The 40 Under 40 Awards
SHOT Business presents the next generation of firearm industry leaders
Leadership, for many, is a hard-to-define quality. But there’s really nothing all that mystifying about it. Reduced to basics, it involves integrity, passion, and determination. These are traits that help you create a vision that inspires the people around you. And when people are inspired, magic happens.
Director, New Product Development for Olin Winchester, LLC
With a degree in mechanical engineering, Kyle Masinelli oversees the design, development, and implementation of new ammunition products for Winchester Ammunition. His career at Winchester began in 2007, and has revolved around the development of new, innovative products for the recreational sport shooter and hunter, as well as law enforcement and domestic or foreign militaries.
His work has led to him securing several utility and design patents. His most rewarding accomplishments have centered around developing new products that help provide a solution to bring new shooters and hunters into the industry. This has occurred in many forms, such as new bullet technology at a lower price point or a new caliber with lower recoil that doesn’t sacrifice performance and helps a hunter harvest their first big-game animal. This is exactly what he and his team accomplished when they designed Winchester’s 350 Legend.
Masinelli says the ideas that drive innovation come in a variety of ways, whether by addressing a very specific customer need or while he is out hunting on his own. He is most excited about the rapid growth of first-time shooters in the recent decade, and that they may help identify new needs that will lead the way to new ammo advancements.
Media Relations Manager, Leupold & Stevens, Inc.
Now in his fourth year with Leupold & Stevens, Shawn Skipper is the first point of contact for any media partners who work with the Oregon-based optics manufacturer. He spearheads the development of the company’s public relations strategy and oversees all public and media relations activities. In addition, he partners with other members of Leupold’s marketing team to develop creative content, manage vendor relationships, and plan the media advertisement schedule.
Skipper joined Leupold in October 2017, after nearly six years working in the National Rifle Association’s publications division. During his time with NRA, he held several roles, among them the digital managing editor position with American Hunter, one of NRA’s official journals. In that capacity, he coordinated the day-to-day production of AmericanHunter.org, and regularly authored both print and digital articles for the American Hunter brand. An avid hunter, Skipper grew up in Maryland and Delaware, and eventually joined the NRA’s publications department in order to combine his joint passions for storytelling and the outdoors.
Nearly a decade after his career started, Skipper can’t imagine being employed elsewhere. He enjoys working with the amazing people of the shooting, hunting, and outdoor world, and values the industry’s ardent support for both the Second Amendment and the rights of outdoorsmen and women. He enters 2021 excited to help proudly tell the story of the Leupold brand—one that’s firmly rooted in the self-reliant spirit, ingenuity, and performance you’d expect from a truly American manufacturer.
Marketing Manager, Walther Arms
Raised in East Texas, Cody Osborn has a master’s of education in agriculture leadership, education, and communications from Texas A&M University. In 2015, he made the career shift to the shooting sports industry when he joined the German gunmaker Walther Arms as a dealer support representative. His passion for the shooting sports was evident, and he was quickly promoted to dealer support manager and then marketing manager in 2018. His role encompasses everything to do with external communications for the brand, including PR, social media, print and digital campaigns, shooting team management, dealer events and promotions, sponsorships, trade shows, and writer relations.
Osborn is also on the Walther Pro team, competing in up to 15 major U.S. Practical Shooting Association handgun competitions a year, shooting 60,000 to 80,000 rounds in the process. When not competing, he is out hunting whitetail deer and elk. Passionate about performance handguns, one of Osborn’s personal missions is to explain why it is worth buying the best: “If you do not, you will end up outshooting your gun as your skills increase. Go ahead and get something that, no matter what your skill level is, it can keep up. However, if your skill level is low, the gun can help boost your skills. The old adage of ‘buy once, cry once’ totally applies when purchasing a handgun. That’s why I am so proud to work with Walther.”
He also feels very passionate about encouraging youngsters to take up shooting sports. “As a Millennial myself, I understand how rewarding the pastime is for my age group.”
Partner & President of Defender Outdoors, LLC
Will James didn’t start off in the firearm industry. He originally worked in commercial real estate with the Staubach Company, and then dabbled in the private-equity world. But the Fort Worth, Texas, area didn’t have the type of gun store he was looking for, so he and his partners created their own. The result is Defender Outdoors, a 50,000-square-foot indoor range and retail store, with a 150-acre sporting clays facility. The team works to be fully immersed in the latest the industry has to offer, and have the knowledge to explain that to their clients. Their goal is to offer a good, better, and best option in every category, which in turn allows the customer to choose from three price points. This allows them to stay relevant and keep the “small” brick-and-mortar alive.
James’ uncle got him interested in firearms and optics at a very young age and continues to share his wealth of knowledge about the industry. James has also learned from other established range owners, so paying it forward is important to him as well. Defender Outdoors has had a number of new range owners come to see them, and they are always happy to pass on what they have learned.
Design Engineer, Savage Arms
John Linscott graduated from the University of Massachusetts’ mechanical engineering program and became a full-time design engineer for Savage in 2010. He was placed on Savage’s A17 project as a test engineer and ended up as the lead on the entire project, taking the A17 from prototype to market for the industry’s first semi-automatic .17 HMR.
More recently, Linscott took over the Renegauge shotgun project, taking it from a stalled project to become Savage’s revolutionary, American-made, semi-auto 12-gauge shotgun. The Renegauge features a patented Dual Regulating Inline Valve (D.R.I.V.) gas-operated recoil system with a completely new design and look that results in a firearm that easily cycles every type of shell, from light target loads to magnum shells. After a shot is fired, both valves open simultaneously to relieve gas pressure, and the pressure needed to cycle the action is directed back into the system. Any excess pressure escapes through the front of the gas system. D.R.I.V. pulls just what it needs, no matter the intensity of the load.
Outside of work, Linscott is a talented and accomplished fencer. He has competed for many years as a member of the Pioneer Valley Fencing Academy in Easthampton, Massachusetts, and has earned an A-rating.
Media Relations Manager, Danner Boots and LaCrosse Footwear
Erin Hutchison was first introduced to the hook-and-bullet world in 2015, when she accepted a marketing role at LaCrosse Footwear, Inc. It didn’t take long before she was invited by coworkers to tag along on an archery hunt. So, off she went, on the road to Kentucky to hunt early-season whitetail in sweltering heat. She loved every minute of that uneventful hunt and hasn’t stopped since. Fast-forward five years, and Hutchison now totes the nickname “the dainty sniper” by hunting buddies. She has become a passionate advocate for women’s hunting and introducing the sustainable lifestyle to others—especially those, like her, who simply didn’t grow up around it.
“Hunting has changed my life,” says Hutchison. “I still have a lot to learn, but continue to push and surprise myself. I didn’t expect the confidence boost that comes with adventuring into the woods with my rifle or bow in hand. I used to be afraid to walk home alone in the dark, but now I’m rallying girlfriends for a drop camp in grizzly country. Plus, I’m the friend who brings wild game to a dinner party, and I love that.”
Hutchison is currently based in Portland, Oregon, where she has access to all the outdoor activities she enjoys most: hunting, hiking, kayaking, running, skiing, and flyfishing.
Media and Events Manager, Browning
It was Shaundi Campbell’s passion for hunting and shooting that helped her land her first job at Browning after graduating from Weber State University with a degree in marketing. Within six short years, her work ethic and love of the job helped her climb the ladder from customer service to media and events manager. Now head of all events and media relations, Campbell plays a significant role in how consumers see and identify with Browning as an industry-leading brand.
Already an accomplished hunter in her own right, Campbell continues to hone her skills as she organizes hunting and shooting events for media members and consumers. Her experience in the field is vital to introducing new products to the marketplace, and the authenticity she brings into the field allows her to connect, educate, and bond with everyone around her. With her ability to speak with authority, her leadership and influence will only continue to grow.
While Browning events take her to far-off places and provide opportunities to hunt and shoot, she has excelled on the business side as well. Managing a large marketing budget, working with third-party vendors, and addressing the needs of the media, Campbell has proven her business skills are as sharp as her shooting. Her talents have been a great asset for Browning, as she’s able to capitalize on an excellent mixture of business acumen and passion for the outdoors. She has a bright future ahead of her.
Vice President of Sales, Bergara Rifles
Growing up in Tennessee in a family of shotgunners, Ben Fleming traveled throughout the Southeast chasing waterfowl, dove, and quail. This love of the outdoors and shooting sports fueled a determination to find a position in the outdoor industry. In 2005, he took a sales position for a small shooting-accessory company based in Nashville, before moving to BPI Outdoors—which owns Bergara, CVA, and a few other hunting brands—in 2011. At that time, Bergara was solely a barrel maker, and in 2014, Fleming was given the opportunity to be part of the team that would start Bergara rifles.
Over the past 10 years with BPI/Bergara, Fleming has completely immersed himself in all areas of the rifle-shooting sports, including long-range shooting and spending time shooting .22 rifles with his sons. He is now responsible for operating and overseeing the entire sales channel for Bergara rifles in North America, and works closely with the USA and Spain teams to develop new products for the Bergara rifle line.
“This industry is growing and changing like never before. The quality of product being introduced by us as manufacturers is changing the expectations of how shooting products are expected to perform,” he says. “Each one of us in this business has been brought up by some of the hardest working, most knowledgeable and generous people in the industry. It is our job to carry on their legacy of hard work, kindness, and a deep passion to see the shooting sports industry grow.”
Robert W. Woodruff Curator, Cody Firearms Museum
Ashley Hlebinsky is one of the nation’s foremost authorities on firearm history. Recently, she served as both curator of the Cody Firearms Museum (CFM) and project director for the museum’s multimillion dollar renovation, which reopened in July 2019. Due to her and her team’s efforts, the museum is seen as the premiere gun museum in the world. In addition, Hlebinsky is a sought-after museum consultant, guest speaker, writer, expert witness, and a TV host and producer. In 2018, she founded the first academic association in the U.S. for the study of firearm history.
As a historian who remains apolitical, Hlebinsky holds a unique niche in the field of firearms, engaging with many communities, including industry, academia, and media. She actively works to increase the level of scholarship in the United States to help the public gain a better understanding of guns. This work directly impacts legislation—recently filing a declaration in support of the plaintiff in the bump stock case against the ATF—as well as university curriculum. As a result of her efforts to educate the public, she was awarded the NSSF/POMA Shooting Sports Communicator of the Year award, and recently accepted the position of curator emerita and senior firearms scholar at the CFM—an honor typically awarded at career’s end—so she can continue to expand her advocacy beyond the walls of the museum.
Outdoor and Shooting Industry Spokesperson
Courtney Smith didn’t begin hunting until she was 26 years old, but thanks to the guidance and support of her mentors, she has become a leading voice (as “Sportswoman Courtney”) for shooting and outdoor sports. Today, she’s helping introduce others to the outdoors by serving as a mentor through social media and public speaking. She also collaborates with leading non-profits like NSSF, Ducks Unlimited, and the National Wild Turkey Federation to make the great outdoors more inviting. Whether she’s sharing tips with online followers or working with NSSF on one of its +One events, Smith continues to lead the way to the outdoors. Through programs like Toyota’s Sportswoman Adventures, she continually reaches out to people who have perhaps never considered taking part in hunting and the shooting sports, and teaches them that these pursuits are safe, rewarding, and accessible to everyone.
Industry pros like Sean Murphy from Nightforce Optics, Lena and Jerry Miculek, Allen Treadwell, Jim Gilliland, and Paul Smith of Frontline Defense Firearms Training Center and Range in Warrentown, North Carolina, have helped Smith develop and hone her shooting skills. Future goals include becoming more active in conservation, and continuing to spread the word that everyone is welcome in the shooting community. Ultimately, she hopes to encourage others in the same way so many people have encouraged her.
Founder and President of Hall-N-Hall Consulting
Stephen Hall started his journey in the shooting sports world before he could even drive, working for his parents’ range and retail operation in Edmond, Oklahoma, when still in high school. His understanding and love for technology helped to grow the business and become more efficient and profitable. As the years progressed, he took on a larger role and was tasked for projects including expansion, construction, compliance, and team development, as well as building a website and Facebook page. The page quickly became the largest of all independent dealers’ operations in the country, and was named best Facebook site by the readers of the state newspaper, The Oklahoman.
After working with many other performance-oriented dealers around the country, Hall was encouraged by them to start his own consulting business. He founded Hall-N-Hall with his wife, Meghan, to advise the nation’s range and retail dealers, distributors, and manufacturers. His guidance has been a steady force in building range and retail businesses around the country, adding millions of dollars in sales for many operations. Hall has a particular interest in building a path for young dealers, whom he passionately refers to as “the front-line leaders of the shooting sports industry.”
“During our time in retail, and now advising, our mission has been the same: growth in the shooting sports,” he says. “When we realized the overwhelming need in our industry to give retailers a helping hand, we knew we needed to act on it. Folks who listen and want to grow are doing so, even in these times.”
Public Relations and Advertising Manager, 5.11, Inc.
Kristen Gooding manages public relations and publication advertising for 5.11 within its professional (law enforcement, fire, emergency services, military) and core (recreational shooting) channels, while also overseeing a PR agency that handles mainstream fashion and lifestyle media. When approached by 5.11 in 2017 to build its public relations division, Gooding was excited about the opportunity and challenge of starting a department from the bottom up in an industry she knew little about. In an ever-changing global apparel and retail landscape, she knew the importance of aligning with a strong brand. Being a part of something greater than herself, serving those who serve and, as she puts it, “making gear for the good guys,” was an opportunity she couldn’t pass up.
Gooding successfully represents the 5.11 brand due to the passionate internal team she works alongside. By interacting with individuals across the organization, she is able to effectively convey the 5.11 story.
“5.11’s ‘Always Be Ready’ ethos has proven more relevant to more folks this year than ever before,” Gooding says. “New people are finding the brand and identifying with what we stand for. That’s what it’s all about, after all—spreading the word about our industry, the good people are doing, and welcoming newcomers.”
Vice President, Sales and Purchasing, Lipsey’s, LLC
Brett Frey grew up in the small town of Eunice, Louisiana, where his father and he spent many hours hunting and shooting. With his love for the outdoors starting at such a young age, his dream was to one day work in the industry that serves his passion. Frey’s persistence paid off when he secured a summer internship with Lipsey’s in 2005, while working to complete his MBA at Louisiana State University. After graduation, he joined the company in the purchasing department and worked his way through the ranks to become vice president in January 2020. He now leads the sales and purchasing departments for Lipsey’s, and has been part of the team that helped grow the company into one of the leading firearm wholesalers in the nation.
Frey’s love for hunting and shooting is only surpassed by his love for his family. He and his wife, Kate, are the proud parents of three children. His favorite pastime is being in the field with his son, and he looks forward to being able to pass the hunting and shooting sports traditions on to his daughters as well.
Frey does not take for granted a single day that he is able to be a part of the industry that he dreamed of working in as a child. His hope is to be a leader for the industry in the decades ahead.
Managing Director, Tweed Media
After working as news editor for Shooting Times magazine in London for four years, Selena Barr founded Tweed Media in 2009 with her husband, Simon, to deliver specialist public relations and marketing solutions to the hunting and outdoors sectors. Previously underserved by this mission-critical business service, it soon became apparent that there was a real need for professional PR. Now based in Edinburgh, the British couple get ambitious brands seen in the best magazines, featured by the most influential bloggers, and on the right social media channels. Tweed Media works with European brands to help them gain traction in the U.S., and takes American brands, including Hornady, Leica Sport Optics, Walther, and Gordy & Sons, across the pond.
Tweed Media helped launch MyOutdoorTV, Outdoor Sportsman Group’s hugely popular online streaming platform, across Europe with great success, and prevented them from taking wrong turns. As well as promoting the platform to potential new subscribers, the duo tapped into their extensive network of contacts to introduce MOTV producers to the best content producers across the continent.
Barr’s toolbox is brimming with innovative tactics that add commercial value to clients with immediately measurable benefit. She covers everything from press releases, editorial features, social media management, media buying, advertising creative, and brand identity. Tweed Media is now one of the most-talked-about, omnipresent PR agencies in the sector, with progressive and creative campaigns. In her spare time, Barr enjoys running up hills and teaching her two young daughters how to stalk wildlife.
Marketing Manager, The Sportsman’s Shop
It was the passion, excitement, and enthusiasm her new husband’s family had for the shooting sports that first drew Jessica Keffer to the industry. After managing special events and marketing for the Lancaster Chamber of Commerce and Industry, in 2014, she began working full-time for the Sportsman’s Shop in East Earl, Pennsylvania. The range and retail business, which has been family-owned and -operated since 1954, features a 12-lane indoor shooting range and 25,000 square feet of retail space, specializing in firearms, accessories, archery, and fishing tackle. In her role as marketing manager, Keffer helps to promote the business by coordinating events and developing an integrated merchandising strategy.
As a certified NRA pistol instructor, NRA Refuse to Be a Victim instructor, Home Firearm Safety instructor, and an NRA Chief Range Safety Officer, Keffer is particularly interested in expanding participation by women in the shooting sports. She founded the Lancaster County Chapter of the Well Armed Woman in 2015, which currently has more than 100 women participants, and she serves as the chapter leader of the program. In partnership with NSSF, Keffer has been working to raise awareness of unfair social media practices by Facebook, and has proudly appeared on Fox & Friends. She credits her husband of five years, Anthony, and his parents, Joe and Kathy Keffer, as her primary mentors. Two other key mentors are Carrie Lightfoot and Marti Stonecipher of the Well Armed Woman, for their passion for serving women in the shooting sports.
Social Media Manager, National Shooting Sports Foundation
While growing up in west-central Wisconsin, it was the stories told by his family and friends that grew Justin Morrissey’s passion for hunting and the shooting sports. He soon learned that the ways hunting connected him with nature, good people, places, and exciting learning opportunities made his own storytelling hobby more riveting. But it quickly became clear to him that hunting and an individual’s right to bear arms for protection and recreation is beyond a hobby—it is a lifestyle, responsibility, and essential right. Morrissey knew he needed to share these stories and make that connection to a broader audience.
His entry into the firearm industry was very natural, after his early college years working as a freelance media producer and marketing consultant. An internship with the Professional Outdoor Media Association (POMA) led Morrissey to a job with NSSF. After nearly six years working with NSSF, he is now the association’s social media manager, responsible for managing all social media content and marketing. He believes now, more than ever, it is critical for everyone to be storytellers, as well as mentors, in order to maintain and build awareness for our cherished traditions, lifestyle, and individual rights.
Founder and President, McCunn Specialty Firearms
In 2012, at the young age of 24, Brice McCunn founded McCunn Specialty Firearms in Massena, Iowa, about halfway between Des Moines and Omaha. It has been serving shooters in Iowa and Nebraska ever since. The store started humbly, in a shop located on Main Street, but, within a year, the business had outgrown that space. The nearest indoor range was well over an hour away, and McCunn personally knew several guests who were traveling all that distance to shoot. The family-owned business knew they could serve the area with a full-line store and indoor range, so a new, bigger location was secured in 2015. The store boasts several thousand square feet of retail space, a six-lane indoor shooting range, and a classroom. Guests come from many miles away to shop and shoot, and the business is now doing well over $1,000,000 every year. To serve the ever-growing crowds, McCunn employs an increasing number of team members, all of whom are dedicated to serving the community by being actively involved in the city council, schools, and church.
McCunn Specialty Firearms remains a family business. McCunn says, “I love working side by side with my father each day at the store. We share most of the duties here, and we plan to serve the public for many years to come.”
Professional Shooter, Team SIG
Lena Miculek is a third-generation professional competitive shooter and is regarded as the top female 3-Gun competitor and PCC specialist in the world. Miculek shot her first competitive match when she was just eight years old. She officially entered into the competitive shooting world in 2005 with five consecutive Sportsman’s Team Challenge Sub-Junior and Junior Division National titles. At the age of 17, Miculek won her first World Champion Title at the 2012 IPSC (International Practical Shooting Confederation) Shotgun World Shoot in Hungary.
With more than 75 major wins and eight world titles across five shooting disciplines, Miculek is a force to be reckoned with. In 2017, she took home the gold medal at the IPSC Rifle World Shoot in the Open Division–Lady Category, and in the 2019 IPSC Rifle World Shoot, she earned a silver medal and was a part of Team USA, which took home a gold medal and won the Open Lady’s shoot-off.
As a professional shooter, Miculek is a member of Team SIG and shoots the SIG P320 XFIVE Legion, SIG MPX PCC, and SIG M400 rifle in competition. Recently, she began teaching, and is working to introduce and increase female participation in the professional shooting sports. She is also the co-creator of the Miculek YouTube channel, which has more than 1.2 million subscribers.
Ammunition Production Manager and Custom Gun Shop Production Manager, Weatherby Inc.
After serving in the United States Marine Corps, and with a strong belief in the importance of the Second Amendment to ensure the security of a free state, Kevin Conroy wanted to pursue a career in the firearm industry. He attended gunsmithing school at the Colorado School of Trades, and after graduating in 2012, was hired by Weatherby.
Custom firearms are becoming more attractive, as more hunters and shooters look for firearms that meet specific needs. At Weatherby, Conroy works in the heart of this growing industry segment, and believes it is an important offering for firearm companies that want to stay competitive. One of his greatest achievements is coaching and preparing his gunsmithing team to complete a fully customized rifle in under 90 days. These are rifles chosen and designed by the customer and can include a wide range of modifications. Completing and shipping these intricate builds in 90 days or less is something unmatched in the industry.
Recently, Weatherby brought its ammo production back in-house, and Conroy was appointed to lead this new department. He was part of the team who worked on developing Weatherby’s 6.5 RPM, handling the testing and equipment modifications necessary to produce an entirely new cartridge. Future goals include how to further improve accuracy in rifles and to help conceive and develop new hunting cartridges.
Business Development Manager, TrueTimber Outdoors
Cody Sellars is the youngest son of Rusty and Paige Sellars, founders and owners of TrueTimber, an upstart camouflage brand that began in the Sellarses’ garage in the 1990s. Cody started in the family business more than a decade ago, and he and his older brother, Hunter, have been involved in all facets of the company.
The TrueTimber brand, product lines, and company have grown exponentially in the last decade, and Cody has played a big role in making that happen. He expanded and grew the business’ hard and soft goods lines, and is currently responsible for many of the company’s strategic initiatives. His day-to-day responsibilities include everything from hydrographics (the application of patterns to hardgood materials) and apparel to partnerships, sales, and marketing.
Cody is passionate about the powersport and automotive industries, with an affinity for firearms as well. As a result, he is leading efforts to expand the TrueTimber brand and business into key new verticals. The company is now present in the powersport, fishing, hunting, outdoor, automotive, lifestyle, and food and beverage industries, among others. Cody’s experience and history with the company help him keep up momentum and maximize results in several key areas. And, with continued expansion on the horizon, his responsibilities inside the business show no sign of slowing.
“Our industry is always changing, and 2020 seemed to accelerate that immensely,” Cody says. “I think we’ll come out better positioned for the future.”
Television Host, Writer, and Founder/CEO, She Hunts Skills Camp
A California native, Brittany Boddington is no stranger to television or big-game hunting. Her father, author and outdoor television personality Craig Boddington, instilled a sense of adventure in her as he traveled around the world in search of big-game animals. With her father’s help, Brittany has discovered a love for the great outdoors and has become a passionate hunter and conservationist. Her hunting career began after high school, when she went on her first safari with her father as a graduation gift in 2003. She now spends most of the year living out of a suitcase in pursuit of exotic animals and exciting adventures.
Boddington has learned through experience that the best way to preserve our hunting heritage is to teach new hunters about our way of life. With that in mind, she developed the She Hunts Skills Camp to teach women the basic skills they need to be strong and independent hunters. The campers learn everything from mounting scopes to cooking wild game. The goal is that the women will finish camp with the ability to take their families hunting, and so encourage a next generation of hunters.
Laci A. Warden
Founder/CEO, Fire and Lace Consulting
Laci Warden admits she isn’t the stereotypical outdoorsy type. While she grew up around hunting and shooting, she didn’t really know anything about it, having never done it herself. Her career in the industry started seven years ago, when she was looking for a monumental life change and started handling public relations for Winchester Ammunition. She was hooked after her first turkey hunt in March 2014. From there, she’s assisted brands such as Browning, Yamaha, and Pelican, and she recently became a yoga teacher while launching her own agency. She’s been having a blast ever since.
She’s a girl with a high-heels addiction, not a hardcore adrenaline junkie, but she does love golfing, yoga, hunting, archery, and fishing. SHOT Show is better than Christmas, in her opinion, as is being out of your comfort zone. Warden truly believes life is meant to be an epic adventure, which is what keeps her loving the opportunities for growth within the outdoor space.
To her, this industry has the potential to thrive when the rest of the world is stuck inside. “We have a responsibility to live and breathe life into new outdoorsmen and -women by helping them overcome the barriers to entry that others forget are real deterrents,” she says. “Bringing in a new perspective of what it means to explore the outdoors is challenging, yet necessary to change the narrative.”
Public Relations Manager, Mossy Oak Brand
At the age of 30, Jake Meyer is a lifelong outdoorsman living out his personal and professional dream as the public relations manager for Mossy Oak Brand camo. Born and raised in southeast Missouri, he started joining his family in the woods at the age of six; it didn’t take long for him to know that he wanted to make the outdoors a significant part of his life. He started competing in archery at the age of 12, and has since served on several industry pro staffs. Meyer studied marketing management at Southeast Missouri State University, and shortly after graduating established the Southeast Missouri chapter of Hope Outdoors, which provides an outdoor escape for youth facing adversity.
The outdoor industry is where Meyer plans to stay for the remainder of his professional career. He is most excited to apply his strengths and his passion for the outdoors to grow Mossy Oak and its respective stakeholders, and to increase the number of hunters and anglers along the way. He loves the industry and is energized by the passion of the many professionals he works with, who also love what they do.
Meyer considers his positive attitude and hunger for knowledge to be the key factors in his personal and professional accomplishments. He approaches his conversations and professional engagements with an open mind to seek win-win solutions for all parties involved. After his faith in God, his top priority is balancing his career with his role as a husband and a father.
Ohio Recruitment, Retention, and Reactivation (R3) Coordinator, National Wild Turkey Federation
As Ohio’s R3 coordinator, Johanna Dart’s role is focused on increasing the relevancy of hunting, fishing, and the shooting sports with a broader audience. Dart did not come from a shooting sports or hunting family, and may not have become interested if not for the Michigan State University Glassen Scholars Program, which consists of a class in conservation and a full-time internship with a natural resource agency or organization. She was placed with the Boone & Crockett Club, researching non-traditional adults new to hunting, with the goal of designing a suitable outreach program.
Dart was hired to lead Michigan’s Learn to Hunt Program after her internship concluded. As she researched programs other states were offering for new adult hunters, she received an invitation from Kentucky to participate in a mentored crossbow deer hunt. Her mentor for that hunt sparked her passion for archery and for deer hunting, and she returned to Michigan using those experiences to develop her own programs. After three years, she moved to Ohio in her current role as the statewide R3 coordinator with the National Wild Turkey Federation.
“I am excited about the opportunities to reach and engage a wider audience in new and relevant ways,” Dart says. “The future of the industry should reflect the nation’s diversity in lifestyle, gender, background, and ethnicity.”
Vice President of Agency Relations, Kalkomey Enterprises, LLC
Mitch Strobl started his career as a college intern for the Professional Outdoor Media Association (POMA), while working on his degree in biological and environmental sciences from DePauw University. After graduating in 2012, the lifelong outdoorsman landed a position with Kalkomey Enterprises, a Texas-based company that partners with state fish and wildlife agencies to deliver outdoor safety courses (such as hunter and boater education) and related software applications (such as hunting and fishing license systems).
In his first role, Strobl focused on building out Kalkomey’s video production department, which helped modernize the online hunter and boater education content and courses. Since then, Strobl has been dedicated to raising the bar and setting new standards for online safety courses. Kalkomey recently launched the first fully interactive outdoor safety course, giving hunting and boating safety students a truly immersive “choose your own adventure” learning experience. He’s also forged partnerships with groups such as QDMA and NWTF to help launch continued education courses such as Deer Hunting 101, Turkey Hunting 101, and more. Strobl now works directly with state agency decision makers to better understand their needs so that Kalkomey can build products and services that support these agencies for years to come.
Meadow Jean Kouffeld
Wildlife Biologist and College Instructor, Itasca Community College
Alifelong outdoorswoman, Meadow Kouffeld has a master’s degree in wildlife ecology and is an instructor in the Natural Resources Program at Itasca Community College in Grand Rapids, Minnesota. Kouffeld has been engaged in teaching outdoor skills, wingshooting, and hunting for a number of years. While a biologist for the Ruffed Grouse Society, she developed the Women’s Intro to Wingshooting program, which was designed to introduce women to upland hunting. She remains active in recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) efforts, and holds a seat on the Minnesota State R3 Committee and Minnesota DNR Deer Council. Kouffeld is a firearm safety instructor, and despite a busy family and professional life, she still makes time to take new hunters grouse and woodcock hunting, volunteering as a guide and mentor.
Kouffeld trains, handles, and hunt-tests Deutsch-Drahthaars through the VDD/JGHV testing protocol, and recently added field-bred setters to the string. For her, dogs elevate the hunting experience and help connect people to the outdoors. She sees great promise and opportunity in the increased focus on R3 efforts at the state and federal levels, but thinks the biggest issues are the long-term cultural shifts that have removed the average person from the natural world.
Manager of Sporting Communications, National Wildlife Federation
As the manager of sporting communications for the National Wildlife Federation, Drew YoungeDyke connects hunters and anglers to the organization’s conservation mission, which includes hosting the National Wildlife Federation Outdoors Podcast. He holds a law degree from Michigan State University College of Law and studied political theory and constitutional democracy at Michigan State University’s James Madison College. YoungeDyke is also a freelance outdoor writer, penning a monthly column in Woods-n-Water News.
“I’m proud to work for the organization that helped lead the passage of the Pittman-Robertson Act,” says YoungeDyke. “We did it by building a broad coalition that extended from the firearm industry to gardening clubs. That collaborative model is how we achieve lasting bipartisan conservation.”
YoungeDyke started hunting squirrels on his family’s property in northern Michigan with a single-shot .410 until he was old enough to hunt deer with a Remington Model 700 .243. His dad taught him to still-hunt northern Michigan’s public-land forests, and his grandpa—a WWII veteran—instilled a respect for firearm proficiency, safety, and maintenance.
Above all, he believes in the ethical harvesting of game, whether it is deer, squirrels, or ruffed grouse. And, given his association with the National Wildlife Federation, he also believes America’s experience with wildlife has helped define and shape our national character and identity for generations. “Hunters win when we lead the way with wildlife conservation,” he says.
Software Engineer, Nielsen-Kellerman
Legaré Smith graduated from the University of Delaware’s College of Engineering in 2011 with a degree in computer science. During college, he interned for the Navy in Philadelphia, which hired him full-time after graduation to work on the machinery control systems for the DDG cruise missile destroyer-class ships.
Six years ago, Smith joined Nielsen-Kellerman (NK) as a firmware developer, and began work on the Kestrel 5000 series environmental-monitoring meters, notably delivering the first 5700 Sportsman Ballistics Weather Meter and 5700 Elite Weather Meter with Applied Ballistics models. From there, he has been an integral part in developing every ballistics product out of NK.
Earlier this year, NK and Smith partnered with Accuracy 1st to embed some of its long-range shooting tools into the Kestrel. While onsite in Texas, he was able to consistently hit steel at distances of over a mile. Working with industry expert teams and seeing their excitement for NK’s work is what Smith loves about the shooting community.
Similar to his experience at the Navy, Smith’s role with Kestrel Ballistics requires diligence: Someone’s life may be jeopardized should the code be implemented incorrectly. That sense of responsibility, coupled with the technicalities that go into long-range shooting, is what keeps him coming back for more.
Federal Relations Manager, Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation
Upon graduating college in 2016, Taylor Schmitz, a Maryland native, was fortunate to combine his interest in politics with his passion for hunting, fishing, and recreational shooting by landing a position with the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) in Washington, D.C. Despite a lifelong interest in hunting, Schmitz never had the opportunity to hunt until high school, when he was invited by a friend and his friend’s father, who served as his mentors. He soon recognized that he wanted to protect these outdoor traditions for future generations. This led him to CSF, where he strategizes every day to protect and advance our sporting heritage through the legislative process.
Schmitz is most passionate about increasing public-access opportunities for sportsmen and -women, as well as advancing critical conservation policies to ensure ample fish and wildlife populations and their associated habitats. Schmitz believes conservation and sportsmen’s issues are among the biggest common denominators in politics. As such, he strives for practical, bipartisan solutions to natural resource management that benefit sportsmen and -women across the country.
Freelance Knife Designer
Growing up in rural Idaho, TJ Schwarz learned to hunt and fish at a young age. Using various knives and other outdoor equipment, along with firearms, was an inspiration to him. When his talents in design and innovation started to surface, he began designing pocketknives that he believed were an improvement over existing technology. At the age of 18, he was recognized for developing a knife that could be taken apart without tools. He says the innovation was inspired by taking apart his 1911 and realizing that a complex tool can be created without the use of screws. He wondered why this hadn’t been done to a knife. Several large knife companies took notice, and from there, Schwarz says, his career took off. Now 26 years old and licensing designs to companies to be distributed worldwide, he feels like he is living his dream.
With a handful of knife industry awards and first-of-their-kind designs, Schwarz has proven himself a leader in the world of knife design. He attributes his success to the people who gave him opportunities to prove himself at such a young age. In particular, Ken Onion and the team at Columbia River Knife and Tool have been great mentors and teachers. He also believes many of his opportunities and successes come from meeting and interacting with industry professionals at SHOT Show. He looks forward to the show every year and is thankful to be a part of such an honest, blue-collar industry.
Manager, Sporting Systems
Luke Scott got his start in the shooting sports industry through a part-time job at a shop while going to school. This led to him working for Sporting Systems in Vancouver, Washington, which he calls the “coolest gun shop in the Northwest.” Now, at 26, he is a manager there and does a little bit of everything, from helping clients choose the right firearm, guiding people through the complicated world of the NFA, andperforming service work.
Having always had an interest in firearms, Scott’s work in this industry has provided him with opportunities to do things he never thought he would get to do. Daniel and Heidi Mitchell, the owners of Sporting Systems, have played a key role in his professional journey. Their hard work and commitment to our Second Amendment rights have been an inspiration to him.
“One of the most enjoyable things to see is people who have never been around firearms, or who previously have been against the idea of gun ownership, decide to give it a try. We get to help them, as it becomes a passion for them,” says Scott. “It is more important than ever right now to educate as many people as we can to prevent the further deterioration of our Second Amendment.”
Samantha J. Pedder
Director of Operations, Council to Advance Hunting and the Shooting Sports
In her work with the Council to Advance Hunting and the Shooting Sports, Samantha Pedder is a national leader in the movement to recruit, retain, and reactivate (R3) hunters and target shooters in America. Her work focuses on expanding the way the industry engages Americans in all forms of outdoor recreation.
Previously, Pedder served as the manager of outreach and diversity for NSSF and the hunting outreach specialist for the Pennsylvania Game Commission. She holds a bachelor of science degree from Penn State University, a master’s of natural resources from Utah State University, and just recently finished a master’s of business administration from Georgia Southern University. She is a passionate hunter and outdoorswoman, and is inspired by both the people who make up the hunting base and the employees in the industry who serves them.
“At the end of my career, I want to look back and see the progress we’ve made. I hope to see an industry with a diverse workforce that is connected and unified in this achievable goal of increased participation, and that also serves and connects with their customers more effectively,” she says. “If in 25 years, this is the state of our industry, I’ll know we were successful.”
Handgun Product Development Engineer, Federal Premium Ammunition; U.S. Practical Shooting Association Grand Master
While growing up, Casey Reed mainly shot rifles and shotguns when hunting various species of animals. Now, he is one of the top handgun shooters competing at U.S. Practical Shooting Association/International Practical Shooting Confederation events. Reed wasn’t exposed to handguns until he was 19 years old, after he landed a mechanical engineering internship with Federal Ammunition in 2011. He quickly learned how to shoot a handgun because his main task incorporated a lot of handgun ammunition testing.
Shortly after he started his internship, one of the engineers he worked with took him to watch his first USPSA match. He became extremely interested and shot his first match just a few weeks later—and was instantly hooked. Reed began training every day, watching all the best shooters on YouTube and shooting every local match he could get to.
Almost 10 years later, Reed is still obsessed with the game. He trains regularly, with the goal of being the best shooter in the world. He is well on his way; he represented Team USA at the 2017 World Shoot and won the USPSA Limited 10 National Champion in 2018, taking the runner-up title in 2019.
“I am constantly learning and will always consider myself a student of the game,” Reed says. “I also enjoy helping new shooters get involved in the sport, as well as coaching shooters who want to get better.”
When not shooting, Reed is a mechanical engineer at Federal Premium Ammunition, designing and developing new handgun ammunition.
Founder, AC Outdoors
Identifying one’s passion in life is hard enough, let alone successfully working within your passion. Abby Casey was lucky enough to find a strong connection to the outdoors and shooting sports at a very young age, shooting small-bore and 10mm air rifle competitively in high school and at the collegiate level. After graduating from college, she took an internship at Realtree and worked as a videographer, YouTube manager, and editor. Casey eventually transitioned into a full-time position, where she created the fast-paced YouTube series called “Realtree Life.” As she built visibility, she was given the opportunity to host and help build the outdoor brand of a new media company called Rated Red, targeting social media and YouTube-based content toward Heartland Millennials. During her two years at Rated Red, she hosted more than 600 videos and produced over 30 pieces in the field. It was on an elk-hunting trip out West that Casey decided to become a full-time advocate for the outdoor lifestyle, leading her to launch her own brand, AC Outdoors. She is also the brand ambassador for several companies, and last year became a lifestyle content creator for Browning.
Casey uses her platform to inspire other women to get outdoors and communicate the value of conservation and adventure. She says, “I have been so fortunate to experience all I have in my life and my career, and I want to be able to give back and convey to young people the importance of the outdoors and an active lifestyle.”
Digital Fundraising Specialist, Ducks Unlimited
Though she cannot pinpoint the exact moment she decided to pursue a career in the outdoor industry, Pepper Self can easily recount each of her many heart-pounding, body-trembling moments in the outdoors that led her to discover her passion. She has sensed her blood pulsing as she approached a beautiful 6-point buck, her first with a rifle, and she has heard ducks circling above flooded timber before daybreak. She now defines herself by these experiences, and they led her to understand that she would never consider working for an industry that kept her from her passions. Many have helped her along the way, but Self considers her father her biggest mentor.
While pursuing her undergraduate and graduate studies, Self interned with organizations like Backcountry Hunters & Anglers and the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries & Parks. She is now responsible for growing Ducks Unlimited’s online audience and revenue through the development and implementation of digital fundraising strategies.
With females making up the fastest-growing demographic of hunters, Self sees the opportunity to introduce more women to the sport and teach them about the positive impacts that hunters have on habitat, wildlife, and the economy.
Facility Supervisor, Bristlecone Shooting, Training & Retail Center
After working with another range and retailer in the Denver area, Trevor Robinson joined Bristlecone Shooting, Training & Retail Center as a retail associate when the Lakewood, Colorado, facility opened in 2015. He quickly became a valued member of the team because of his vast product knowledge, and his technology and social media skills gave him the ability to connect with the younger generation of customers. Robinson soon moved into a buyer role and was instrumental in developing the business’ retail product mix in the early stages of the operation before leaving Bristlecone to pursue an opportunity at a start-up custom shop owned by a friend. However, he returned two years later in a new role as a facility leader, overseeing both range and retail, and was recently promoted to a management role as facility supervisor.
Robinson started shooting at an early age, and has been shooting consistently for the past 15 years. He is a certified firearm instructor and participates in the development of Bristlecone’s training department. With a passion for the technical aspect of firearms, he can explain to clients why things work the way they do. As Jacquelyn Clark, co-owner of Bristlecone, notes, “Trevor exemplifies what it means to be a young professional in this industry.”
Vice President, Security Centers, Inc., and Co-Founder of Dakota Safes
John Jones is a sharp up-and-comer in the retail world of guns, but his particular focus is on gun safes. He has been a part of the safe industry from the time he could walk, following on the heels of his mentor and father, Scott. Jones attended Oklahoma State University with an emphasis in applied science and marketing studies, and went to work in the family’s Security Centers retail business after graduation. The Jones family has two retail locations—one primarily dedicated to guns and related support items, the other location dedicated more to the safe line.
Now in his mid-20s, Jones has helped lead the business into new and much stronger market leadership roles. He has a passion for the safe industry and has attended several training programs and manufacturer facilities. He also has a vast knowledge of many brands, their builds, and the manufacturing process. With this knowledge, Jones played a key role in developing a new line of safes (Dakota), leading him to connect with other quality dealers around the country to sell the line.
His marketing skills and industry knowledge have been important for the growth of the Oklahoma-based company, and he is a key player on the retail and wholesale side. Active in creative social media postings, Jones has connected with and helped grow a younger market base. He is developing industry-wide relationships and bringing fresh ideas to the table that will benefit both customers and dealers nationwide.
Maria K. Espinosa
Sales Operations Supervisor, Ruag Ammotec
When she was six years old, Maria Espinosa went with her father to Lou’s Gun Shop in Hialeah, Florida. It was her first time in a gun shop, and she had no idea that, 20 years later, she would be calling on that shop as one of her customers.
She began her journey in the industry due to a chance opportunity in the customer service department of Taurus Firearms. From the moment she started, she threw herself headlong into learning all about the industry. She was with Taurus for 10 years, and then began another opportunity with Dunkin Lewis. Now, as sales operations supervisor at RUAG Ammotec, best known for its premium Norma ammunition, Espinosa manages reporting and shares sales and marketing trends with all teams within the Norma organization. The company has built a reputation worldwide for its dedication to quality, precision, and reliability.
Even though the industry seems large, Espinosa sees it as quite small, with partners becoming almost like relatives, always ready to lend a helping hand. “This is what many people do not see, and what makes people want to build a future within this melting pot of an industry,” says Espinosa. She also says the one word that comes to mind when she thinks of the industry is “opportunity.” “There are so many new, innovative companies starting out, it is exciting to see what they all bring to the table. New ideas, new people, and new products will take us into the future.”
Director of Outdoor Marketing and Partner, Gray Loon Marketing Group
Brita Turbyfill is a lifelong hunter, shooter, and angler. She grew up on a farm in rural Illinois, with parents who instilled in her both a love of the outdoors and an entrepreneurial drive. She received her undergraduate degree in business marketing from Eastern Illinois University and her master’s degree in business administration from the University of Southern Indiana. But the outdoors was her calling, and it was this passion that led Turbyfill to begin her digital marketing career at Gray Loon Marketing Group as her first job out of college.
Now, almost 15 years later, Turbyfill is an agency partner and oversees all of Gray Loon’s outdoor and shooting industry clients, which include brands like Realtree, Hoyt, Benelli USA, Burris Optics, Steiner Optics, Duck Commander, Springfield Armory, and more. Today, Gray Loon is a 30-person marketing firm that prides itself on being “creative problem-solvers” for clients in multiple industries. Turbyfill’s responsibilities at the agency include leading digital marketing strategy, new business development, account management, and project oversight for the outdoor and shooting industry.
Turbyfill’s enthusiasm for the outdoors is deeply authentic, and her weekends are typically spent with her husband, Michael, hunting spring turkeys or sitting in a treestand during the rut. This authenticity is reflected in the outdoors team she’s helped build at Gray Loon, an agency that’s tripled in size over the course of her career.
Operations Director, Shoot Smart
Jared Sloane joined the industry on a whim when he helped his parents open their award-winning, three-store chain of Shoot Smart ranges in the Dallas-Fort Worth area in 2010. Sloane is not a traditional shooter and didn’t hunt or sport shoot until he came into the business. However, he has learned why the industry remains relevant and holds importance to our heritage and culture. With a background in politics and firefighting, he believes those skills have come in handy over the years as their business has navigated various national political cycles and crises, most recently the coronavirus pandemic.
As a founding member of Shoot Smart, Sloane has served in almost every role in the company and done nearly every job, from answering phones, fixing guns, and cleaning bathrooms to developing compliance programs, producing animated videos, and coaching the range’s leadership team. As operations director, he is now responsible for managing Shoot Smart’s three locations, as well as inventory operations and marketing. Sloane has been specifically focused on marketing efforts to attract the next generation of shooters, and has spoken on the topic on behalf of NSSF for several years. He has been a member of the NSSF Range Advisory Council since 2015, and has also been a member of the NSSF Range Expo Committee.