The camera man above, looming above the safe-backstop steel walls of the shoot house, is the guy Todd Jarrett lovingly refers to as "Convict Mark." He's got a few piercings and a few tattoos, and he played the part of Bad Guy Who Gets Blasted By Todd Jarrett in a recent Crimson Trace promotional video. But this guy is a serious shooter and an all-around fun guy who did everything we did that weekend, often better, while also doing his job. He'd shoot us shooting, shoot whatever he needed for Downrange TV, and then put the camera down and go shoot steel. Rough life, huh? He also told the best stories; he and I traded tales of talking our wives into gun purchases one night in the lodge, but I couldn't keep up with his tales of trying to spin $7,000 trap guns from Olympic shooters as "bargains."
Don't worry; he didn't stay above those walls while we were shooting, as that would be unsafe.
He followed each of us through the shoot house instead. That scared the hell out of me, and I was the one with the gun. Now, I was moving so slowly that it was probably more like following the Titanic, so if I turned "suddenly" there was a lot of time to figure out where he was going to go. Not everyone was taking things at such a leisurely pace, though, and after one shooter who will remain nameless, Mark came out of the shoot house with wide, frightened-bunny eyes to declare "I saw Jesus!"
And here's what he did that I might not have: that was only the third or fourth shooter of the morning, so he went right in behind the next guy not five minutes later.
My favorite Mark the Convict story was the tale of the stuffed suit at an NRA convention who actually told him to leave and threatened to have him thrown out. At the time, Mark told us, he'd had purple hair, and I'm sure he had all his tattoos and piercings. He also had credentials and was actually doing his work at the convo, but that didn't impress Suit Guy, who stated with authority that "You don't represent what the NRA is about and we don't want you here."
(Remember, this is a guy who shoots with Todd Jarrett and Olympic shotgun athletes and Michael Bane . . . .)
The situation was resolved, apparently, when cooler heads told Suit Guy that he was risking The Displeasure of Sandy Froman. This apparently has the effect of raising the room's temperature to approximately the melting point of bluster, because he calmed right down.
I couldn't stop thinking how much Oleg would like to get this guy in front of a camera, but he was a little shy. Actually, he told me that if I put this one on the internet, he'd hunt me down and put an end to my internet foolishness. But mediocrity is its own reward; no one at Para or Blackwater seems to realize I even have a blog, so I doubt he'll see it, and if truth be told, I'm a little proud of it as portrait work.