An Average Guy at the IraqVeteran8888 Range Day – The Unexpected Journey

The Unexpected Journey – An Average Guy at the IraqVeteran8888 Range Day By Gear-Report.com’s newest contributor, Tom Still somewhat dazed by deafening explosions and a hail of rapid gunfire all […]

img_20161003_082734337The Unexpected Journey – An Average Guy at the IraqVeteran8888 Range Day

By Gear-Report.com’s newest contributor, Tom

Still somewhat dazed by deafening explosions and a hail of rapid gunfire all around me, I take a moment to recollect my thoughts. The air was thick with smoke and an unmistakable stench of burnt powder. Behind me I hear a slow spoken but distinctly familiar voice. I turn around and see two giants with the sun directly behind them lumbering towards me. I think to myself, “How did I get here?”

Just thirty six hours earlier on Thursday evening as my colleagues and I were walking off the tennis court having just finished a doubles match I got a call from Jeff, a person whom I haven’t seen in nearly a year. Having only met him once at the range I didn’t expect his call but he was direct and to the point.

“Hey Tom, I was wondering if you want to go to a range event this weekend in Georgia. One of my writers canceled at the last minute and I am short-handed. We leave in about 16 hours. I know it is short notice, but I think you’ll enjoy it.”

What an understatement that turned out to be.

After getting home I see an email flyer Jeff sent me titled “IraqVeteran8888 Fourth Annual YouTube Range Day” in my inbox. Being a fan of Eric and Chad’s videos I became intrigued. I called Jeff back later that night for some logistical details before agreeing to go on very short notice. The next evening we packed up and were on our way to Red Hill Range in Georgia. A quick four hour drive from North Carolina later and we settle into camp for the night.

Flash forward to the next morning and I still don’t know what to expect. I’m in a swarm of people and I hear Eric’s (IV8888 himself!) voice over the PA system initiating a countdown.

Eric taking the ceremonial first shot... which blew up an obscene amount of binary targets... and created Red, White and Blue explosions

Eric taking the ceremonial first shot… which blew up an obscene amount of binary targets… and created Red, White and Blue explosions

Through the opening barrage of shots and explosions later I snap out of my figurative and literal fog to realize the towering figures were Hickok45 and Big John! Who knew they were so tall in person?

hickok45

Over the next hour I float around bumping into the who’s who of YouTube firearm celebrities. TNOutdoors9, TwangNBang, 22Plinkster, FPSRussia, MrGunsNGear, the Skinny Medic, VSO Channel, The Gun Collective, Adam from NFA Review Channel, Rapidfire Rachel, and even a guy who looked a helluva lot like Tim from Military Arms Channel (It was Robbie Wheaton from Wheaton Arms Inc.)…

After taking pictures and rubbing the star-stricken look out of my eyes I turn my attention to the firing line and grab the nearest fully automatic weapon and go to town on dozens of steel and binary targets downrange.

After two days of intense shooting and thoroughly satisfying my boyhood dreams on nearly every conceivable NFA-class firearm, I take a final minute to soak in the beautiful sunset on the lead drenched field before packing up and heading home, swapping stories along the way. I can’t help but to imagine how awesome and rare of an opportunity I had been presented with and how easily it could have been missed. Having never been to an event remotely similar to this, the experiences, emotions, and memories I’ll surely hold onto for the rest of my life.

About Tom

Based in Morrisville NC, Tom is a project manager and software engineer by trade. A recent MBA graduate from UNC Chapel Hill, Tom holds multiple degrees in both IT and business. Tom logs a LOT of frequent flier miles setting up financial systems in exotic destinations like China, Korea, Japan and Mexico for an insurance company. Tom’s other love is of course shooting. After being introduced in 2006 by his buddy Dom, he’s built up an impressive collection with particular focus on accurate long distance rigs. After taking several training courses from Academi (formerly Blackwater), Tom has participated in various handgun, 2-Gun and long range competitions. Having met Jeff seemingly by luck at at the range one afternoon, he later became a regular Gear-Report team contributor in 2016 after finishing grad school. Having background knowledge in high end optics from his birdwatching days, Tom especially loves nitpicking at glass and scopes. Look for Tom’s product reviews throughout the Shooting section of Gear-Report!