Crowning A World Champion of Shooting?

Sep 15, 2014
Editor's Note: This seemed to be the weekend of worldwide shooting competition. The ISSF World Championships continued in Spain (and the US had a BIG day- see the news section), the International Defensive Pistol Association (IDPA) held it's 2014 U.S. Championships at the US Shooting Academy in Tulsa, Oklahoma and the inaugural World Shooting Championship from Glengary, West Virginia set out to identify the "world's best shooter" - and award that shooter $50,000. The IDPA match hadn't posted final results at our deadline, so we'll have those full results in subsequent editions of the wires this week. The inaugural Trijicon World Shooting Championship did wrap up on Saturday - and award $50,000 to the winner. Our editor/publisher Jim Shepherd brought home the story (but not the check).

Looking over the expanses of West Virginia open country that makeup the Peacemaker National Training Center outside Glengary, West Virginia, it's difficult to accurately judge distance, especially with low clouds and a light mist blowing. Ordinarily, that brings an appreciative look to any photographer's eye.

But if those aging eyes are trying to determine the distance between a blowing flag and a target something between 100 and 200 yards behind it, it's not so inspiring.>
The U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit's Daniel Horner (ABOVE) can now add the title "World's Best Shooter" to his growing list of championship titles. The duo of Lena and father Jerry Miculek (below) eyeing a stage before they began their competition. Lena took the Ladies title; Jerry finished third overall.>
This photographer/shooter wasn't the only person wandering across the 12 stages of the inaugural Trijicon World Shooting Championship anticipating problems, because this competition was filled with shooters who have held (or currently hold) virtually any imaginable world shooting title. Bianchi Cups, Camp Perry titles, F1, Olympic trap, cowboy action, it seemed every event was represented by champions out to bring home the world's best shooter title -and the $50,000 winner's check.

This competition was designed to bring all those different disciplines- and champions- together in a single competition with the goal of crowning an "undisputed world champion" of shooting.

And the final standings indicate those with the most experience with rifles, pistols and shotguns had the upper hand. And a disproportionately high number of top finishers are currently 3-gun competitors.

But the best shooter in the world as identified by this competition is ....Daniel Horner of the Army Marksmanship Unit.

Horner took outright stage wins in the Double Womble Trap (100%) and NRA Action Rifle (again, 100%) and used them to overcome his to worst scores, a twenty-eighth place finish in F-class rifle and a thirteenth place in .22 rifle. Those were the only two of the twelve events where Horner didn't either win - or finish inside the top ten.

For his achievement, Horner wins the $50,000 prize- and the dubious honor of now knowing that every competition shooter in the world has him solidly in their sights now, not just the 3-gun shooters he regularly tests -and bests.

Bruce Piatt, multi-Bianchi Cup title holder and working police officer, finished second in the overall competition, followed by the man who seems to be ready to compete with anyone with virtually anything that goes bang at any time: Jerry Miculek.>
Brian Nelson looks -and shoots- like a wily veteran, but he's this year's Junior champ and finished in fourth place overall.
Miculek's third-place finish would seem to solidify his position as the man who pays no attention to time, but junior Brian Nelson's fourth place finish would indicate that while he's not going to be competing much longer as a junior, he won't be leaving the competitive shooting world.

The remainder of the top ten were Greg Jordan (5th) Patrick Kelley (6th), Mark Hanish (7th) , Jake Denno (8th) , Gabe Dietrich (9th) and Ryan Muller (10). Three gunner Tony Holmes finished eleventh, with Dave Sevigny in twelfth.

The High Female title in the World Shoot went to Lena Miculek who finished in twenty-eighth place.

If you're like me, you'd wondered how anyone could level a playing field so that champion shooters in vastly dissimilar disciplines could compete evenly. That was the challenge facing the organizer, match director and sponsors.

And designing a match that could do that by itself wouldn't be enough. It would take a prize large enough to attract as many of the world's current and former title-holders as possible to a course of fire difficult enough to challenge their core competencies and identify their shooting weaknesses.

Trijicon stepped up to the prize challenge with a $50,000 cash prize for first place- and more than $100,000 in cash overall. Prize tables added more than a quarter million additional dollars.

Leveling the playing field meant requiring everyone to compete with stage guns and ammo. No hand tuned actions, customized sights or hand loaded ammo specifically designed to minimize personal error. Essentially the World Shooting Championship was going to identify the world's best "stock" shooter.

Another challenge was eliminating "gaming" as much as possible. No match is ever perfect with all the competitors, but the rules in this one helped everyone realize-quickly- this match was going to come down to pure shooting abilities.

That also meant clarifying the matter of reshoots. When did a competitor get to reshoot a string of fire or a stage? That's a question that's resulted in heated debates at almost any competition-at virtually all levels.

The short answer to this long bone of contention was a "mulligan card". If you golf, the "mully" is a familiar concept: hit a bad shot, use a "mulligan" and hit again- no penalty. It's a fundraising staple at charity golf events. Big-spenders (and gamers) always buy the limit of mulligans.

The World Championship issued each shooter a mulligan card- entitling you to reshoot all- or a portion- of a single stage (depending on the stage).

But the card came with a major catch: it was only playable a single time-and on one stage. And it had to be played before your squad finished the stage - or the next squad arrived.>
3-Gun Shooter Mark Hanish on the 3 gun stage. His initial run was stopped by officials after spatter from a steel target broke a clay- clearly not his fault- or a need to use his mulligan card.
No more excuses, alibis or mulligans: no kidding.

Sure, there were some exceptions (with stage guns/ammo and moving targets there's always the chance that something would break, jam or stop moving), but the single chance at redemption negated "gaming" the equipment. After all, taking a rerun simply to improve a time on an event that was your strength eliminated any possibility of rerunning a stage where you might have problems.

You can see the official finish for the first Trijicon World Championships at:

You might also want to mark October 14-17, 2015 on your calendar for the second World Championship of Shooting. I already have, because I'm thinking defending the title might be a bit more difficult than simply winning it.

--Jim Shepherd