WON Landing Page OCT 2022

Gabby Franco: About American Airgunner Challenge Season 2

You may remember Gabby Franco from her appearances on “Top Shot.” Recently, Gabby made a return to television, in the “Airgunner Challenge,” season 2.  She is one of eight contestants, in a show featuring 10 challenges with airguns. The winner will walk away with $25,000. The show’s host is Rossi Morreale, who has hosted many television shows and also, “People” magazine voted him one of the “Sexiest Men Alive.” 

We caught up with Gabby recently, after two shows had aired, and she filled us in on the challenges as much as she could. Gabby is sponsored by Walther Arms, a sister company with Umarex USA, an airgun manufacturer. 

Walther PDP it's your duty to be ready -H

Sponsored by Walther Arms

American Airgunner Challenge Season 2

What do you want us to know about “American Airgunner Challenge?”

Walther Arms invited me to participate in the American Airgunner Challenge about two months before the filming started. I said, “Yeah, of course, I’m on it!” And then, I asked, “Now, exactly what is this all about?”—Gabby laughs. I am always up for challenges. I knew this competition would not disappoint, so I prepared myself as best that I could. I asked a friend to help me train with long guns because I hadn’t shot rifles consistently for about five years. 

When I got to the competition, I realized the rest of the competitors were rifle shooters. I thought, “Wow, I am definitely the odd one.” I am a pistol shooter. Shooting air rifles is a different ballgame than a standard AR15 or a bolt-action. The bullet drops faster because it does not have the power of a firearm. So it can be challenging to figure out the hold within just a 50-yard difference (e.g., 100-yds to 150yds). Needless to say, it is a real challenge, and in all seriousness, I had to put my mind and soul into it to keep up with the competition and do my best. 

American Airgunner Franco

How does this show compare to your experiences with “Top Shot?”

There is a big difference between both competitions. Competitors “Top Shot” had a large variety of skills. Some shooters were very good at shotgun. Others were more proficient with rifle and pistol shooting, while others had general shooting skills. It was hard to know how that was going to play out. 

We are all shooting airguns in American Airgunner’s challenge. So, there is not knife throwing—thank God—or other non-gun-related competition. I find this competition a lot more fun than “Top Shot.” We are all excited about everyone’s successes and hurt for each other’s shortcomings. We are competitors, but like in shooting sports, we are also friends!

The elimination process is also different. We will compete to accumulate points and earn a spot in the Final Challenge. 

Gabby Franco on field

What are the benefits of this show?

Airgunning is like a parallel world from the firearms shooting. I shot air and sports pistol in the Olympic shooting sports, which are very different from the airguns we are shooting each challenge. I had no idea these airguns even existed; people can hit targets at 200+ yards with them, and some come in .50 caliber. The best part is that these airguns are very affordable and fun to shoot. Umarex even has a super cool arrow rifle! American Airgunners Challenge brings awareness of airguns’ capabilities for target shooting and even to go hunting. 

Have you done all 10 shows?

Yes, but I can’t tell you anything else. 

What have the responses been on social media?

People love it. My husband said, “I love that it’s easygoing and fun, and not stressful! Y’all look like you’re having fun shooting guns and competing.” That’s pretty much the response I get throughout my social media platforms, too.

Gabby_walther

What’s next for you?

Currently, I compete in several local competitions, and I have a few major matches. I will be in the 2021 Caroline Classic in North Carolina, Area 4 Championship, sponsored by Walther, and the USPSA nationals. As far as academics, I’m working my way to earning a bachelor’s in Psychology. I have 69 credits so far with a 3.96 GPA. After I get my Bachelor’s, I’m going for my Ph.D. My ultimate goal is to work as a psychologist and researcher in space programs. It has been a long journey with long days and short nights, but I am looking forward to graduating at the end of next year.

Final thoughts?

Getting out of your comfort zone is always a great thing to do. It encourages the exploration of new things to understands one’s mindset. It provides an opportunity to become aware of weaknesses. It frees you from the “I can’t” mentality that promotes finding ways of doing things while constantly learning about yourself. Getting out of you comfort zone also means that you might often lose, but you become stronger and wiser in the end. In other words, I choose to clear the fog of fear and doubt by constantly testing my abilities and my mindset. “American Airgunner Challenge” is proof of that.

Check out the show, airing on Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.ml (EST) on Outdoor Channel.

Stop by Gabby Franco’s website.

  • About Barbara Baird

    Publisher/Editor Barbara Baird is a freelance writer in hunting, shooting and outdoor markets. Her bylines are found at several top hunting and shooting publications. She also is a travel writer, and you can follow her at https://www.ozarkian.com.