- Eyes On
Robert Vogel sometimes becomes distracted watching action films and television shows.
No, heâs not disturbed by plotline loopholes or unrealistic dialogue.
The action hero during that big-budget shootout scene probably isnât holding his gun correctly to pull off that big move.
Vogel, a St. Marys native and a world-class competitive practical shooter and gun expert, notices things like that.
Vogel, who now lives in rural Wapakoneta and works as a police officer for the Kenton Police Department, won the the International Practical Shooting Confederations (IPSC) World Championship held in Rhodes, Greece in October.
Vogel has become one of the worldâs best shooters, attaining the highest designation as a grand master, on the six-level hierarchy in the sport.
Standing on the podium hearing the Star Spangled Banner in Greece in October a day after his 30th birthday let his accomplishment sink in.
âIâd pretty much been working for 10 years for that day,â Vogel said. âItâs the ultimate, pretty much the Olympics for practical shooting.â
Vogel has more than 60 major match wins on his resume and shows no signs of slowing down in the sport of practical shooting.
Participants in the sport fire practical full power handguns at a variety of targets in a number of scenarios that are always different in the competition. More than 50,000 people around the world compete in the sport that picked up popularity in the 1970s.
Vogel began hunting with a shotgun at age nine and worked with a handgun beginning at age 15.
âI was fascinated by Westerns as a kid,â Vogel said. âSo that really got me interested in that sort of culture. I had a love for guns.â
Vogel quickly realized in his teens his natural ability at shooting and when he entered school to be a police officer after high school, he began entering competitions.
He didnât win his first competition in Findlay 10 years ago, but he finished near the top. Heâs been hooked on the sport since, rising to heights only a few in the world can claim.
Vogel won his first national championship in 2007.
Vogel said many people unfamiliar with the sport assume he stands in one place and shoots at static targets in a contest of accuracy. Instead the sport matches shooters who are all amazingly accurate. Most of the competitions come down to just how fast a competitor can finish.
âItâs all about speed,â Vogel said. âItâs like running your gun like a race car.â
Targets are often moving and require the shooter to move as well. Scoring is a balance of accuracy and speed and each figure equally into the equation. At times top shooters are firing five or six shots on numerous targets inside a single second.
While many times Hollywood doesnât accurately portray skills with a firearm correctly on the silver screen, Vogel recently worked with some televisions shows that are faithful to the techniques of world-class shooting.
Vogel flew to California this year to tape two different television shows for the History Channel. Most notably he was an expert on the glock for the popular History Channel show, âTop Shotsâ for an episode that will air this spring.
Vogel said the process of filming just a single shot in super-slow motion for the show is a tedious but necessary process.
âPeople donât realize all the work it takes for them to produce one of those shows,â Vogel said. âPeople just think they go out there and take a few shots. It took hours between each shot with a crew of 15 guys on that slow-motion camera. But they have to do it to get those shots.â
While continuing to be a full-time officer for the Kenton Police Department, working nightly second shift patrols, Vogel also trains others who want to improve on their shooting ability.
âOnly five percent of the competitors in practical shooting are law enforcement,â Vogel said. âThose other guys usually have jobs that allow them to practice all the time or are independently wealthy.â
âItâs mostly about fundamentals of holding a gun and techniques and then itâs all about the mental part,â Vogel said.
Vogel said his work as an instructor, making DVD instructionals and prize money from practical shooting events make him think he may go that route full-time in the future. Vogel maintains a website, www.vogelshootist.com, where he sells his instructional videos and lessons.
Vogel uses almost every once of his vacation days to travel to national and international events.
âI take pride in that what I do helps me as a police officer, as well,â Vogel said.
Heâs picked up sponsorships that pay for most of his ammunition and shooting accouterments as heâs moved up in the sport.
Vogel uses Glock style handguns in competition since 2006, saying that heâs proud that the same style gun he uses on the force is what he uses in competition.
The season for Vogel has largely wrapped up and will resume in the spring when the weather warms up. He said he usually travels to 12-14 major events a year. Shooting at the state or local level âreally doesnât do much good for me,â Vogel said.