Training and Competing Out-of-State

downloadFor the remainder of August and most of September I’ll be in New Orleans, LA.

My slightly younger cousin, Mackenzie Hughes, is attending NOCCA Culinary Academy (New Orleans Center for Creative Arts).  She auditioned to get a spot for her sophomore year, in the spring of her freshman year.  She got in, excelled and is continuing there as a Junior this year.  It’s really pretty incredible – the culinary academy was piloted by the Emeril Lagassee Foundation, it’s very difficult to get in and there are only a handful of students chosen from the applicants.  I believe Mackenzie’s sophomore class only had 12 students, though don’t quote me on that number.   I’m extremely proud of her!

Since both my aunt and uncle work full time and Kenzie doesn’t have her driver’s license yet, and no car pools were available – I headed to New Orleans to be the designated chauffeur for a while till something else can be worked out.  I packed the essentials:

And oh yeah, clothes, because ranges frown upon naked competition.  Can’t say I’d argue with them about it.  Ever had any shrapnel/bbs/casings fall back inside your shirt?  Burn-your-flesh hot!  I’m pretty sure nude shooting is about as advisable and cooking bacon while naked, for many reasons.

I have been checking out for NSCA events in Louisiana and Mississippi to keep things dialed in leading up to the Harvest Moon Classic in the beginning of October in Sarasota, FL and then of course, NSCA Nationals in San Antonio, TX at the end of October.  Hoping to find some great events and competitors to team up with!

In JiuJitsu world I scored big and found three gyms near my aunt’s house.  JiuJitsu is like sporting clays – once its in your blood – you gotta have it!  You crave it!  I’ll be visiting the local places, hopefully learning new techniques and styles and trying to improve my game all around.

As for the fishing – I’m in New Orleans with many types of water ways and places to choose from, from brackish, salt and fresh – who knows what I’ll land?!  Maybe I’ll even return with a Cajun accent.

No matter where I go, or what I do I hope I can always find ways to improve my skills to make me better at what I do to help me achieve my goals and as always- have fun in the process!




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Winter Strength Camp – Sarasota, FL, January!

January 15-18th The Winter Strength Camp will be taking place in Sarasota, FL.

I will be teaching Thursday’s training sessions so register now to secure your spot.  You can sign up for the entire incredible camp featuring Frank DiMeo, Eric Guttmann, Joy Bixbe, Susan DiMeo, Vince Uttermohlen and myself or just sign up per training block!

Sign Up Now at

The Thursday morning session from 9am to 1pm I will be covering:  Mental Bio-Locks - A  system of reprogramming your mind for training and life success.  

Mental Bio-Locks is the process of teaching yourself how to think while training.  This is transferable to other areas of life and revolves off a system of mental tricks to make your body do what you intend for it to do instead of its instinctive path.  In short – everyone wants to be a race car driver, but the big mistake they make is spending all of their time working on their car instead of learning of how to drive.  You can have the fastest car in the world, but if you don’t know how to drive it chances are, someone who knows how to drive will beat you in a Prius and you yourself will crash and burn.

Sign up now at

Thursday afternoon from 2pm to 6pm I will be discussing:   Short Steel Bending and Scrolling - How to build phenomenal grips for martial arts and functional strength.

Short steel bending is a great way to visibly monitor your gains in wrist, hand and grip strength.  Not only to monitor it, but to increase it exponentially for out of this world grip and mental focus to apply across all your training endeavors.  The gains from this type of training build a grip that is nearly impossible to break and in the martial arts world this is paramount.  From a functional strength perspective, steel bending builds hands, wrists, forearms and grip that is necessary and healthy for optimum longevity and mobility.

Steel scrolling is an incredible way to train in itself.  It’s essentially one long rep isometric and if you don’t already do some form of cross training, which teaches you how to breath and have cardio strength while under duress, steel scrolling is a powerful way hone this skill set.  In the world of martial arts your focus is to last as long as possible with the greatest strength, hold, endurance and aerobic capacity.  Steel scrolling builds all these facets through one long isometric movement.  During this session we will have hands-on learning.  I will teach you how to focus, control, and breath-through to bending and scrolling steel even if you think it impossible.

So hurry up and secure your spot out of the cold in Sarasota, FL at Cave Strong’s Winter Training Camp, lest your training and strength be left out in the cold for the rest of the year!  Sign up now at

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Grow Up! Be A Man!

Lack of strength of character makes me crazy!

Normally my blogs and site are focused more on shooting, strength training and fitness, strongman and martial arts, however I believe that strong character is something that seems to be seriously lacking in our society lately and after something my mother witnessed, I felt it a good time to use the incident to cover the subject.  Strong character is a component in the make of a person that is invaluable and determines not only how you treat others, but how they in-turn view and treat you.

My mom was at a Subway picking up my favorite foot-long Philly Cheesesteak (token plug for Subway), when the couple in line ahead of her were asked for their order.  The couple, my mom says, looked to be about 17, stepped up to begin, the girl going first.  She asks for a foot-long Cold Cut Combo.  The “man” she’s with says, “Oh no-no, you can’t get that.   A six-inch turkey or veggie only.   Those are your choices.”

The girl looks at him, confused and asks, “What? Why?”

He shoots back, “Because – I don’t date fatties.”

The girl actually changed her order.  She orders the six-inch turkey and the kicker is when she gets to the register she was the one to pay for her sandwich.  Adding insult to injury her stellar boyfriend gives his Subway points card to get the points for her purchase, of the sandwich she didn’t want, for which she was paying.

There are so many things wrong with this scenario.

  1. No guy, regardless of age, should say things like that, particularly to the girl he is dating.   Here he must be referred to as a “guy,” because a “man,” should know better.
  2. Weight should not be a reason to date or not date someone.  The only time weight should be a factor or mentioned is if you’re earnestly concerned for someone’s health.
  3. This girl must have absolutely no self-respect, confidence or self-worth.  What has she been taught that she would tolerate being spoken to in a such a manner?
  4. Why would she change her order when she was the one paying for her own meal?
  5. This is just a personal issue, because of how I was raised, but unless a dutch payment plan was pre-arranged, this did seem to be a first or at least second date, what kind of a guy accepts his date having to pay for her meal – particularly at a Subway?   I’m sorry, this is not a point of liberation, I don’t think women are less than men, or incapable of paying for their own things, but there are some things that are still a point of chivalry that men should do – at least on the first date.  A woman should be treated like a lady.   I mean the word, “lady,” in the old sense of the word – Someone respected, honored and cherished.  Certain behaviors should not take place around her.

There is no honor or character evident by belittling others or trying to control them, particularly over something as narrow-minded and judgmental as someone’s weight.  We may say that it’s a symptom of what the media pushes at us, but that excuse only works to a certain degree.  At some point people have to be responsible for their own thoughts and actions, overriding what they’re being told is acceptable and making a conscious choice to see what’s right and ethical and act on it.

My mom said this girl was beautiful and yet she still tolerated his words and conceded to what he wanted.  It makes me wonder if she has no positive male influence or if no one bothered to teach her that she has more worth than to allow someone to treat her in such a way.  I do wish I had been there.  I would have corrected him and bought her meal for her – whatever kind she wanted.  If for nothing else than for her to know that not all young men behave or think like that and regardless of whether she was fit or overweight – she was beautiful and worth far more than a guy like him.  All women are.

So for the guys out there who want to treat women poorly and show weak character – Know this:  Strength will always dominate weakness, whether it’s mental, physical or spiritual and soon-to-be-men like me and those I strive to be like, will always win. Both the battle and the girl.

As a side note:  If you see this happen – please contact 1-800-CALLNOAH immediately!

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Simple mistakes can cost your score

Noah Jeffries at FishHawk Sporting Clays

I’ve been working my way up the NSCA classifications for the past 2 years now.  My opportunities to shoot NSCA competitions are peppered through out the year so it takes a while when doing it that way.  Particularly if some of the shoots have only so many shooters per class – if you win your class you get a punch, but coming in 2nd or 3rd gets you nothing.  You need to have more than 10 shooters to get a nice punch grouping.

I’ve been in B class for a while trying to earn the eight punches I needed to move up to “A” class.  I very much wanted to be in “A” class this year when I went to State competition.   FishHawk Sporting Clays has some great events and have a good number of competitors show up for their NSCA shoots.  On March 10th I was hoping to secure the win in “B” and with the existing seven punches I had already, I just needed one more to move to “A.”


At the end of the event I did with “B” and was awarded four punches given the number of competitors in my class, but what I couldn’t shake was the irritation with my own score.  I had done alright scoring an 89 out of 100, but station 16 was my downfall.  I had gone all day only dropping six clays.  By the time I reached station 16, my last and final set of the day I was sporting a 94.  I was pretty darn happy with that!

Station 16 was a beautiful pair with a great challenge!  As Steve Middleditch says with his British* accent, “It’s exciting!”  One was a far Teal and the other, a powerful launching Chondelle.  I love that stuff!  I decided to use my cylinder choke for the 10 yard and a full choke for the 50 yard.  Sounds logical right?

The calls went like this:

Me: Pull! (bang, bang)

Trapper: Dead, loss

Me: Pull! (bang, bang)

Trapper: Lost pair

Me: What the?? How did I miss those?  Both of them? Are you sure? Doah! *grumble* PULL! (bang, bang)

Trapper: Lost pair, shooter out with a one.

A one? A one! I was livid!  I’ll admit it, sometimes I may have a John McEnroe reaction to my errors, though I don’t throw my Beretta, because quite frankly it costs more than a tennis racket and I adore my shotgun.  I stood, dumbfounded, staring at the field and traps. I looked down at my gun and realized I had the barrels set wrong.  I always shoot the top barrel at the first bird.  It’s just the way I prefer to do it.  My lever was in the reverse position.  I had in fact shot the full choke at the 10 yard bird and the open cylinder at the 50 yard bird.  No wonder I didn’t hit them.  Quite frankly I still should have smashed the 10 yarder every time, but only did once.  It was obliterated – smoke, but dropped five clays at that one station from a very minor, rookie error.

Lesson learned

I will never again mount my gun in station and just assume the lever is in the correct position as it is 99% of the time.  It’s that one percent that can cost you your score, place or worse – if you’re in purse competition – the winning spot for the cash.  Lesson learned and I’m thankful I was far enough ahead in class that I still placed and was able to win class and concurrent classification in Sub Juniors, but till they announced scores I thought for sure I was sunk.

Simple mistakes can be made at any time whether you’re nine competing for the first time or 65 shooting in the Lifetime Masters division.  Never assume everything is as it was at the last station or become comfortable in the assumption, “but it’s always set this way.”

    • Check the barrel you put your choke in twice to make sure you didn’t switch it if you’re shooting a double barrel.
    • Check your lever that determines which barrel fires first (if you have one).
    • If you change your ammo depending on the bird, make sure you’re grabbing from the correct pocket and read the shell to make certain.

Small things make the difference.

*I was corrected by Steve in the Comments section of my Bio page.  LOL  I originally thought he was Scottish, but I was evidently wrong.  The original writing of this article stated, “Scottish.”  Corrected with my apologies and respect to Mr. Middleditch. 

“Eyes clear, keep your feet, mind your heart.”

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Tip of the Week – Shooting on a pistol range

Gun handling and an outdoor range – Is there any difference between indoor and outdoor?

As you may know an outdoor range generally does not have a stall with visual blinds on either side of you to block your view of the shooter next to you firing the giant S&W 500.   Sometimes if you shoot at an indoor range these blinds, that are somewhat bulletproof (Only to certain calibers. The downside to the blinds is not being able to see that shooter with the S&W 500 who could potentially accidentally fire through the blind), can loll you into a state of complacency for gun handling.  Today I’m going to take you through the proper gun handling at an outdoor range, which is more conducive to gun handling in a real-world situation.

A common, but deadly mistake

First things first.  For some reason people tend to think – and I’m not sure why – the side of the gun is really cool.  If you’ve ever shot at an outdoor range and have been called out by the range officer for the following reason, I’m about to tell you why you were reprimanded.  Something you cannot see in an indoor range while standing in the stall, because of the blinds on either side, is the shooter on your left and/or right, but at an outdoor range there are no bullet-proof blinds.  So you have to be very careful about where the muzzle of your firearm is pointing.  For those of you who may fuzzy on the “muzzle,” I’ll quote my boss who says, “It’s the big thing that goes ‘BANG‘ with the hole on the end.”

This may seem obvious to most people – Don’t turn your gun and point it at someone else, but you would be surprised how often this error is made when moving from an indoor shooting range to an outdoor.   Indoor ranges, while you should still be mindful of this rule and keep your firearm facing downrange, do allow you to become lazy with gun handling, because of the safety features in the design of the room.

Let’s say for example there are five shooters on your left side and five more to your right.  You cannot turn your gun to the side to admire it, because there’s no telling if it may still go off.  Some shooters fire several rounds, then in their enthusiasm or rookie error, turn the gun to ogle it’s design and beauty, then return to firing the remaining bullets in the clip or revolver.  Yes I’m serious – It happens very frequently.   Those remaining bullets as you turn to appreciate the aesthetics of your gun, can still fire if you’re not paying attention and even if you are, it can still fire severely injuring or even killing the shooter next to you.  Penalties for that are much worse than being yelled at by a range officer.  That’s also the reason they have range officers.

Range Officers – Contrary to popular opinion they do not exist just to annoy you

Keep this in mind too, range officers are just doing their job.  It’s their job to keep everyone safe and having a good time.  Don’t get upset with them and take it personally if you’re scolded for doing something wrong.  Bad things can happen in nano-seconds on a shooting range so a range officer has to be quick to catch small errors that can lead to life changing events.

Here is a list of things to keep in mind at an outdoor range:

  1. Keep your muzzle pointed downrange at all times
  2. No rapid fire
  3. Ears and eyes must be worn at all times
  4. When cease-fire is called, make sure your gun is empty, locked back and/or cylinder out or broken open.
  5. Never pull that trigger till you know you’re on target.

Just a hint: If you line up your sights and wait three to four seconds before pulling the trigger, in that small period of time is your, “focus sweet-spot.”  These are just some tips to keep you and the shooters next to you stay safe and having fun.  Remember always that while target practice at a range is a great time – you are still holding a loaded weapon.

Check out Tenoroc Shooting Sports & Training in Lakeland, FL on Tenoroc Mine Rd.

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Sheriff Grady Judd’s Bustin’ Clays Event 2012

Sheriff Grady Judd is the sheriff of the county I live in.  He is a nationally well-known sheriff who is probably most well known for the comment made to Fox News when a day long man-hunt for a criminal who shot and killed K9 Officer, Deputy Matt Williams and his partner Diogi, ended in a barrage of gun fire on September 28, 2006.  The reporter asked Sheriff Judd, “…why did you shoot the suspect 68 times?”  Sheriff Judd replied, “Because we ran out of bullets.”

Sheriff Grady Judd presenting me with the HOA award

I first met Sheriff Judd in person when I competed in a sporting clays fundraiser in 2010 for the Polk County Builders Association.  I showed up just to compete as an individual when the range owner had told me that Sheriff Judd had been asked to come and do the trophy presentation.  The Sheriff is someone I’ve always admired and the thought of getting to meet him and have him sign my illustrious hat was enough to get me to compete that day.  The sheriff’s sporting clays team was there competing as well.  I was squadded with a group of older men as usual and then ended up winning the youth, the open and the HOA.

This event is where I met the Sheriff’s shooting team.  I had shot against them in several competitions through out 2010, but never had the opportunity to meet and really speak with them.  Captain Kevin Widner and Captain Larry Williams quickly became people whom I deeply respect and I was honored when they asked me to be on their team the following week at the Sheriff Gee’s Shoot Out in Hillsborough County.  Since then I was invited to shoot on their team for the 2011 Sheriff Judd’s Bustin’ Clays event to raise money for fallen officers’ families, then again at the 2011 Sheriff Gee’s Shoot Out and now again this year and Sheriff Judd’s event which will take place this Saturday, March 3, 2012.

Proceeds of this event go to assist the families of fallen officers of the Polk County Sheriff’s Office.  Even if you’re not a competitive shooter, buying raffle tickets for the drawings or making a donation would be deeply appreciated for this great and worthy cause!

On a side note: Captain Widner officially retired this year and in my opinion the sheriff’s office loses a great officer and honorable man.  He’s gone out of his way to make sure a 13, then 14 and now 15 year old kid was acknowledged and made to feel part of well respected and incredible team.  It’s allowed me to have time to have conversations with officers of the law to know more of what I would like to do and dedicate my life to.  It’s been a great honor to compete along side them and I deeply appreciate them always treating me as an equal.

Mad respect to the competitive shooting team of the Polk County Sheriff’s Office!

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The Delta Classic – The Breakdown

I began shooting competitively in February of 2010 when I was 13.  In the last year and a half I’ve done a large number of NSCA, ATA and charity events.  To be honest – it’s become a blur and the exact number was lost somewhere in January of 2011.  Since I live in Florida even though there are competitions in the summer I rarely turn out for them.  May is generally when I stop competing and then pick it back up in mid to late August.  So I cram as many events in as I can from September to May.

This year I received sponsorship and was able to compete in the NSCA Delta Classic tournament in Arkansas.  I’ve only had the opportunity to compete at NSCA events in Florida, but I’ve been at State twice and that is conceivably the most difficult I’d seen till September 24th of this year.  Making it to the Delta Classic meant a great deal to me and it was the first event I’d been to where the payout was so high for those who placed in the top 10.   The Delta had some of the top shooters in the nation make an appearance.

For me personally the two day event was heart-stopping.  Day one introduced me to the White Course of Death.  It’s appropriate they called it the white course, because that was the color of my knuckles while gripping my gun.  It was – hands down – the most difficult course I’d ever seen.  I wasn’t the only one.  High level, multi-time US Open champions barely made the 70 mark out of the 100 clays thrown on the White course.  It was the lowest score I ever made in a competition.  I’m fairly certain the closest bird was 60 yards out.  So high, so far and screaming at top speeds.

I was leveled on day one by that White course.  It knocked the wind out of my sails, destroyed my confidence and made me sick to my stomach.  I am by nature a ultra-competitive, perfectionist.  I can’t stand to get less than an “A” on school work, a ‘good job’ from my sensei in Jiu Jitsu, which yes are rarely doled out, to not get my PR on the next lift or bend in strength training, it drives me insane to not shoot a 25 out of 25 in skeet and trap and anything under a 90 on a sporting clays course just chaffes my hide.  To top it off I was sponsored to go.  I felt like I let the people down who’d shown an interest and confidence in me.

Blue Course SideSaturday night I thought about the course over and over again.  Why I’d shot a certain way, why I’d taken my face off the gun at the wrong moment, my follow through, my mount, why I’d stopped the gun when I shouldn’t have and then it dawned on me that I was letting all the technical points of shooting override the point – Hit the target.  It’s really a pretty simple sport when you come right down to it.  Clear out the techinical mumbo-jumbo, see the clay, shoot and hit it.  It shouldn’t matter how far, how high or how fast.  I’d forgotten all that.

Sunday I went in with that mindset and shot with my squad on the Blue course.  I faired much better and shot one of the top scores on the course during my flight.  It still wasn’t enough to put me in the money.  Saturday’s score kept me in 11th place, one spot of the cash, but not bad considering there were 316 competitors over all.  I had a hard time coming to grips with the fact that I didn’t place, but one thing was glaringly clear to me – what I learned on the White course on Saturday was invaluable.

The competitions I’ve done in the past few weeks since coming home have been amazing.  Keeping in mind what I saw and learned that day, the targets that everyone else complain about look like nothing to my eyes now.  It’s changed my perspective and my skill level.  I guess sometimes even if you don’t place in the money, the knowledge you gain far outweighs the dollar amount in the long run.

When you’re traveling on the road – sometimes you have to stop and do some fun things too.  Like getting in a few rock lifts and stopping in Baton Rouge, LA to get some pics at Red Jacket, talk to a few of the guys and bend some nails for them, because they were nice enough to come out and speak to me.  I never miss an episode of Sons of Guns!

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How strength training relates to sporting clays accuracy

Who talks about that?  No one.   Only having been in sporting clays competition for a year and a half I have not had that much exposure to the ins and outs of the physical training other shooters use, but overall I’ve noticed that there doesn’t seem to be much talk of it.  Mostly it’s about hitting that target or chasing this crosser or gun type, load speed, type of powder or stock build.

Yes it’s important to have a great piece of equipment and the right kind of ammo to hit your target, but you need to be able to physically repeat the action again and again, competition after competition without having your body get tired from it, feel sore or stressed.

If you’re reading this and thinking, “This kid’s 15.  What could he possibly know about physical soreness or strain from shooting,” you’d be right – I’m not old enough to feel the strain of repeated action with a weighted implement over time, but most all of my team mates are retirees, all men 60 or over – some of whom served in WWII (thank you by the way), and while I can’t relate to their physical ailments I do listen.

I’m competitive in martial arts, I’ve been doing strongman shows since I was six (yes I get that that sounds ridiculous to many adults, but there it is).  I’ve been listening to my dad, one of the greatest strength coaches and strongmen around and his friends who are also world-class elite level coaches and competitors about how to rehab and prehab all sorts of injuries and problem areas for numerous different sports.

Let’s face it, if you can pop the gun up into your correct mounted position quickly and effortlessly hundreds of times in a row without eventually feeling the effects of it then you’re going to have increased scores and accuracy.   I give you the kettlebell swing and kettlebell snatch.

This movement utilizing the kettlebell implement can work for men, women, youth, and senior shooters.  It comes in varying weights so you can start small and work your way up.  The movement itself replicates the similar motion of pulling the gun from the resting position to mount.  Whether you’re a FITASC shooter or you start from mount the motion is the same.  The repetitive movement of the kettlebell swing and the kettlebell snatch will strengthen your whole body.  It also significantly helps with rotator cuff issues which numerous shooters seem to complain about whether they realize that’s the issue or not.

It’s easy to learn, easy to do and for competitive shooters who travel frequently the bell is easy to take with you.  You can order bells from numerous different places today as well as buy some in-store, but a great place to pick them up is from the company that reintroduced the kettlebell to America – Dragon Door.  If you’re flying to an event you can swap out to a thick resistance band like those carried by Primal Fitness Systems.  The same exercise motion can be done using these bands and offers great training as well, plus you can just toss it in your travel case.

Don’t forget that training before a competition – not high level, but just an endurance warm up – is great way to get the mind sharp, the eyes alert and the body’s acuity ready to smash those targets.  Another bonus to swings and snatches, it builds up the chest and shoulder muscles and adds a nice pad to withstand the constant kick of the gun.  Isn’t it better to have your body primed and ready for your sport than to have to rely solely on the equipment you’re using?  You’re the equipment first.

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Delta Classic

I’m really looking forward to competing at the Delta Classic this month in Tillar, AR.   I received notice of the event about a month ago and am trying to get in all the big competitions I can before the end of the year.  As an NSCA shooter I’m only eligible to compete as a Sub-Junior till the end of the calendar year once I turn 15, so only four months left.  Nationals is next month in Texas so I need to get in a few more registered competitions to make sure my aim is on target.


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