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 became a professional shooter as the result of a college assignment in my business marketing class. One of my business professors challenged our class by giving us an assignment at the first of the semester, saying, “You have to turn yourself into a product and sell that product. How well you're able to accomplish this assignment will help determine your final grade.” While I was in college, I was the youth minister at a church. I was talking with a pastor friend of mine about this assignment. What kind of product could I become? This pastor was good at getting to know people and then presenting them with the idea of what they were best at, and what they might become.
At the same time, I was going to school and working at the church, I was a professional drummer. I had played drums my entire life. I told the pastor I thought I would write my paper on being a professional drummer and a drum teacher. I’d find a youngster who was interested in playing the drums and teach him how to be a drummer. The title of my paper would be, “I'm a Professional Drummer.” But the pastor said, “No, I don’t think that’s a very good idea. Your passion is shooting, hunting and being in the outdoors. Why don’t you consider the possibility of filming your own TV show? Your product would be you and your TV show.” So, I produced a show called “Midwest Wings,” which actually aired on the Sportsman’s Channel. In every episode of the show, I performed trick shots. I passed the course and kept producing the TV show, even though I wasn’t getting paid to do it.
So, later with my church and my pastor behind me, I decided to become an outdoor TV show producer. I went out to pursue sponsors and took DVDs to show to the sponsors. Because I knew so much about Winchester and all the guns I had grown up shooting were Winchesters, that company was the first one I went to see about sponsorships. However, Winchester was the first company to turn me down. But the company also was the first to give me a contract. In the meeting I had with them, the folks at Winchester said, “Your TV show is terrible, but your trick shooting is worthwhile. Have you ever seen Tom Knapp?” I said, “No.” At that time, I didn’t even know who Tom Knapp was. He had been an exhibition shooter for Benelli for about 20 or 25 years and just passed away last year. Knapp was putting on 100 to 150 exhibition shooting shows per year and helped promote Benelli, and he was making good money doing it.
They asked me, “Can you put together a show of exhibition shooting like Knapp does for Benelli for the Winchester Company?” I smiled and said, “Sure I can. Just give me a little time.” That’s how I got my first contract to be an exhibition shooter, and how I got out of being a TV producer. I started traveling to Knapp’s shows. I watched what he did and got to know him. Then I went back home and used my marketing background, my creativity and my athletic ability to create a shooting-exhibition show. At first I tried to be like Tom Knapp and call myself an exhibition shooter. I wore an old traditional-looking vest. But as I began to develop my own style of Xtreme shooting, I realized we had to capture the young people as well as the veteran hunters and shooters. For the last 12 years, we’ve tried to update my Xtreme shooting with music, fireworks and the entertainment aspect of the show. I’ve tried to improve my shooting skills to include rifles and revolvers. We’re constantly looking for and developing Xtreme shooting to continue to produce new and exciting shows for people around the world.
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.