Competitive shooter and industry insider shares insights on the gear supporting his success
By Ethan Lamontagne
Competitive shooting veteran Travis Gibson wrapped up his 2018 schedule at the Surefire World Multi-gun Championship match earlier this month, narrowly missing a repeat of his 2017 title with a second-place overall finish in the 2X4 Open Division.
Gibson won the Open Division and was the overall match winner in 2017.
The match was held at the Pro Gun Club of Boulder City, Nevada, Oct. 5-7. Approximately 160 competitors—22 in the demanding 2X4 Open Division—participated over two-and-a-half days, shooting 15 stages, including two night stages.
Gibson, of Caldwell, Idaho, finished first on stage one, a rifle, shotgun and pistol-caliber carbine (PCC) stage, and crushed the long-range stage, finishing in first place there, engaging rifle targets from 120 to 360 yards. He also had top-three finishes on eight other stages.
The exciting 2X4 Open Division features fast-paced, dynamic shooting. Shooters use rifle, pistol, shotgun or PCC, and must use at least two guns per stage.
Gibson helped design the Caracal USA Versus rifle with a Proof Research carbon-fiber barrel he uses in competition. Gibson’s rifle is equipped with a Vortex Optics 1-6 scope with an MGM Switchview throw lever, an offset Vortex Optics red dot and a Surefire muzzle break. For ammo, he uses Hornady 62-grain TAP for close-range targets and Hornady 75-grain Steel Cased for long-range targets. He carries an EMG Customs pistol chambered in 9mm with a Vortex red dot, which he loads with Hornady 135-grain +P ammo. His shotgun is an X Rail by RCI topped with a Vortex red dot.
Gibson has been wearing Howard Leight by Honeywell hearing protection since he began shooting competitively more than a decade ago, even preceding his formal sponsorship by the brand. He wore the new Howard Leight Impact Sport Bolt electronic earmuff with digital compression circuitry at the Surefire match.
Gibson says the demands of high-speed, multi-gun events favor a fast, low-profile muff design such as the Bolt. “They’re comfortable, fit well, and it’s easy to use them with a shotgun or any shoulder-mounted gun. I really like the fast attack time Bolt’s digital circuitry provides,” says Gibson, referring to the mere .5-milliseconds it takes the muff to detect and attenuate sounds louder than 82dB. “Plus, they have excellent clarity,” he adds. “That’s critical during competition. Being able to interact with the range officers, respond to questions, or hear commands when something like an equipment failure happens is huge.”
Gibson says Impact Sport Bolt’s blend of quality, performance, comfort and pricing makes it a clear winner, for any kind or shooter—or anyone else who values their hearing. “Getting a super quality earmuff for the price point they have is hard to beat. I wear these muffs even when I’m out mowing the lawn,” he says. “I’ll put a set of foamies in with the muffs over them, plug my phone into the external 3.5mm jack and listen to music or whatever. Whether I’m shooting, weed eating, running the chain saw, or whatever, if I’m making noise outside, I’m wearing these muffs,” he says.
The Surefire World Multi-Gun Championship event concludes Gibson’s competitive year. He called the Surefire match a “great time,” where he picked up a lot of points, but “struggled on some of the short/fast stages.” He simply attributed that to a lack of practice, and plans to put more training time in over the coming months. That may be easier said than done; as much as Gibson loves competitive shooting, his main role is Vice President at MGM Targets, where he is laser-focused on getting the company ready for the SHOT Show in January.
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