Annual shooting summit continues to grow in popularity and still encourages ALL shooters to join the fun, doors are open


By Matt Manda and our friends at NSSF

When the Adaptive Defensive Shooting Summit (ADSS) was first held four years ago at the SIG Sauer Academy and Experience Center in Epping, N.H., there were just 13 participants.

Fast forward to ADSS 2022 and the growth in popularity and participation is remarkable for a shooting competition designed for people to overcome disabilities and shooting skills of all levels.

After three days of instruction, practice and full-fledged competition, there was a common theme voiced by everyone as they headed home from the 140-acre SIG Experience campus: keeping the momentum building for the future. There is little doubt next year’s competition will bring together even more people with adaptive abilities to compete who all share a common bond – a love of shooting.


Annual shooting summit continues to grow in popularity and still encourages ALL shooters to join the fun, doors are open
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Growing the Community

Between 2020 and 2021, nearly 40 million law-abiding Americans passed an FBI National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) verification and purchased a firearm. NSSF retailer industry data showed approximately 40 percent of 2020’s gun buyers were first-timers. What most Americans don’t even think about day-to-day, though, is that number includes Americans with adaptive abilities.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 13 million Americans between the ages 18 and 64 have a physical disability that limits their movement in some way. That doesn’t count those who are sight limited, blind (like ADSS participant Carey McWilliams), deaf or those with hearing impairment.

Those Americans are buying and using firearms as well, and they’re learning more and more about opportunities to join a community like ADSS.

Rick Cicero, a certified firearm instructor and ADSS match instructor said:

“The thing we keep in mind in all this is you don’t grow a community from inside the tent.”

Cicero lost an arm and leg in an explosion in Afghanistan 12 years ago. He uses the knowledge he gained before his injury and after to help adaptive marksmen improve their skills, gain confidence and realize the full spectrum of their capabilities.

Cicero continued:

“It really takes everyone to bring more visibility to shooters with disabilities and competitions like ADSS and the support from the entire industry help do that and bring more people out of their homes and into the fold. ADSS is something completely genuine that does that.”

ADSS 2022 showed the formula is working. After only 13 participants traveled to Epping, N.H., for the inaugural shoot four years ago, more than 55 participants registered to compete at this year’s match.

Annual shooting summit continues to grow in popularity and still encourages ALL shooters to join the fun, doors are open
Copyright free stock image.

National Footprint

After four years of hosting ADSS at the SIG Academy in the northeast, it’s clear the event’s popularity means shooting for new goals, including branching out and taking advantage of more locations across the nation.

Past ADSS participant and instructor Nick Fairall said the growth is remarkable and has no worries about the momentum continuing.

Fairall also said:

“We’re all in on this event and the firearm industry has been critical. They don’t ever want to say ‘No’ to something because of someone’s disability.”

For him, growing the competition’s footprint nationally is a no-brainer. Fairall added:

“It’s awesome what ADSS can provide. Of course we want, regardless of disability, for people to be able to shoot safely and proficiently. It’s not just working on shooting and proficiency and to get you out shooting. It’s about improving your skills and becoming a more competent shooter. If you’re better than you were yesterday, you’re doing a good job.”

Cicero explained that plans for ADSS include adding regional competitions in states like Florida, Texas, California and others to make it easier for participants to travel and be a part of the weekend.

Cicero said:

“These plans are in the works and they’re so far highly successful.”

Fairall also boiled it down to why the event is so popular. He added:

“It’s fun to get out on the range, to go to classes and go burn it down on the range, of course. But also to develop skills and have a group where you’re not an oddball out at a range. There are extremely high-level shooters and beginners alike and everyone’s there for the same reasons.”

Annual shooting summit continues to grow in popularity and still encourages ALL shooters to join the fun, doors are open
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Changing People’s Lives

Chad Barber, Competition Program Specialist at SIG Sauer, sang the same tune following last month’s ADSS 2022 and keeping the momentum going into next year and beyond. Barber said:

“The goal now is to keeping it growing, to keep it up. That means regionals, that means getting more people out there with other like-minded people too. Industry support has to be there across the board, it has to be supported by industry – and it has. The support for us has been phenomenal.”

Barber added, though, bringing people with adaptive abilities into the shooting community, regardless of skill level, is about more than just competition. It’s about impact. Barber explained:

“We knew this event would impact people’s lives.”

He continued:

“What we didn’t know is just how much our lives would be impacted. It’s about bringing more of that visibility for shooters of all kinds, young, old, abled and disabled.”

Cicero echoed that sentiment. Events like ADSS build confidence, awareness and acceptance.

Cicero then asked:

“As someone who might feel guns are bad, how do you say guns are bad when you see more people like me, and more people like these participants, using them safely and responsibly?” 

The positive feedback and excitement was already building for next year’s match even as ADSS 2022 came to a close. Everyone is aiming on the same target to keep the momentum building.

Annual shooting summit continues to grow in popularity and still encourages ALL shooters to join the fun, doors are open
Copyright free stock photo.

Fairall  added:

“For the [ADSS] community already, it’s about being welcoming and learning firearms training in a fun way. It was great there were so many people this year that said they can’t wait already for next year. They loved it and love being a part of it!”

Fairall concluded with a concise takeaway for everyone and said:

“ADSS is about changing peoples’ lives in a meaningful way. What we learn from this can be incorporated to everyday and even to people without any disability.”

ADSS 2023 can’t come soon enough.

Annual shooting summit continues to grow in popularity and still encourages ALL shooters to join the fun, doors are open

A look back- 2018

Lessons Learned from the Sig Sauer Academy

Being a law enforcement officer, shooting competitions and making television/films are three of my great passions in life. When Eli Crane, my friend of 24 years and former Navy SEAL turned owner of Bottle Breacher presented me with an opportunity to combine all three into one trip I couldn’t say no. Eli is a brand Ambassador for Sig Sauer firearms and was invited to film an episode of the internet series “The Real Man Show” at the Sig Sauer Academy in New Hampshire. Sig Sauer makes my agency’s duty weapons and I had long heard about the world-class facility they offer classes to police, military and private security entities from around the world in.

It seemed like the perfect trip.

The New Hampshire temperatures were in the 30’s with scattered rain. I quickly layered on as many clothes as my lanky (I call tactically agile) frame would allow while Eli laughed at me and put on a jacket and called it good. I kept my cold complaints to myself as it’s pretty hard to complain to a Navy SEAL that has been to hell and back.

Eli and I departed the hotel and met Kyle Reyes of The Real Man Show at the Sig Sauer Academy Pro shop and quickly sketched out our filming activities for the day. Kyle brought several former military members with him to round out the crew and after quick introductions, we were introduced to Tom Taylor the Chief Marketing Officer and Executive Vice President of Commercial Sales.

Annual shooting summit continues to grow in popularity and still encourages ALL shooters to join the fun, doors are open
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A group of expert Sig Sauer Academy instructors introduced themselves and the weapons we would be using throughout the day. Sig provided a table of their new SigM400 Tread complete with Tango 1-6 variable power scopes. I personally have run a variable power scope for years in 3-gun and the Tread provided the lightweight rifle with slim handguard and Sopmod type stock I run several weekends a month in competitions.

This new rifle comes in at well under $1000.00 and Sig should have a hit on their hands with it. With the safety briefing complete we were informed that we would be doing some head to head rifle competitions, long-range obstacle courses, short-range decision making courses, and a police canine demonstration. It was going to be an action-packed day with expert instruction and I couldn’t wait to get out of the classroom to kick it off.

We began the shooting day by zeroing our rifles and the frigid temperatures forced me to fight the shivers and deliver a 5 shot group several times.

The Tread easily delivered 1 MOA or better results and had I not been shaking like a puppy I’m sure I could have easily delivered even better results. With our rifles zeroed, it was discovered that one of our team members had accidentally shot the wrong target and we informed that this range day had consequences for failure.

If we made a mistake such as moving to a position without a weapon ready to fire, moving without placing our weapons on safe or in this case shooting the wrong target, we would be required to pay the man. The punishment was to run to a hanging bell at the tree line and hit it with a hammer while screaming “I’m a dead man” 10 times and then run back.

It was comical to watch our buddy do this but we were assured that this was to make sure we remembered our mistakes in this training environment so we don’t make them out on the streets or on the battlefield. With a penalty for failure noted in our minds, we began our first drill of the day. Head to head rifle plate trees.

We were paired up and instructed to stand at the end of our shooting mats. On the buzzer, we were to drop down and fire at our own respective shooting tree 100 yards away with the first to knock over their targets the winner.

Eli and I decided to shoot head to head in a law enforcement versus military shoot off and at the signal, we both quickly dropped down and began to rapidly hit our targets in a quick back and forth succession. Eli and I have been shooting together since we were kids and it was no surprise that we finished our racks at the exact same time.

Though it was a tie for the round, I know that Eli is a far superior shooter and it was nice just to be able to hang with his expert shooting ability. With some friendly competition out of the way we moved on to our next event; the police canine demonstration.

Annual shooting summit continues to grow in popularity and still encourages ALL shooters to join the fun, doors are open
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This wasn’t just a demonstration but an active participation drill. Eli donned the bite proof protective wear and gave a quick camera interview as a larger than life German shephard named Riddick eagerly barked behind him in an intimidating fashion.

Eric Palmer is a former law enforcement officer and expert canine handler and explained to the cameras exactly what Riddick was trained to do.

Eli was instructed to follow Eric’s every command and Eric began to instruct Riddick in German. I found a bilingual canine to be hilarious even though Riddick was frothing and howling to get to Eli.

A quick command from Eric sent Riddick leaping at Eli and his power jaws clamped down on the protective sleeve as he began to pull forcing Eli to follow his lead. As Eli was tugged around, Eric gave another German command and Riddick instantly released him and sat down. It was an impressive show of control and the relationship Eric and Riddick had formed.

Sig built a shoot house comprised of vehicles and structures with an array of numbers, letters and symbols next to steel plates in a Mad Max type maze.

On the buzzer, you were to navigate from between vehicles and structures and engage targets as your instructor called them out. It forced you to identify your threat quickly and make hits while staying behind cover, moving and reloading as necessary while being timed in a stress environment.

We each navigated the course and our unfortunate shooting buddy who was penalized earlier was able to secure the fastest time and redeem himself for the group and the cameras. Our final course for the day was long-range improvised position precision shooting with a course designed by a former Navy SEAL.

With the day’s shooting complete we thanked Tom and the instructors for an amazing day of training and filming and promised to return in the future for more challenges and world-class instruction.

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Annual shooting summit continues to grow in popularity and still encourages ALL shooters to join the fun, doors are open



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