What’s it like being a Professional Marksman?

Chris Cheng shooting the H&K MP7A1 sub-machine gun. A delicious BBQ lunch followed.
Professional Marksman Chris Cheng shooting the H&K MP7A1 sub-machine gun. A delicious BBQ lunch followed.
Top Shot, Chris Cheng
Top Shot, Chris Cheng

USA –-(Ammoland.com)- I get this question a lot and so I thought it might be interesting to dive into this topic and share what my experience has been, along with what I’ve seen from my peers.

In short, it’s awesome.

My arrangement with Bass Pro Shops is very flexible, and they cover most of my equipment, match fees, and travel costs for 3-gun competitions and appearances.

There’s also minimal pressure from Bass Pro for me to win additional competitions, so the only pressure is the pressure I put on myself. I have always wanted to excel in whatever I throw myself into, and shooting is no different. Finally, my contract doesn’t really have an expiration date, and I can pick and choose what I want to do.

In contrast, some of my other sponsored marksmen peers are locked into a particular schedule. They have XX number of matches to shoot in each year. They have a training schedule. If they don’t win or at least perform at a super high level, their sponsor might drop them.

In addition to shooting matches, I’ve done special events such as Bass Pro Shops store appearances across the country where I’ve done exhibition shooting with a compound bow and signed autographs and taken pictures with Top Shot fans.

Chris Cheng Action Shots
Chris Cheng Action Shots

Conventions such as SHOT Show and the NRA Annual Meetings have been a lot of fun where I have made many industry connections and built out my rolodex. I am fortunate to be on staff for The Firearm Blog where I get to share many of my experiences and also see the media side of the industry.

Then there are the random fun things that have come about. I was invited to a private shooting event for industry folks in Tennessee, where we just shot a bunch of cool guns for a day and socialized.

I have been blessed with the opportunity to write a book on beginning marksmanship, and I’m looking forward to sharing my knowledge with new shooters. The book, tentatively titled “Shoot to Win,” will be released in Spring 2014. There will be some exciting components to the book which I’ll talk about later this year.

I am often asked how frequently I shoot, and it really depends. In the past year, I had a two month stretch (Thanksgiving/Christmas) where I didn’t fire a single round. However, I’m often dry firing or doing some sort of maintenance/upgrade/research on a gun related item. Writing my book and blogging are other items which consume my time when I’m not shooting. I got really interested in trap shooting for about two months earlier this year, and I was at the range almost three times a week on average shooting about 500 rounds a week.

The part I’ve enjoyed most is the people I’ve met along this journey. Before winning Top Shot, I didn’t know many other shooters, but now that I’ve traveled the country and met all sorts of gun aficionados I can say that the shooting community is a really warm and welcoming one. People are helpful, kind, generous, and courteous- qualities that define gun culture and often betray some negative stereotypes about gun owners.

Chris with the shooting industry's First Family: The Miculek's (from left to right- Kay, Lena, and Jerry)
Chris with the shooting industry’s First Family: The Miculek’s (from left to right- Kay, Lena, and Jerry)

Lastly, I can’t imagine any other country in the world where being a professional marksman could be considered a career. America is indeed a land of many opportunities, and we all have the capability of creating and earning our success. Winning Top Shot Season 4 was the opportunity of a lifetime for me, and I’ve had a blast parlaying that experience into the next big thing. Thanks to readers like you, I’m living the American Dream!


About Chris Cheng:
After winning History Channel’s Top Shot competition, Chris Cheng left a cushy job at Google to go have some fun as a professional marksman for Bass Pro Shops. Chris shoots in USPSA, IDPA, and 3-gun competitions across the country, and visit Bass Pro stores for appearances and weapons demos. He is a Staff Writer at The Firearm Blog and now on his own blog, ‘Top Shot Chris’, where I share my experiences in this new career path.www.topshotchris.com