American Marksman doesn’t want any actual marksmen to compete

Have you heard of American Marksman? It’s a new shooting competition where amateur shooters have a chance to win $50,000 in an interesting competition. You can read the official rules here; the idea is local shooters can qualify at their home range, then if they shoot well enough they can move up to the national competition, which will be televised and could win $50,000. Seems pretty cool, right? Except for this one little part about eligibility:

If you have ever placed in the top 10%, in any category, at any of the events listed below, you are not eligible to participate in American Marksman.

Amateur Trapshooting Association – AIM Grand Championships
CMP – CMP National Trophy Rifle and Pistol Matches
GSSF – Any GSSF event
ICORE – ICORE National Championship
IDPA – Indoor National Championship, US National Championship
International Handgun Metallic Silhouette Association – IHMSA World Championship
IPSC National Championship – Any
Military – Any Branch that picks its member based on marksmanship ability (ex – Navy Seal Sniper)
National Bench rest Shooters Association – Long Range Nationals, SR Score Nationals, LR Score Nationals, Group Nationals
National Skeet Shooting Association – World Skeet Championships
National Sporting Clays Association – National Sporting Clays Championship
NRA – National Matches at Camp Perry, National Small-bore Championship, Collegiate Rifle National Championship,
Collegiate Pistol National Championship, Precision Pistol Competition (National Police Shooting Championships), Action
Shooting National Championship
NSSF Rim fire Challenge – World Championship
Outlaw 3 Gun – Any Outlaw 3 Gun match
Precision Rifle Series – PRS Championship Match
SASS – National Championships Winter Range, Mounted Shooting National Championships
Steel Challenge Shooting Association – SCSA World Championship
US Clay Target Association – USA Shooting National Championship
USPSA National Championships – Multi-Gun Nationals, Single Stack Nationals, Revolver Nationals, Production Nationals, Carry
Optic Nationals, Limited Nationals, Open/Limited 10 Nationals

There’s another piece of their eligibility requirements as well that makes me shake my head:

This tour is built on the idea that amateur shooters should have the chance to compete, improve and win. The guidelines below describe how American Marksman classifies an amateur shooter:
Does not have any level of sponsorship (under a shooting contract of any kind, receive product, cash or match entries from a third party)
Has never placed in the top 10% of national level or higher competitive shooting event in any division or category.
Has never been ranked in the top 10% in any national competitive shooting organizations classification system.
Is not a member of a shooting team that is selected based on shooting skill.

So, it’s pretty obvious that they don’t want any professional or sponsored shooters playing their game, which I guess is fine. I mean, if I was going to have a competition to crown someone “the American Marksman” I’d probably want the best shooters in the country to try out for it, but whatever, it’s not my 50 grand.

So you’re probably think “well, I’m not a sponsored shooter, but I’m a USPSA master, so I could probably dust this competition and make some sick cash!” Yeah, not so fast, bucko. My friend Thomas from Precision Response had that exact thought, so he sent American Marksman an email. Here’s the response he received:

Hi Thomas,

Based on the sponsorship criteria provided me, you are correct. You would still be eligible.

As for the second part of your question, you are also correct. Anyone who is a GM or M in USPSA, or an M or EX in IDPA is NOT eligible for this competition. (emphasis added)

Please let me know if you have any other questions!

Best of luck!

You read that right. No IDPA Masters or Experts, and no USPSA GMs or Masters. That…well let’s be honest, that tells me everything I need to know about this competition, and what it says is they’re not interested in getting good shooters. It also tells me that they don’t know anything about the skill disparity between an IDPA Expert and a USPSA Master. I mean take me for example, at my best in USPSA when I was shooting regularly and training regularly I was a high A-class shooter, and I’m an IDPA Master.

Now, here’s the thing. You know what I want to see? I know there are plenty of talented A-class USPSA shooters that aren’t classified in IDPA, and if that’s the case I want all you people to register for this competition and wreck shop. This is actually your chance to make some money, so I want you to get out there and kick ass. Because that’s the only thing that will lend any sort of legitimacy to this farce of a competition. Because by intentionally excluding the most talented shooters in the nation, they’ve created a competition where the winner gets the best participation trophy ever. I know for a fact I won’t watch it when it gets to TV, because I don’t want to see a bunch nobodies compete for a bunch of money, I want to see the best shooters in the world duke it out. Since American Marksman isn’t interested in showing us that, I want all you A-class sonsabitches to get out and there and register for this. Wreck their curve!


  1. Caleb,
    Not to sounds like an ass but if you read the “About” section, the second sentence says “American Marksman is your chance to compete against amateur shooters.” which for me, an amateur shooter, is great . Yes, I know I could practice, practice, practice, and get way better, but I don’t have the time nor the money to do that. So being able to compete with others of my skill level without getting my clocked cleaned, I find very interesting.

    Yes, the name and title America Marksman makes it seem that they want the best of the best, but if you look at the intent of the competition, to get more amateur shooters competing, I think it might have a shot.

    1. I get that, but I don’t like excluding some of the best amateur shooters out there. There are plenty of GM and M class shooters out there who aren’t sponsored in any way and have never finished in the top 10% at a Nationals. Why shouldn’t they get a shot at 50,000?

      1. Totally see your point Caleb about the GM and M class shooters and that didn’t click until you replied.

        btw – I enjoy reading those posts from you and the other contributors.

  2. Chris Muncy wrote: “Yes, I know I could practice, practice, practice, and get way better, but I don’t have the time nor the money to do that. ”

    So…because of that, you want to make sure that any other amateur who actually does practice to get better isn’t allowed? Literally, that is what Caleb is saying–you want to get a participation trophy for playing a game in which the people who run the game are making sure that amateurs like you—people who aren’t pros, aren’t sponsored—but who happen to love shooting and actually practice, aren’t allowed to participate.

    “So being able to compete with others of my skill level without getting my clocked cleaned, I find very interesting.”

    In other words, you want to be in a competition where you won’t have your feelings hurt and you won’t get a realistic portrayal of your actual skill level compared to other people in your situation?

    “American Marksman is your chance to compete against amateur shooters.” which for me, an amateur shooter, is great .”

    I’m an amateur shooter. But because I’ve practiced, it isn’t great. If I hadn’t practiced, I could be in the running to be the American Marksman. But because I love shooting so I actually practice, I can’t.

    For me, an amateur, this isn’t great. And their portrayal of this as “THE American Marksman!” in their marketing is nonsense if they deliberately cut off a large section of people who shoot well.

    1. I think you’re taking that statement wrong. He’s not saying he doesn’t want to get better, but it’d be like putting a guy that plays intramural football against an NFL player; you just get trashed. It’s nice to have somewhere you can compete with people around (or just a bit above) your skill bracket.

  3. Totally off-topic, but it’s really good to have you back, Caleb. There isn’t enough content like yours out there.

  4. It sounds like this is geared towards people who have never competed in any shooting sport, ever. I don’t really see why that’s a bad thing. Give someone who’s never done it before a chance to compete against others who haven’t. If you’ve competed in USPSA or IDPA, keep doing so. No need to get in a huff because the people who’ve never tried a competition before get something geared towards them.

    1. Honestly agreed. I forget where, but I drew up a chart based on shooters with known classification scores that put an Expert IDPA shooter on about the same skill level as a mid-to-high C class shooter.

      The problem with the IDPA ranking system is at the top you have Master class shooters who are anywhere from B-class good all the way up to legit GM good; while IDPA tried to address that with the DM ranking, that really only filtered out the top 1% of shooters.

  5. Caleb, I get your beefs with this competition and your passion for the shooting sports, but this is being produced by Michael Bane and his group. All the things you say that those putting this on don’t know anything about, are you saying this about Michael Bane? He’s been a IPSC shooter since before you were born and was one of the few involved in founding IDPA. Sometimes you just spout off seemingly without thought. You know who Michael is and what he means to the shooting sports. Like I said you may have beefs and are totally ok to criticize this competition, but I think you are missing the forrest for the trees. This is clearly a comp meant for shooters who aren’t yet deep into either USPSA/IPSC or IDPA. This is about getting new shooters involved in comp shooting sports in a very new shooter friendly way. At their local gun range, where they are most comfortable shooting. USPSA and IDPA are great but they are very intimidating for the new shooter. IDPA has done a lot to be friendlier to new shooters but USPSA has a long way to go. They are not very friendly to new shooters. You know this is true about USPSA. Either way, I love Gun Nuts Media and what you and the crew do. Keep up the good work.

    1. I had no idea Michael was involved in this project, to be honest. Also, I never said that they don’t know anything about the shooting sports, what I said in my particular acerbic style is I think it’s silly to exclude legitimate amateur competitors from the sport simply because they might be too good. There are plenty of GM and M-class shooters out there that aren’t sponsored and haven’t finished in the top 10% at Nationals, why should they not get a chance to go for 50g?

      1. What you said was that those putting on the competition dont know anything about the skill disparity between IDPA expert and USPSA master. I think Michael, Marshall and all of his professional associates who cover these shooting sports for a living, do in fact know this difference. Again, I think you are missing what they are trying to accomlish and who in fact the target audience is, i.e., new shooters who shoot at indoor ranges for the most part and are not already deep in the shooting sports. The format for the local quals is basically the Ruger/NSSF Rimfire Challenge format with paper targets instead of steel. This is clearly so it can be done at indoor shooting ranges all over the country. It is .22lr pistol and rifle, starting from low ready. No fast draw skills, no run n gun, just basic marksmanship fundamentals. That’s all I’m saying. BTW, I love your style.

  6. I think y’all are confusing ‘reality TV’ with actual reality. It’s a show to provide, you know, entertainment. The dream they are selling is classic zero-to-hero and the audience wants to believe that they too are just as capable as the contestants. It’s not about who’s best, it’s about getting viewers; if they stimulate some folks to get out and join the shooting sports while they are at it then it’s a win for all of us. But then, I think you knew that.

  7. You’d be right Caleb,if the point was to showcase shooting skill on TV.

    Were that so, the show would be invite-only with vetted pro shooters participating. Joe XDm wouldnt even get a shot at joining.

    But this isn’t about skill. The folks underwriting this own Guns and Ammo as well as other established gun porn channels.These guys know full and well the median shooter in America fires at 7yds with their 1911/XD/Glock and thinks they’re hot shit for keeping their hits on paper. All they’re doing with this event is turning Duning-Krueger into marketable entertainment.

    Heres a more accurate title: “American Derp”.

  8. Caleb, I appreciate your concerns but seems to me this is a good way to bring positive attention to shooting sports and gun owners. The pros and top amateurs already have plenty of competitions to show their stuff. Like others have said this competion lets schlubs like me dream. ?

  9. Hi kids! Caleb, you know I respect your opinion and your knowledge — hell, you wrote for Marshal and I on DRTV back in the Back When — but I don’t think you see the vision we have here. You know my resume…I’ve been involved in the start-up of USPSA, IDPA and NSSF RIMFIRE CHALLENGE…I’ve shot pretty much every shooting sport, including obscure things like Summer Biathon and odd shotgun sports. My goal here, the goal of everyone at OUTDOOR CHANNEL and Kroenke Sports Entertainment, is to bring a huge number of new people into the shooting sports. I have been involved in American Marksman since Meeting 1, and I have been adamant that it would be a shooting completion…not a slingshot, throwing tomahawks or whatever crap TOP SHOT devolved into. Accordingly, I insisted on bring in Mark Passamaneck as the technical director…Mark and I worked together to create one of the first IDPA clubs in the beginning.

    Mark is a top 3-Gun competitor, trainer and match director. He has shot USPSA, IDPA, RIMFIRE CHALLENGE, is the founder of Carbon Arms and a lifelong hunter. He has also served for 2 years as the match director of the NSSF RIMFIRE CHALLENGE World Championships. Frankly, he is one of the finest match directors/match designers in the world today.

    While I appreciate the work it takes to succeed at a specific shooting discipline, shooters made the choice to shoot those disciples. My goal — my job, if you will — is to “grow the pie,” change the baseline for the shooting sports. My job is not to reward people who worked hard to succeed in sports in which there is no money.

    After years of ratings, I am in the unique position of having a “data base” of what people are interested in watching. I can tell you categorically they are NOT interested in “professional” shooters. Not even a little tiny bit. In fact, with a few notable exceptions (ahem…the Miculek family), if I put a professional shooter on the screen, I can hear remotes clicking across the country.

    The reason there is no money in “professional” shooting is there are not enough people in the sport to support a professional cadre in any true sense of the word. If you got into the shooting sports for any reasons other than fun, the camaraderie and the personal challenge, with the added bonus of learning a skill that could contribute to saving your life, you are in the wrong sport. IF you want more money in shooting, get more people in shooting…which is, parenthetically, what I’ve been trying to do for decades.

    I sat down with Mike Foley, the new Prez of USPSA, this morning to see what we can do to move that sport forward. I am in regular contact with Joyce Wilson at IDPA and NSSF on the Rimfire. This season on SHOOTING GALLERY we’re featuring IDPA, 3-Gun and part of the Precision Rifle Series.

    My producing partners Tim Cremin (GUN STORIES WITH JOE MANTEGNA; THE BEST DEFENSE) and John Carter ( SHOOTING GALLERY and SHOOTOUT LANE) and I will be in charge of the televised finale for AMERICAN MARKMAN…we have more experience than anyone else in the world on producing shooting sports programming. Period. It will be spectacular.

    And it will be amatuer.

    Your friend,

    Michael B

    1. AMEN Mr. Bane! I did my best to defend you and your new competition/show, but of course you do it better. I love Gun Nuts Media, as Caleb, Shelley and their crew do a great job. It is an awesome blog. But sometimes, he shoots from the hip, so to speak, and misses the mark, sometimes (quite rarely actually). In this case he missed the mark BIG TIME. I have already registered for AM in the Mil/LEO division. I look forward to the competition. Good luck with AM and also with your upcoming surgery and recovery/rehab.

      All the best,

      1. Yeah, there was a reason that after I found out Michael was involved I sent him an email and asked him to comment. I’m glad he did and I’ll be re-thinking my opinion on AM.

    2. Hey Michael, glad you could weigh in on this. I really appreciate you clearing this up for me; and I’m glad to see that the people involved in this project have legit shooting sports backgrounds. While I still think it would be great to allow M and GM class shooters to compete, I totally see where you’re coming from. I’m looking forward now to seeing where American Marksman goes and I hope that you guys are able to accomplish what you’re, to excuse the phrase, aiming for.

      Thanks again!


      1. Caleb,

        Great save! I don’t think I could pedal forward half that well, even on my best day which is why I try not to mix bourbon with the keyboard. Here’s an idea: Round up the necessary sponsors and set up your own match with the very best shooters. No, wait, that’s already been done; IDPA/USPSA Nationals. Oh well, maybe a $100,000 match featuring individuals who have never touched a gun in their lives, secretly nominated by their friends and family. Now that would be a viewer-rich spectacle and far more entertaining than a contest of shooters that are somewhere between beginner and mediocre or the top 15% in the world.

  10. What Michael said…
    Expanding the population of safe and knowledgeable competitive shooters I cannot see as a bad thing; one way to do that is to incentivize folks to get out and shoot-like with $50K at the end of the journey…
    GVT: another title might be: “American Citizen”

    1. Michael Bane’s clarification goes a long way to explain things. I stand corrected.

      People(in the average sense, whether they’re shooters or not) won’t necessarily relate to watching Rob Leatham burning up the lanes. They can relate to the ordinary single mom shooting a .22lr.

  11. The one that really is amazing is:

    GSSF – Any GSSF event

    I finished near the top years ago in a local GSSF match as a B class USPSA shooter. So if you want to shoot this and have any amount of skill you need to not shoot GSSF. Any explanation for why GSSF is worded this way when others are worded as national championships?

  12. Lot of Glock hate.

    GSSF matches are comprised of mostly new (poor) shooters. It is easy to make top 10%, even if you are not that good. Do that just once, at any match, in any category, ever in your life, and you are out.

    But you could be top 10% in IDPA, Steel Challenge, etc., in your entire state, winning the state championship every year, and you are GTG if you did not make 10% in the national competition.

  13. Finishing near the top at GSSF can be pretty easy if you are competing in the civilian category, as there are no masters in that category.

  14. I actually just signed up for this competition. This will be my first competition ever. I also have never owned a 22 before. So I picked up a ruger mkIII and a 10/22 after finding out on the A.M. facebook site, that a 22 conversion kit in an ar is against the rules (though I didn’t see that in the official rules from the AM Web site). I never grew up around guns (thanks to california gun laws) and actually pulled my first trigger in basic training in 2003. The Army never really taught me about accuracy…. it was more like, “qualify and get off my damn range!” Everything else was just learning how to shoot as a group to destroy a target.

    I didn’t learn about pistol shooting until I went through a police accademy and I learned that I can hold my own with a side arm. I did well against my piers (most of them being civilians)

    Any how, this competition is right up my alley, I’ve always wanted to see what I got, but never did because the price of admission was to steep. Hell, I bought my first ar last year because I thought I was gona try some 3 gun… I even bought the DPMS 3 gun model only to find out that based on others competitors opinions, I bought the Toyota prius of guns.

    I’d like to thank the people of AM for this opportunity… my wife is also hoping that if I qualify, I won’t have to buy any more guns for the regional level. I’m kinda hoping I do ?.

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