Category Archives: Events

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!




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

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.”

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!

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.