Editor’s Note: Patrick Flanigan, a native of Oshkosh, Wisconsin, holds nine world records for exhibition shooting. He's been shooting exhibitions for 15 years and has traveled the world shooting exhibitions for the last 12 years. But Flanigan’s more than an exhibition shooter – he’s an Xtreme Sports shooter. This year he’ll be putting on shows in Europe, Peru and all across the U.S. Each year he participates in 60 to 75 live exhibitions. “I try not to try to impress people with my shooting,” Flanigan says. “I want to entertain them.” Flanigan’s show starts with some modern rock music, explosions and fireworks. Then he entertains people shooting shotguns, rifles and revolvers. Flanigan is one of the newest members of the Mossy Oak team. When he's not traveling the world producing shows, he's an avid waterfowl hunter and upland bird hunter. His favorite pattern to wear is Mossy Oak Shadow Grass Blades. He believes that Mossy Oak Shadow Grass Blades can’t be beat for waterfowling or upland bird hunting and explains, “I've worn Mossy Oak camouflage my entire life. I really feel fortunate to be a part of Mossy Oak’s national Pro Staff.”
I was filming a TV show called “Shell Shocked” for the Sportsman’s Channel that I hosted. The premise of the show was that I would travel the country and compete against other professional shooters in the shooting discipline for which they were known. Our producer lined me up to shoot against a cowboy action shooter. I didn’t really have any idea what the words, cowboy action shooting, meant. I only was given 24 hours to learn how to draw and shoot a pistol for a cowboy action competition. After spending all day practicing, I was able to draw, shoot and hit a target with a revolver. My time was .6 seconds to draw, cock the hammer, aim and break a target. The pro cowboy action shooter I was competing against said, “Patrick, you ought to consider competing in cowboy action tournaments, because you're really doing well.” So, I began to meet with him and develop the idea of throwing out multiple targets and shooting them quickly with a .45 caliber revolver. I got to the point where I could pull the revolver out of the holster and shoot one or two targets in the air before they hit the ground and re-holster the revolver in less than a second. (If Flanigan had chosen to be a gun slinger in the Old West, he’d probably have been one of the greatest gun fighters of all time. However, that occupation would have gone against his Christian moral code). In another part of my exhibition, I started with the revolver holstered. We had a timer set-up that beeped the seconds. I could draw the revolver, cock it and hit a target in .4 seconds. Before this, I really never intended to be shooting rifles and revolvers in my show. Shotgunning was my chosen sport.
I grew up in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. My hunting heritage goes back to my dad, my grandfather and my four brothers. My grandfather had one of the largest Winchester gun collections in the United States. So, my brothers and I were always shooting different types of Winchester guns for fun. My grandfather had a farm, and when our farming chores were completed, we’d often have time and space to go out and shoot for fun. I realized at an early age that I was a competitor. For instance, if one of my brothers could shoot a can off a fence post from 20 yards with a .410 shotgun, I’d try to shoot the can off the fence post at 50 yards with the same .410 shotgun. I believe that when you grow up with four brothers you naturally become a competitor.
I'm the second oldest of five boys. All five of us boys grew up shooting and hunting. My dad didn’t believe in shooting shotgun shells to break clay targets. He believed that when you squeezed the trigger on a shotgun shell that meat should fall from the sky and appear on the dinner table that night. So, I didn’t start shooting clay targets until I was 16. My buddy’s father took me to shoot skeet. Skeet shooting was really easy, natural and fun for me. Eventually, I started shooting skeet tournaments, but I was never really overexcited about shooting skeet and trap.
Then I began to learn about exhibition shooters like the legendary exhibition shooter from the 1950s Herb Parsons, who was the legendary shooter for Winchester. www.showmanshooter.com
My grandfather had videos of Parsons and some of the other great exhibition shooters of his time. As I watched those videos, my competitive nature kicked in, and when I could slip away from my grandfather and dad, I’d try to duplicate the shots I saw on those videos. But never once in my life did I wake up and say to myself, “I want to be a professional trick shooter.” I didn’t really know you could make a living exhibition shooting. I just loved to shoot and loved to hunt.
To learn more about Patrick Flanigan and to see him perform some of his incredible shots, go to his YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/xtremeshooter or his Facebook team page www.facebook.com/flaniganxtremeteam where you’ll find more videos and pictures, or his webpage at www.patrickflanigan.com.