By Oscar Castillo
Shooting and firearm practice has become a hobby for many, and a growing community in Laredo has stepped up in the growing competitive scene. Sponsored by TGS Tactical, Johnny Gregory and Rick Rios proudly represented both the company and Laredo in world level competition. “We shoot competitively in different disciplines,” states Gregory. “I’ve been shooting since 2002 and started really competing in 2006. I used to race motorcycles and now I race guns. I just changed hobbies. And it’s what I enjoy doing.” The duo share how they were immersed in this scene.
“Back in the mid 90’s, I saw an ad on the paper for a 4H shooting club for juniors. I was interested in shooting so I went and tried that out and from there, I started doing it competitively,” adds Rios. “Then by ’98 I was already shooting high power long range competition. In 1999 I was selected as one of the juniors for the Texas State Rifle Association team to go shoot at the Camp Perry Ohio nationals.” Versed in various disciplines of shooting including pistol, rifle, shotgun, and more, this pair of gunslingers has the experience to go head-to-head at local, national, state, and even world level competition.
However, reaching this level of experience is not easy. The two state that they practice at least 8 hours a week, almost 12 to 14 hours whenever a competition is on the horizon. “The fun pasrt is going out to the matches and meeting new shooters and passing that experience onto other and bringing newcomers into the sport,” adds Gregory. “It’s always growing and we could always use new talent. Here in Laredo, we have the Laredo Rifle and Pistol Club which holds club matches that are open to members and non members.”
The two encourage the community to try shooting, even if they are unsure at first. “We always travel with extra gear that we can lend out and help em out with.” states Rios. “The number one thing is safety. We always ensure safety when shooting. We also start with the basics.” They add that newcomers are welcome to come and observe and perhaps shoot with them if interested. “A lot of times new shooters are intimidated, but the hardest step is just jumping in there and just trying something new,” says Gregory.
The shooting community of Laredo is constantly growing, and TGS is a great way to also begin this new hobby for those interested. “TGS and Jared have been a huge help. I could not have gotten this far without their help,” adds Rios. “It is a costly thing and TGS supports not just the shooting team but the community.” This marks only the beginning for the duo and they share their plans to continue competing at state, national and even world levels and aim for a high spot within contenders. The two share videos of their training and competition on both their Youtube channels and Facebook pages, as well as their Instagram. If your aim is to fire like the big-shots, be sure and look them up and get started soon.