An Interview With Aaron Davidson, Founder and CEO of Gunwerks LLC

Over the course of firearms history, precision long range shooting has held an unquestionable aura and mystique. The vaunted Sharps rifle maintains its legendary status due in large part to its accuracy and efficacy at ranges previously unheard of for the times. In recent decades the interest in magnum and even more recently short magnum cartridges has steadily grown to the point where these rounds have become the norm in many hunting camps as opposed to the exception – irrespective of the owner’s ability to actually tap into all that extra downrange capability.

But when it comes to hunting effectively from long range, the industry has by and large maintained a fairly conservative stance except within small circles of highly practiced and skilled shooters. And then just ten years ago, a small Wyoming upstart decided it was ready and willing to challenge the status quo. This truly innovative company started building long range shooting equipment that made effective and ethical shots on game well beyond the hallowed five hundred yard mark accessible to any hunter that was willing to put the time, energy – and money – into becoming an educated and therefore effective long range hunter.

Gunwerks quite simply led, and continues to lead, the industry on all fronts as it relates to long range shooting and hunting. From firearm and bullet design to optical solutions and ballistics validation there is no piece of the long range puzzle that Gunwerks has not touched. Whatever your opinion may be on the ethics of long range hunting, there is no debate that Gunwerks is the trail-blazer in this highly specialized and contentious niche within our industry.

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I’m sure there are a lot of people in our audience, who know of Gunwerks and what Gunwerks is all about, but they may not have an in-depth picture of the history of Gunwerks.

Aaron, the floor is yours. Give us the history of the company.

I always like to say I got tired of digging ditches so I decided to start a gun company, which is kind of true. I graduated with an engineering degree and, when it was time to start getting a job, I realized that I wasn’t cut out to work for other people. I’d never really had to. I paid my way through college running a little construction business and, the way that it worked out, I continued that business and made it grow for a few years after college. At that point I realized that although this was good and it was successful and I could make a living and achieve that state of not having to work for anybody else, it wasn’t what I had a passion for.

I went to college to become an engineer that worked for one of the car companies. I was a motorhead. That was my thing. When I came out of college—raising a family and paying my way through college—I had pared down the hot rod collection and found that I could buy a lot of guns for what one hot rod was worth. So, I really got into guns in college as well as ballistics and how all that stuff worked, and that’s kind of where my passion developed.

Combine that with my brother Mike’s passion for hunting and we mixed together really well. So we had this little direction that we liked to go for recreation, for fun, for learning, for adventure. So we started Gunwerks, and we started an optics brand at the same time, which was Huskemaw Optics. I did a little patent and I did a development for a ballistic turret that had wind on it and a couple of other things. That was a step in the direction of fulfilling that requirement for adventurous living. At the time, when you start a company like that and it overlaps with your passion, you think that you’re going to have a lot of fun. What you don’t realize is when it turns into a ‘real’ business, it turns into real work. We’ve tried to keep a balance of that fun and work.

The company started in 2006 and coming up very shortly will be our 10 year anniversary. So really, we came in before long range was even popular.

Absolutely.

Guys were doing it, but nobody was pushing it, let’s call it mainstream—nobody was willing to stick their neck out and put a brand out there and say, “Hey, this is what we’re doing and if you don’t like it, tough! This is the way the industry is going.” I felt like we led the industry in adopting the ballistic turret. You look at every major manufacturer now and they’re making them. With the rifle systems, we used to call our rifle the Long Range Hunter and that’s a very common model name for a rifle. We’ve trademarked the LR1000 and that’s kind of our standard rifle system now. With our ideas—we’ve really pushed a lot of people to change the way they do business. If you look at any rifle manufacturer, if they’re not making a long-range gun, then they’re not playing where the industry is going.

One of the challenges in this start-up, this ten year development of Gunwerks, is that when we started we didn’t have competition. We were out there on our own, sticking it out there and making a product that nobody really competed with. But, if you look at the marketplace right now, it’s different. As time has gone by we’ve had to evolve and change our business strategy, change our objectives, change where we develop and grow. You can see that in where we are right now. It’s a lot different than one of these garage shop, rifle assembling companies.

Right. On that note exactly, I think it’s a key point we should dive in on. It’s now 10 years down the road and there are a lot of options out there for the hunter or the shooter looking to get themselves set up with a long range system. I think it’s important that we use that term ‘system’ because it really boils down to a package and a system when it comes to being able to shoot past, let’s say, five or six hundred yards.

An important thing I’d like you to clarify is: what are—and it doesn’t have to be the difference—but what are some of the differences between Gunwerks and Gunwerks’ products and some of the other players that are out there that have since come up, be it the “garage shop” products or some of the bigger names?

I think if I could say in as simple terms as possible, the thing that separates us from almost every one of our competitors is the fact that we’re “bringing it.” We’re developing new products and we’re bringing new things to the marketplace. If you look at almost every one of my competitors that I can point you to, they’re not. They are regurgitating or assembling the same thing that everybody else is doing.

We went through that phase and these guys will probably go through that phase. They’ll end it and then start doing their own thing and bring some new products, or, they’ll go out of business—one of the two. The main difference is our ability and our nature of developing and bringing new products to the market. That’s the difference.

Right.

A guy has got to be really careful because our systems cost a lot of money. Technically, our customers are paying for that research and development and they’re paying for the new stuff, the cutting edge. Some customers don’t want to do that, can’t afford that, or choose to spend their money on the sheep hunt, rather than the rifle and we’re 100% behind those decisions. I think another aspect that really defines our company is how much money, time, effort, blood, sweat and tears, everything that we’ve invested into creating a channel or educational platform for people to learn about how to set up and shoot long range.

Absolutely.

For instance, go pick any of our competitors and look at their YouTube channel and then look at ours. Making those videos is not cheap, it’s expensive. There are a lot of costs associated with it, but our thinking is that if we provide the education that people need, they can be discriminating buyers and know how to set up and do the things on their own. If we don’t get a customer as, let’s say, a rifle customer, we’ll get him as a customer on another front, perhaps a scope or range finding product. That customer will still become ours because he has trust in us and the message that we put out.

The educational aspect of our company putting on a TV show, our YouTube channel, the magazine that we publish—all that is about disseminating information and showing people how to use products and gear to shoot precision and generally long range.

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I want to circle back on the educational aspects of the course, but before we do the question I want to ask is about your emphasis, and your team’s emphasis, on reverse engineering things. You will literally go back to the drawing board on everything, is that correct?

Yeah, it is. As an example, we would buy an action from somebody that makes actions, buy a stock from somebody that makes stocks, buy a barrel from somebody that makes barrels and really quickly we found that there was low hanging fruit in changing the design of the rifle stock. So, I stepped back from, “This looks pretty and this feels good when you hold it in your hand and when you throw it up to your shoulder,” and said, “There’s more to stock and rifle performance that just those aspects.” So, what are the things that define how that rifle works, and what can we do in the design of a stock to make the rifle work better?

That’s where we started. We brought out a stock and that stock has been awesome. Everybody loves it. It shoots very good. Felt recoil is great. It’s a great balance point, but it’s not the end-all be-all of rifle stocks. But for the application of a kind of universal precision shooting stock, it’s great. It’s got some classic American lines, so it’s got a little industrial design, so to speak, but then it also has some serious functional design. Then, you take that concept of, “Okay we can make this better, or what makes it work, so that we can make it better,” and then you start applying to all the things that go into a rifle and you start finding all these areas where everybody, for years and years and years, just copies what’s out there and regurgitates it. I think after using some of these off-the-shelf products for a long time, you find that it just doesn’t work and it’s time to redo it. The perfect example of this is you have the traditional custom action marketplace. You’ve got all these great guys who make awesome rifle actions and they’re putting out these actions that essentially are Remington clones. They have twin locking lugs, Remington-style firing mechanisms, etc. It’s a smart way to bring an action to market because they have so many accessories that they have access to and there is a bigger market for that product.

The problem is they’re saying, “We need to make this tougher and beefier and better and the Remington extractor, according to gun writers, isn’t any good and so we need to change that. We need to put an M16-style extractor or a Sako-style extractor in, so that it’s got better ability to pull that case out of that action.” What we found over the years was those two extractors were designed and developed for different guns and to try and retrofit and adopt those into a bolt, specifically a twin locking lug Remington-style bolt, doesn’t give you the ability to eject that shell cleanly out of that action. So if you think about it, what’s an action supposed to do? It’s not supposed to look sexy, the action is supposed to feed a shell and eject a shell.

Right.

You want to be able to hang your stock on it. You want to be able to hang your barrel on it and your scope on it. Those are pretty simple things. Feeding and ejection is the part where a lot of those get let down and, specifically, I’m talking about the ejection part. Now it needs to throw that shell up and with a nice big, long-range scope on it, it’s going to throw it up and it’s going to hit the scope. Every one of those guns that has one of those types of extractors is going to have a problem with the ejection cycle. Everybody tries to move their plunger ejectors and do things so that they kick out better but the bottom line is: it’s in the wrong spot.

If you go back to the original Remington, it’s right in the lug, it’s right in the face. If you look at some of the great action companies out there, they still use a Remington-style extractor. Understanding what the product is supposed to do, and then, making your design work according to that requirement, is the fundamental requirement of engineering new products. If you go about it in the realm of “Everybody else does it this way, let’s do it the same way,” that’s a slippery slope and it leads you to design choices that end up in a product that is second tier.

Mediocrity. Plain and simple.

It makes you wonder if those guys really understand what they’re doing.

Right, of course. That’s something that was one of the great learning pieces that I took away from the Level 1 Course, my ability to make better and more informed decisions about any firearm or optics purchase and not just a long range system. I walked away from that first day blown away with what I didn’t know.

The same thing applies to information as applies to products. Like the telephone. You’re just regurgitating what somebody else has said. That’s the typical gun writer mentality.

We’re going to come back to some of the Level 1 material, but one of the things I think is really important for us to cover is the ethics of course. I think there are a lot of hunters that look at the realm of long range with some trepidation around both the consumer side of it — as in what do I purchase and who can I trust to guide me down this path — but more importantly, the ethical standpoint of how do I reconcile the “need” in the field with my training and background from a shooting perspective.

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What became obvious during the course is my concept of ethics was really and truly, arbitrary. Whenever one’s father, uncle, grandfather, or whoever said, “anything past 400 or 500 yards, is just silly or too far” wasn’t necessarily speaking from a trained or informed perspective. It blew my mind that yesterday (at the course) within two shots I was hitting the bullseye at 600 yards.

A little paradigm shift huh?

Just a little bit of a paradigm shift! And 840 was nothing to sneeze at. There are elements to that and I want to get into that side of it, but I really want you to speak to the ethical question. I want you to give our audience the official Gunwerks stance. I think a really important thing I should add here is that your perspective and let’s be honest bias is an informed perspective and bias, not an uninformed one. I think a lot of biases and opinions are just that – uninformed – and not based on fact or experience or science. So, I kick it back to you Aaron.

This is a very interesting subject to debate. I actually love debating this in a very highbrow setting with guys who have intelligence and who have put a lot of thought into this rather than people who just want to argue. I do love that debate and it is very challenging to persuade somebody who is set in the way they think. What I found is the most important thing we can do as a group, as hunters, is settle on a concept of ethics that is common ground. I think the place that we can do that is the fact that all of us want to have a clean kill on an animal.

Of course.

And more specifically, a one-shot clean kill.

Right.

So, I would start out and say our goal as a company is to outfit people with the education and the gear required to be successful with that endeavour— that one-shot clean kill.

Right.

If we put it in that context, I think every hunter, every sportsman, would have a hard time arguing with that end goal.

Of course.

Now the question becomes distance. How far is that? The bottom line is that distance is dictated by your capabilities as a shooter and the capabilities of your equipment and gear. Your limitations in how far that ethical distance is, is all related to you and your equipment.

Right.

And in some respects, the conditions of the shot.

Sure.

That’s a very logical, very straightforward way to look at the proposition, period.

Right.

On the flipside, there are different kinds of people who go up into the mountains. You’ve got the guy who goes up there who wants to get away from his wife for four or five days, that just needs to get away from what’s going on and, if he kills something or doesn’t, it isn’t such a big deal. It’s the experience that means a lot to him. On the other end of the spectrum, there are guys out there who are—I don’t want to say trophy hunters, but let’s just say they’re killers. They’re going up on the mountain, whether it’s put to meat in the freezer or to put a set of horns on the wall, they’re going up there to be successful and defining that success by harvesting that animal, filling that tag. If you look at that kind of a person and you think about what kind of equipment he needs to be successful, he needs something that will deliver that one-shot clean kill and it doesn’t matter if it’s at a hundred yards or 200 or 500 or 700, if he’s got that gear, then he will be able to achieve success.

So, a big part of our company and our products is delivering that success to our customers, whether it’s in education only or, whether it’s in rifle systems, ranger finders or whatever. So, flip back to that ethics question and the bottom line is: don’t shoot farther than you have a high probability of hitting. There are lot of guys who probably shouldn’t even be shooting guns because they don’t have the capability of hitting and killing an animal even at distances of a hundred yards.

Right.

You see a guy who’s willing to take a 150 yard shot standing offhand, to me that is completely unethical. Completely! It’s not based on the distance, but it’s based on his probability of that one-shot clean kill. Whereas, I can sit one of my boys down, who is on his 14th or 15th year, and I can put him behind a gun on an animal at 700+ yards in the right conditions and he will make that one-shot clean kill.

Right.

So here’s my bias: I don’t see a problem with the ethics of that situation.

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Right, and I think the important point there in this discussion or debate is that it is a relative discussion. We can’t arbitrarily set a distance because it boils down to the equipment and the shooter. In many ways, it boils down to the motivation and the willingness to put one’s self in a training situation to explore this topic experientially and build an informed opinion. It’s a topic, like you said, where we can all agree that the one-shot clean kill is what we all aspire to, but then we have to apply that ability or capability to the individual hunter or shooter. That’s something that I think is often missed in the discussion. One of the things my eyes were opened to during the Level 1 Course was how manageable those variables are when you are properly educated on not just the conditions, but the equipment and, of course, the techniques on both the bench and in the field that allow you to achieve those ethical one-shot kills at distances many might say are unethical.

Sure. I think you’re spot on.

Right. Which segues very nicely into the Level 1 Course. I think a key takeaway from today’s interview, Aaron, should boil down to the fact that the Level 1 Course was as eye-opening an experience as I’ve had in years. So firstly, kudos to you and your team for putting together such a fantastic course and the instructor for being such a good instructor. One of the things I was so amazed at was just how uninformed I was. I considered myself a very informed consumer when it came to what constitutes the right equipment and what constitutes good shooting technique on the bench but my eyes were truly opened during the course. Why don’t you give people a very rough, high level review of the Level 1 Course and what’s covered and let them know what they would be getting from the Course, even if they’re not planning on purchasing a Gunwerks system?

The way we’ve got our Courses structured right now is Levels 1, 2 and 3, but that doesn’t mean beginning, intermediate and advanced. I made a mistake in naming the Courses that way. Nobody wants to go to a beginners’ course. I think you would agree that the content that we gave you in the last two days is not beginners’ course content.

No, and I think I should touch on that right away. I’ve been shooting for 20 some years now and I had no idea that I did not know as much as I thought I did.

I think if I have to toot my own horn for something, it’s probably in my ability to dial out the BS. It really is finding the simple filtered content that really matters.

In our Level 1 Course what we tried to do was get a compartment of data that would get you to a certain level of understanding. In this case, what we want you to do is to come out of that course able to make discriminating decisions about your equipment selection and purchase. This course is not about buying Gunwerks products. Obviously, we’re glad to sell you our products, but I have been very careful with my instructors to make sure they understand this is to help you as a consumer, not to help Gunwerks as a manufacturer.

That was loud and clear in the course. Absolutely.

Good, very good. You need to have a complete understanding of why you would buy an action that has these features, what features you’re looking for in a rifle stock, why you would want a rifle of a certain weight versus another, what other features you’re looking for in rifle scopes—MOA, MRAD, turret styles, adjustments etc.—so we give you a really fast, but broad, picture of all the different elements of a shooting system and how to make choices that are discriminating in that selection. That’s one of the main goals.

Then, the second goal we have was, once you’ve acquired that equipment, how do you set it up? How do you determine what your external ballistics are and then shoot and prove them? I think a lot of guys don’t understand that just because the box says ‘X’ that doesn’t necessarily mean that’s what will happen in the field. For example, a manufacturer released a long range hunting bullet within recent history and the ballistic coefficients that they quote are so far off reality that, if you use those numbers, you will be missing shots that you should be able to make.

Right.

You need to take that ability to calculate your ballistics and then true those ballistics, what we call validate the trajectories, by shooting to get your real solution.

One component of the course is equipment selection. Another significant component of the course is external ballistics. We’ll teach you how to run a ballistics program and we’ll teach you how to shoot and collect your data, so that you can validate your trajectory. Those are two very, very important parts. In fact, I’d say trajectory validation is the building block or fundamental component of long range precision shooting.

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Absolutely. That was something I certainly didn’t have an appreciation for. I thought, incorrectly like many of my peers that it boiled down into equipment and then practice.

That’s the next part. You’ve got the equipment and you’ve got the ability to run the ballistic calculator, the last part is how to shoot consistently enough that you can be sure that those measured values are what you’re getting in the field, that they’re in fact real.

Right.

You’ve got equipment selection, external ballistics and now you’ve got bench shooting techniques. That’s one area where there are so many people who buy the wrong equipment and you’ll never achieve success if you start off on the wrong foot. The thing is you don’t have to spend a lot of money. A simple Caldwell Rock front rest is more than fine. Throw away their bags and put a nice set of nylon bags or, if you need the durability, leather bags. A good, old, worn out, hard slick set of leather bags will work, but nylon is actually better. You take that set up and you might only have a hundred bucks in it. The same guy might buy a Caldwell lead sled and he just wasted a hundred dollars to start with. Then, all the time he’s going to spend shooting is going to be wasted and potentially damaging his firearms. You have to be careful with the understanding of how the system works and that’s what we teach you. We go through the whole force moment diagram on a rifle and a stock and teach you about barrel harmonics and what’s going on there. Then you understand why we tell you two points of support and why we tell you free recoil. Then we go through and show you some techniques on the bench and, again, we keep it simple. All you want is a free recoiling system. You want good bag pressure, good cheek pressure and you want to adjust your parallax. If you do those things and follow through with your shot, you will shoot well. We’ve got videos that show you that, we’ve got the instruction in the course that shows you that, and it’s really simple things. Once you get to the point where you understand why, then it’s easier to remember and it’s easier to adopt the gear and the techniques.

Absolutely. And I’ll add, the cost of the course pales in comparison to the value in these pearls of wisdom you learn when it comes to being able to shoot at whatever distance you want to shoot at. At this point I have no designs to shoot out past 500 yards because I don’t have the equipment to do so, but I’m going to walk away from this course with such a better understanding of what goes into the equipment I need, both in the firearm itself and in the componentry and the accessories that allow me to go and shoot consistently. I know that I’m going to walk into the field this Fall, or whenever it might be, and shoot well.

Even if you’re punching paper at a hundred yards, everything that you get out of that bench shooting technique applies.

Absolutely. This is something we’ve talked about in the Mountain Fitness column. “Fitness” in all its forms boils down to repetitions, more specifically good repetitions. The nervous system remembers movements, remembers habits and those habits are amplified at 2/3/4/500+ yards. So, now we start talking about 600+ yards and those bad habits can be exposed beyond belief.

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Let’s talk about cant (being off level) for a minute. Our instructor showed us an example of how cant affects accuracy at what most would consider a long-range distance. It was astounding. This instructor, who took the shot with a slight cant to his rifle, was somebody who could shoot and the amplitude of the miss was unbelievable, truly unbelievable.

I’m like one of these politicians trying to get elected. There are two places that I’ve seen my opinions change over the years. One of them is in muzzle brakes. I kind of push them on guys now. I don’t like ‘em, but what they do for your ability to shoot is significant enough that, with precautions, I think they’re important to have. Anytime we sell a guy a muzzle brake we also sell a thread cap that replaces it so he’s got that option.

Muzzle brakes are one and the other one is that level for your scope so you can catch yourself canting the rifle to one side or the other. I’ve taught hundreds of guys—and there’s usually about one out of every seven guys who would lean his rifle over so much that I can’t even imagine how he could hit the target. He couldn’t see things straight and level. Over time I’ve caught myself in hunting situations or even field practice situations thinking I was level, but being just a little bit off. Then, I monitored other people and the level of error that’s required to miss your target, we’re talking vital zone here, is small enough that you can’t quite always repeatedly adjust your scope without that level. That’s one of those areas where, for $50 to $75, you put the level on it and be done with it.

The funny thing is, if we’re talking to bow hunters, how many bow sights have a level on them?

Yeah.

We’re talking if a guy is a really competent archer, 60 yard shots are the norm, and all of a sudden you kind of think geez why in the heck haven’t we been talking about that in rifle shooting. Forget long range.

Well, some people talk about it. It’s just very easy to overlook when it’s time to set up the gear.

Right.

Just like when people talk about inclination shots. Everybody knows you’ve got to do something.

Exactly.

But, do you really know what to do and how much?

Good point. One of the things I wanted to get into as well, Aaron, is the concept of what we can call case studies or hunting examples. I think a lot of people have a hard time putting long range shooting into a context that applies to them. There were a lot of guys at the course who hunt down here, Wyoming, Montana, Colorado, places like that, who hunt in very open country and so long range shots are the norm, not the exception. However, I think there are a lot of guys who go into the mountains and are surprised at the fact that there are many shots that are not long range. That being said, there are many stories of guys passing up shots after dropping tens of thousands of dollars on the “hunt of a lifetime” that ended up being “hunt one of a lifetime” because they’re going to have to do it again the next year.

Bottom Metal

And, by the way, the guy that tells that story, I have a lot of respect for. He says, “Man this was just outside of my comfort zone and I’m not taking that shot.” That is exactly how that person should be and I respect that a lot.

Absolutely! The utmost respect, I would second that. Nonetheless, there are a lot of people who pass on that shot or there are a lot of people who have an opportunity that is just outside their range, who would, with the right instruction and the right equipment perhaps better understand how this realm applies to them. It doesn’t have to be at 1,400 yards, but we’re talking edge of their effective range.

We sell a lot of guns in November and December and most of the conversations start with, “If only I would have had this gun, let me tell you a story.”

I bet.

Another one of my favourite stories is the guy that buys the gun, gets it set up, spends all year practicing and prepping and then I get this email at the end of the year and he says, “Check out my stomper sheep that I killed at 69 yards.”

Yeah, yeah, of course!

I’ll take it, right. I know I’m not going to miss at 69!

Absolutely.

So a good case study or example. I think, for guys who hunt in the west, and there are a lot of guys that haven’t been west yet, but maybe they’re planning on it, so we’re talking western hunting but also mixing in true mountain hunting. I think in a lot of cases, mountain hunting is long distance country. A lot of the mountain ranges that I’ve been in whether it’s the North West Territories or it’s the Montana Rockies, or the high alpine in Colorado, a lot of it is long range country. When you have the capability to shoot long, I feel that most people will adopt their hunting techniques to maximize their efficiency in hunting and increase their success rates.

My favourite example, which is kind of broad spectrum, is how we’ve worked with an outfitter called Western Lands in Utah. We did our first training course at their ranch, the Ensign Ranch in Utah, just on the Utah-Wyoming border in 2007. We’ve been with them since that time and we’ve done courses there with them every year and all of our Level 3 Courses have been held at that location lately. If we look at this group, they made a name by putting their clients on monster, whopper deer. You go look at some of the movies that Rusty Hall put out back in the day, with Trophy Hunter when he was involved with Western Lands, you would watch these movies and these guys would shoot these 200+ inch deer. How the hunt seemed to go down was they would see the deer and then they would make a stalk on the deer and they would get the hunter within a few hundred yards and then all of a sudden they’d have to shoot. The deer’s alert, something’s happening and it’s time to throw some lead. They wouldn’t have a really great rest set up and the guy would be shooting off hand, or shooting sitting down on his butt, or shooting over some guy’s shoulder and usually there was more than one shot— multiple shots, lots of shots—lots of wounded game, lots of follow up, lots of chasing them down but they’d kill these big deer.

Then, as we started working with Western Lands, and there are some great guys there—Travis Murphy, Tyler Schofield. Tyler gets long range shooting more than anybody that I know – but these guys quickly realized that they could set a client down at five or six hundred yards with a deer that did not know what was going on, take all the time they needed to set up and put a rear rest in place and with confidence and with low pressure make that one-shot kill.

Right.

That to me is an excellent case study of how your hunting techniques will change. No longer are they trying to close in and take that close shot and shoot a deer that’s moving or aware. They’ll hang back just a little bit and with a little shooting upfront, a little practice, getting comfortable with the client before they go hunting, those five and six hundred yard shots are basically ‘gimme shots.’

Right.

And more importantly, now we’re achieving our objective of that ethical kill.

Absolutely.

I’m all about get as close you can, but as soon as that mentality jeopardizes the success of the hunt, that’s where I draw the line.

Absolutely. As you were talking about some of the elements of the ethical question, Aaron, it got me thinking. I grew up in Eastern Canada, where it was legal to run hounds on deer. Every Fall we would do what we called a running deer shoot. My uncles would set up this track and we’d used deer sized cardboard cut-outs for targets. We would run this track on a little motor and we’d get 20 or 30 guys from the community who would come out and we’d have a competition. I couldn’t tell you what the speed was, but these targets would come across at whitetail deer running speed. Not full-tilt, but typical moving through the brush deer speed and you’d have to put three shots on target. I credit that training to why I can shoot relatively well today.

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But it certainly makes me think about the ethics of those shots compared to these highly debated “long-range” situations. In my Eastern example, we’re dealing with a moving animal in tight cover, with open sights often times. When compared to a non-rushed, 500 – 700 yard shot in the right conditions on an animal that is unawares, is that not as ethical as taking a shot at a moving animal at 50 yards or 60 yards?

Personally, if the animal is moving and you take a shot, I think you’re skirting into grey territory. I don’t care how much practice you have or how much experience, you are in the grey. Maybe that’s just because I’m so used to steady shots, with plenty of time, and I understand how significant that is in your ability to hit and break a trigger. There are guys who can do it, but it’s tough. It really is.

We’re hitting on probably what one of the most important points of this discussion and that is this all boils down to training and education, practice, specifically the right kind of practice, and, of course, the equipment. If we put the equipment aside for just a second, where I would respectfully disagree with you on that that grey area is if you have practiced that moving shot, like you’ve talked about practising at long range, and you have proven that you can consistently make those shots on the moving animal, then we’re having a different discussion.

Agreed. If you can identify where your limits are, that’s where you can identify what you can work on. Whether it’s shooting game, running or shooting from unsupported positions or taking long shots, that’s exactly right. You have to be able to prove it. You have to practise those things and make them happen.

Right. Absolutely. And that’s one of the things I walked away from my two days down here with a certain level of proof that it was possible, and possible at a very ethical level.

So, moving on what I wanted to cover at the finish here, Aaron, is what’s new or noteworthy for Gunwerks. What’s in the pipeline that you can speak about over the balance of 2015, and into 2016? What can we expect to see coming from Gunwerks?

Our big push for the last few years has been to get control of all of our designs. Basically, we’re cutting out the off-the-shelf components and that’s a bigger project than you might think. It really has consumed us, and a lot of our resources, moving forward. Our big R&D projects for new cool stuff has been kind of slow. This year we brought a new action to the market and we brought a new stock to the market. That was one of our big pushes. And, this past summer, we released the updates to our BR2 range finder. Those are our new products that we brought out this year and are currently available. That’s the Magnus model with the rifle stock and then the new BR2.

The products that we’re working on right now are pretty much related to either stock designs or manufacturing processes—so trying to develop new and better systems there—and then, putting those aside, it’s all focused around ballistics and ballistic tools. Because, really, if you go back to the concepts of being successful in precision shooting, it always come back to that fundamental of the ballistic correction. If you’ve got a scope that clicks right or you’ve got a reticle that measures correctly and that scope will hold point of impact. It doesn’t matter what the brand says on it. If you’ve got a rifle that will shoot a group that is acceptable and you’ve got a bullet that will deliver enough velocity to expand downrange, you’ve got the components for a shooting system. But, the thing that’s universal to everything is you have to have those ballistic calculations. That’s really where we’re putting our efforts.

We’re ready to bring the next product to market that’s going to replace the ballistic turret. In some respects the BR2 does that. The new products are oriented towards those high tech ballistic solutions. Think Tracking Point without all the gadgetry, so to speak. Lasers, weapons mounted lasers, ballistic computers, rifle scopes, that’s the exciting stuff that we’re working on right now that we feel is going to be the next thing that changes our industry.

Wow! Sounds incredible. Can’t wait to see that stuff come out.

MTNXTurret

Okay. I think that’s a wrap from my perspective. The last thing I’ll ask is: where can people find out more about Gunwerks? Give our audience the opportunity to find you.

A lot of the good stuff you can get from Gunwerks, we’ve put out there for free. Basically, look at our YouTube channel – YouTube/Gunwerks. That is a great resource and a good entry into our company and how we do things.

Our website is a little out-dated, but we’re working on updating that. It’s Gunwerks.com. That will put people into the ability to see our G7 products and our rifle products.

One of the cool things about our company versus the garage gunsmith, is that there are a lot of people available to answer the phone and we have a lot of people who know about our products and what’s going on. So the phone is a great way to get a hold of us.

Our phone number is: (307) 296-7300. That’s a direct line to us.

We’ve got Melanie, Aaron, Garret and Kregg as our frontline guys for handling phone calls. I handle a lot of the tech support information and then, on the secondary line, we have Jeremy and further down the line we’ve got Mike, James and those guys. There are literally over a half dozen people who are available during work hours to take your call.

Fantastic.

We do have call volume spikes at different times of the week and we may not be able to take your call immediately, but we call back very quickly, so leave a voicemail and we’ll address those concerns for you.

That’s something I feel very strongly about providing is the ability to reach a person and talk to a person.

Right, especially when it comes to making decisions on equipment or courses that, let’s face it, aren’t exactly cheap.

They’re significant.

On the note of the YouTube channel it is fantastic. I went over it quite a bit before coming down for the course and it’s a great resource for people who haven’t checked it out yet. I personally can promise our audience that you’ll learn something. As experienced as you may think you are, you will learn something on the YouTube channel and you will most certainly learn something if you come down to a Level 1 Course. I cannot vouch for it more strongly, having just gone through it.

Thanks again, Aaron, I really appreciate your time.

Range

 


 

BLAZING TRAIL IS BROUGHT TO YOU BY THE WILD SHEEP FOUNDATION

 

Posted by JOMH Editor