Photo Credit: Jennifer Peirrone/Dave JenShoot Photography

by Mike Keleher

He is Nate Schmidt, a sixteen-year-old, from Indiana and he is a rising three-gun star in the shooting sports. He has been competing in three-gun (rifle, pistol, shotgun-running and gunning) for only three years now. He is already a top contender in several three-gun categories…and won’t have a driver’s license until the end of June!

I met Nate his first year in the sport. He was tall and oh- so polite and impressed me by not only being a good shooter, but he also soaked up information from other shooters like a sponge. He was there to shoot and have fun, but also to learn and not tell jokes and stories like the rest of us!

This third summer of shooting has been a monster for Nate. His proficiency and equipment have come leaps and bounds in a very short time, and he now regularly competes for top spots in major three-gun competitions, outpacing old timers with decades more experience. At a recent match Nate finished just seconds/points behind multiple world record holder Jerry Miculek.

Nate and Jerry Miculek.

Nate’s shooting is a family event and his Uber Support Crew is made up of his father Joe, a Sheriff’s Detective with tons of military and other shooting experience, who helps with range strategies and keeps the rest of the Crew calm, and his mother Christine, the heart of the crew, who is a nurse in real life and not carrying ammunition or checking scores on Practiscores every Saturday and Sunday.

Photo Credit: Jennifer Peirrone/Dave JenShoot Photography

On summer weekends, Christine and Joe keep the Crew positive and motivated while hauling Nate and his gear all over America to local, regional and national shoots and making sure they all meet as many new people as possible along the way. During Nate’s first Match at Mission 22 couple years back, I saw his grandfather was also part of the crew sitting in the hot sun for two days and urging this young shooter on.

Nate and Crew at the prize table.

I sat with Nate at the Zombies in the Heartland Match this summer in Grand Island, NE and wanted the Guns Save Life readers to see what was possible if you invest in a young person who just wants to shoot. Nate said he started out shooting BB guns and .22’s on targets like most kids do, but he also started researching the action shooting sports and learning everything he could about three-gun competitions watching YouTube videos before heading out to his first local match in Indiana.

I asked about his first competition guns, and Nate said he mowed lawns all summer one year to pay for a pistol, rifle and shotgun purchased by his parents. His first pistol was a Glock 19 in 9mm, a Smith & Wesson M+P 15 AR carbine, and a Mossberg 930 JM Pro 12 ga shotgun- all fine entry grade firearms for any new shooter.

Three years and many matches later, Nate is running a Phoenix Trinity Honcho 2011 double stack 9mm pistol (it looks like a 1911, but any other resemblance and many $$$ ends there), a reworked Benelli M2 12 ga shotgun (probably the most prolific shotty in three-gun) and an American Defense Manufacturing AR Carbine with and Athlon 1-10x tactical scope. With three-gun rifle targets now extending beyond 600 yards in some matches the 1-10x is the go-to scope and Athlon makes some very impressive glass.

Athlon jetted up a very cool video of Nate combatting the Z’s and set to music- throwing it together on a laptop as Joe Schmidt and I watched. I hope it will run for you- my embedding skills are latent at best. (2) Facebook or copy and paste into your browser.

Nate has picked up a number of sponsorships in his short career, and even got to attend this year’s SHOT Show in one of his sponsor’s booths! Not bad for a 16-year-old- they don’t let you take kids or dogs into the SHOT Show, but you can take exhibitors and demonstrators in to show off for the 60,000 people in attendance from the shooting trades.

By Zombie Match time in June, Nate had already been to three national level three-gun matches this year and three local matches. The previous week he had been to the Tarheel Nationals in North Carolina and finished 11th overall in the match shooting Tactical Optics class which had several hundred shooters. Tac Ops allows a scope on your rifle but no scopes or red dots on your shotgun and pistol. At the Missouri State Championships this year he finished 12th over all in Tac Op.

At the Zombie Match, Nate was trying out a new shooting class, the Open Division. Think of Open Division as Dragster Class. You can have one or more scopes/dots on your rifle, a red dot and recoil compensator on your pistol, and a red dot and compensator on your shotgun. Also, your shotgun can be magazine fed- this is so much faster to reload than traditional shotguns. All in all, the Open class guns go faster-if the operator can keep up.

For the Open Division, Nate was shooting his Phoenix Trinity Honcho pistol with a Trijicon SRO red dot sight on top, and a compensator screwed on to the end of the barrel. His rifle did not change, but he borrowed an AK-47 style shotgun put together by Dissident Arms, an AR-12, with a red dot on top of the receiver, compensator on the barrel, good trigger, and of course it is magazine fed. Nate can drop the shotgun mag and reload with a 10 or more round 12-gauge mag in just over a second.

Nate’s Phoenix Trinity Honcho tricked out for Open Division.
Photo Credit: Jennifer Peirrone/Dave JenShoot Photography

How did he do at the all-Zombie shoot with this new class and borrowed shotgun on the 10 stages? He set the fastest time on one of the stages out of the 225 shooters and was second fastest on another stage. In the Open Division he finished 8th out of 70 shooters, and he was in 10th place overall for the entire match! Pretty darn impressive. One of Nate’s mentors and all-around nice guy, Jay Carillo finished first overall, and Jerry Miculek finished fourth. Good company to hang with.

In the winter and off hours, Nate said he shoots lots of dry fire and uses a live fire pistol simulator which has laser ammo and recoil operates the slide- all in conjunction with a computer which not only records hits, but it is also programmable, and Nate can program in shooting courses and even real-life self-defense scenarios.

Asking Nate for advice on how new shooters or junior shooters can get started in the shooting sports, he encourages others to attend local matches to learn the safety rules and get to know other shooters like he did with the Indiana Multigun Series. At those local matches he got lots of good advice, coaching by more experienced shooters and even having fellow competitors loan him gear. Nate was quick to remark there is a very social side to three-gun, and if they like you, they will pick on you in fun (junior shooter or adult) but he has made many new friends and is well supported along the way. He enjoys the way shooters will encourage each other to go faster and do better. Second only to learning the safety rules, Nate recommends new shooters “Have fun! And don’t get too caught up with the speed and competition part in the beginning. Go for the fun!”

Asking this top competitor what the rest of this summer looked like, and future beyond high school, Nate, like any other 16-year-old, was looking forward to getting his driver’s license this month and hanging out with friends. He has a number of matches yet this summer travelling almost every weekend to many different states and won’t finish up until September or October.

Beyond high school, Nate thinks he might attend a trade school for professional welding and ultimately would like to get a job in the shooting sports to go along with the shooting career he sees ahead of him. You can follow along on Nate’s Facebook page.

One thought on “Meet Junior Shooter and Rising Star Nate Schmidt”
  1. Congratulations Nate, you are doing amazing things and your hard work is definitely showing. Keep up the amazing job and the Lucas Team w/eXp Realty is so glad to be able to see you achieve your goals.

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