I was wrong about American Marksman

Last week I wrote a post blasting the new shooting competition American Marksmen for their policy that disqualifies many talented amateur shooters from competing. What I didn’t know at the time was who the creative team behind American Marksman was. As it turns out, the driving force behind American Marksman is my friend and mentor, Michael Bane. I have a tremendous amount of respect for Michael, so I emailed him and invited him to comment on the post. Here’s what he had to say:

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

I took the time to read that through and digest it, and I have to say that it changed my opinion on American Marksman. Yes, I still think that Master class and GM shooters should be allowed to compete, but now I understand what they’re trying to do. I think that the ultimate goal of creating an accessible and interesting shooting competition that puts the lens on true amateurs has value. What’s especially interesting to me is Michael’s data backed observation that with very few exceptions, the gun owning public doesn’t care about professional shooters. It’s one of those things that you can easily forget about when you’re deep into the competition shooting world. Outside of the Miculeks, Dave Sevigny, and Rob Leatham, the professional shooting community is basically unknown to the general gun owning populace.

To wrap things up, I was wrong about American Marksman. I wish all the best luck to Michael and his crew with American Marksman. I’ll follow along as the show progresses. I still think if you’re an A-class USPSA shooter and unclassed in IDPA, you should enter! Take a swing at 50k!


  1. “Hunting” has become very unpopular. “Guns” are very unpopular. Creating a show where gun manufacturer sponsorships and the associated advertising don’t rule the roost is a good step. I agree with what they’re doing, especially now that this has posted. Thanks for following up. Truth is, it is going to take a lot of different kinds of effort to keep gun ownership from being legally extinct. We don’t need to be like my Christian family and start tearing each other apart at the seams.

    1. You may want to warn Mr. Bane to screen the applicants for their religious affiliation lest anyone in the viewing audience mistake the contest for a church function or a battle of good versus evil or something.

  2. Huh, I don’t know. I don’t really care that much about professional shooters — but watching people shoot is a lot more fun when they’re *being awesome* at it. The problem with Top Shot was they almost never let awesome people be awesome. The best parts were where you got to watch someone excel at their specialty, and saw just *how good* you could get.

  3. Most of my “shooting” friends have complained about the shows where competition is depicted, is that they either show only “pros” or only every day competitors. To get a real feel for how good great shooters are, they need to show them side by side. Then you can really understand the difference.

  4. Cant wait to see it when the winner of this TV show gets their ass handed to them when they shoot against better shooters at a national event. The ego crash will be epic! That would make better television.

  5. Guess I’m a Nielsen/Rentrak anomaly then because unless they’re some hottie running and gunning in a pair of new 5.11 tactical yoga pants I couldn’t care less about watching amateurs on reality TV. As an amateur myself (who nontheless doesn’t qualify for AM) I am much more interested watching the top competitors in the shooting sports. While there’s lessons watching newbie’s I lglean many more insights watching the Michels, Jarretts, Stoegers, Butlers, and Burketts (in addition to Jerry and Rob). As highly skilled competitors and unique “characters” each I find them far more informative, interesting, and entertaining than watching average dudes like myself.

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