“I’d like to thank my sponsors, my talented teammates, the Academy of Excellence . . .”
OK, so I didn’t actually win an Academy of Excellence award at this year’s Shooting Industry Masters, but FMG Publications certainly made everyone feel as if they won. In fact, we all went home with mini versions of the coveted trophies from the awards ceremony. The event itself is glamorous. It’s a presentation with pomp and circumstance the likes of the Oscars, Emmys or Grammys. Nominees for the Academy of Excellence are proud to be selected. And the winners? Thrilled! Days after the event, press releases flood the wires for the companies and products that have won.
The Academy of Excellence was founded 20 years ago, with the premise that a secret committee should vote for the most innovative products introduced each year. Committee member names are never released, and no company dominates the selection committee. Products are submitted in 14 separate categories. Members of the Academy review submissions, and nominees are selected. The committee votes once again for the winners, announced at the annual Shooting Industry Masters.
This year’s Shooting Industry Masters kicked off with a welcome reception held at the National Corvette Museum. There was lots of mingling, and exciting tours of the museum. The city of Bowling Green, KY, was ever gracious, and the shooting portion of the event was hosted by Rockcastle Shooting Center.
Rockcastle is a shooter’s playground. I can’t even tell you how many ranges there are, and I was very grateful that Jerry Miculek was driving the Smith & Wesson Pro Team golf cart around instead of me! I was easily turned around, jumping from shotgun to rifle and pistol events, and then to the 10 side matches.
This was only my second time attending the Shooting Industry Masters, but I have to say it’s one of the most enjoyable matches I shoot each year. There are two divisions, Pro and Industry, and both team and individual winners receive trophies and of course, bragging rights. Results are never published, though. The ultimate goal is for everyone to have fun. I also love the event as an opportunity to try new guns and gear, like this year’s crossbow side event.
It’s also exciting to see the number of women participating at the event, ladies like Tisma Juett. Tisma heads the National Shooting Sports Foundation’s (NSSF) First Shots program, and her excitement for shooting and for First Shots is infectious. One goal for the Industry Masters is to raise money for First Shots. This year that amount was an impressive $37,000!
The Shooting Industry Masters is a wonderful event. Exclusive to members of the firearms and outdoor industry, it’s a celebration of innovation. It is also an opportunity for those who work behind the scenes to get out to the range and enjoy shooting and fun, friendly competition. For more information on the event and past winners, visit Shooting Industry Magazine.