Professional trap shooter turns hobby into livelihood
By Renee Larr
Geist resident, Bob Self, has spent more than 40 years shooting guns. What started out as a recreational interest quickly became a part-time job opportunity which eventually manifested into a full-time career.
“When I was about 21 or 22 I was married and my father-in-law was a shooter. He started building guns. He taught me all about gunsmithing and gun fitting,” said Self.
Over the course of the last 40 years his love for shooting guns has taken him around the United States and the world. He has clients that range from children to Tiger Wood’s former golf coach as a child to congresswoman Susan Brooks. Some even travel to the Indiana Gun Club for their lessons from as far away as California.
Self currently teaches trap and skeet at the IGC located in Geist. In trap shooting the targets are launched from one house or machine. In skeet shooting the targets are launched from more than one machine coming at the shooter from various angles.
In addition to teaching Self competes at an international level shooting sporting clays or clay pigeons that are ejected from houses at varying speeds and heights at a rotation of stations. His impressive list of wins include 13 time Veteran Champion at State Champions, two Zone Veteran Champion wins and five Gamaliel Cup Veteran Champion among others. Self even has sponsors which provide him with clothing and protective eye and ear wear.
Self’s teaching and competing allows him to travel for part of the year. Winters in Indiana can prove to be a slower time for someone who teaches at an outdoor gun range so Self travels to warmer weather climates teaching students to hunt birds.
“In the winter when it got so bad here I was fortunate enough to have some doctors that I teach down in Sea Island. We went to a plantation to hunt quail and they actually hired me to teach their guys coming in to hunt. So, I got to do some teaching out in the field,” said Self.
Self typically meets new clients at each event he attends.
“I think I traveled 90 some days last year. That’s actually how I got the deal to teach in Bangkok. I was shooting a tournament in Chicago and I think because I was friendly to them they asked me on the last day if I would come to their country and help them learn how to make the birds go away,” said Self.
As a man of many gun talents, Self also provides gun fitting services.
“Gun fitting entails several different things. The height of the cone, how the gun lines up with your face and the length of pull,” said Self.
A gun that does not fit an individual’s body will shoot at a different angle than one specially made for a client’s measurements.
Self knows there are some misconceptions about guns and even gun clubs. The only type of gun allowed at IGC is a shotgun. Self even has parents with guns in their home who bring their kids to IGC to learn gun safety training. The first bit of advice Self gives is to buy a gun safe in which to keep the guns.
“The reason guns are safer at gun clubs is because the gun has to be opened at all times. We don’t load a gun until we’re down range. You load it, you close and shoot and then open it. No one moves with a closed or loaded gun at a gun club. As much as my lessons are about shooting, they’re twice as much about safety,” said Self.
Most people only dream to have jobs that they love but Self has been lucky to take his love for shooting guns and turn it into a livelihood. For more information on Self and lessons, visit gueriniusa.com/shooter_profile/bob-self. For more information on Indiana Gun Club visit indianagunclub.com.