bless their hearts. I am quite serious about my work in the industry, though. I am the Realtree News blogger and feature writer — launching a series of profiles next month at the site, a contributing editor at SHOT Biz and a feature writer and columnist at Turkey Country. I wrote the controversial cover story a few years ago that shocked a lot of people, regarding Katrina and the city of New Orleans’ coverup of gun confiscation there afterwards, and a follow-up story a year later for America’s 1st Freedom. I’m also a new columnist with Shooting Sports USA.

Thanks to Barbara Baird, known in some circles as Babbs In The Woods for giving us the rundown on The WON. Check them out online!

Springfield Armory’s Rob Leatham Discusses Wayne Gretzky, Jackie Gleason, and Getting Whooped By His Sister

We had the opportunity to catch up with Springfield Armory Team Captain Rob Leatham at the recent NRA Annual Meeting. In between winning everything that there is to be won in the action shooting sports, Rob paused to share some war stories with us…

My Gun Culture: We’re here at the NRA Annual Meeting with TGO! TGO stands for “The Great One”, Mr. Rob Leatham, world class shooter and Captain of Team Springfield Armory.

Rob Leatham: TGO is Mr. Wayne Gretzky! And before that, who was the first TGO?

MGC:  Oh, I should know this…

Rob: Jackie Gleason!

MGC: At least you’ve got good taste in comedy! So Rob, you’ve been shooting forever. You grew up in Arizona, right? In the desert? Tell our readers a little more about how you got started.

Rob: Well I don’t remember not shooting! As a kid we lived in Mesa, Arizona and just 15 minutes out of town in any direction we could shoot – as long as we weren’t in a farmers field! There’s a lot of alfalfa growing out there you know. The shooting range where I now shoot was there when I was a kid, but I never had to go that far to shoot.

MGC: We’ve dug in to your past and we found something called the 5 yard game. Do you want to tell us about that? Or is it still a sore subject?

Rob: You know I keep hearing rumors about how my sister used to beat me at this game, but I have no recollection Senator! When I was about 12 or 13, my grandfather made us 12 inch diameter steel plates on posts. We would stick them in the ground and shoot at them. So my dad invented a game where everybody would shoot – my whole family shot and it was all pistols for this – and you shoot at the plates. If you hit them, you get to move back 5 yards. So everybody would keep moving back until you didn’t hit the target, then you were out. And it’s  funny I still use that as a training drill in my classes when we have enough distance. But now I can go a couple hundred yards and still hit the target. But again, my mom and dad like to tell stories about that but I have no recollection of being beat on a regular basis…

MGC: Don’t worry, we’re going to be validating some of those stories to “help you” remember. Yesterday we were here in the booth and saw the new XD-S .45 ACP with a 3.3” barrel. Rumor is that you are going to be shooting that as your primary competition gun next season. That seems a little challenging to me – you know, shooting a compact gun like that for competition. Do you care to comment?

Rob: (Laughs) Yeah that’s a challenge I don’t think I’m ready to come up against. Yeah, the 5.25’s I’ll shoot in competition, but the XD-S is the polar opposite of what a competition gun is designed for. The XDS is designed to be the thinnest, smallest, flattest concealed carry gun and the XDM 5.25 is designed to be the biggest – it barely fits in the standard box!

MGC: Do people actually call you “TGO” to your face and live to talk about it?

Rob: No, I don’t really like that. It’s a long story how that came about. A friend of mine, Brian Enos, we got into shooting at the same time. Sometime after he quit shooting he just started calling me The Great One, then it just became TGO. Then a co-worker named Vickie started in on it. So she and Brian are completely responsible! I don’t really fight it anymore… What can you do?

MGC: No worries, this conversation is just between you and me. And the internet.

Rob: So everybody knows that cell phones, the internet and all that stuff – it’s never gonna catch on.

MGC: I think that your distinction of being the only one to ever win the Triple Crown is still holding right? That’s kind of weird because I always thought the Triple Crown was for horses. Can you explain?

Rob: In the early days, back in the 80’s, there weren’t different categories shot at the matches. Everybody shot the same category and the three major tournaments for action shooting were The Steel Challenge, which was the super speed shoot, The Bianchi Cup, which was the super accuracy shoot, and the IPSC Nationals, which was supposed to be a combination of everything. In 1985 I won all three of those. And so that’s where the whole Triple Crown thing came about. Now, I’m not sure that other people have not won them all in other categories since then. That’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

MGC: So you’re implicitly saying that no animals were harmed in process of winning the Triple Crown?

Rob: Basically, yeah. Not in that endeavor anyway.

MGC: Tell our readers what it’s like to be Captain of the Springfield Armory Shooting Team. Is there a lot of butt kicking, screaming, yelling, pushups, and so on?

Rob: No, it’s actually easier than that because the Springfield Armory Shooting Team is just me! Over the years I’ve managed to take care of the competition by getting rid of all of them! So now I’m not only the senior member and the captain, but I’m also the newest member of the Springfield team!

MGC: We’re hearing rumors that The Justice League of America is going to be entering The Bianchi Cup next season…

Rob: You’re correct, WE are! We ARE joining the competition next year.

MGC: One more question. We’re going to be doing feature stories on a couple of Springfield Armory products. We’re going to feature the XDM in .45 ACP, but the other thing we’re going to do is a feature on a Springfield Armory 1911 for every day carry. In the Springfield line, what would you steer the average Joe or Jane towards in a 1911 format gun?

Rob: Well I like the EMP style carry guns, but they come in 9mm and .40 S&W. If I were going to get a small 1911, I would probably choose an EMP. That model is the best gun for that use. Now, if you’re a dyed in the wool .45 ACP shooter, I gotta be honest with you, for carry I would get an XDS. I doubt anybody is a bigger 1911 nut than I am, but there is no doubt that I would carry an XDS. It’s the best gun in that size, weight, length, caliber combination.

MGC: Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?

Rob: Take a kid shooting! My big drive right now is getting the children shooting. It’s our responsibility to take a kid shooting. The average kid can’t go on their own – they need someone to take them. Adults may not be able to get into my class, but if you’re 14 years old, I’ll take you shooting!

We’d like to thank Rob and the Springfield Armory folks for helping us to arrange this interview. Rob talked at length about the new XD-S and it seems to be a pretty impressive gun. We can’t wait to get our hands on one. These will be shipping soon – keep an eye out on for the latest news.

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