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A Conversation with Tim Bradley

A Conversation with...

“Tim Bradley is the most amazing shooter in the world today.” Those are the words of the famous Tom Knapp and if you’ve ever seen Tim shoot, as I have, I’m sure that you’ll agree.

He is truly an amazing shooter with any firearm he chooses to shoot. He shoots with his left hand or his right hand and seemingly with such ease and confidence, that I wanted to know more about him and what has made him both the man and the shooter that he is today.

To give you a little background information, Tim grew up on a farm, started shooting early in life and has been an avid hunter, trapper and outdoorsman as long as he can remember. He is not however a one-dimensional person. He also earned a black belt in karate when he was only 17 years old! Is a picture starting to form here?

To say that Tim likes challenges would be a gross understatement. Along the way to becoming a professional shooter, he pursued a career as a bounty hunter. You really would not want to even think about a shoot-out with this guy.

When you read about Tim’s history and his determination, you might picture a man not easy to talk to and who was keeping his eye on you, trying to remember if he’d seen you on a wanted poster at one time or another. Maybe a cross between Steve McQueen, on “Wanted Dead or Alive” and "Dog" the Bounty Hunter. Instead, you’ll find a very cordial man, modest, very willing to share information and with a great sense of humor.

Tim was kind enough recently to share some time with me and answer a few questions. I think his very first statement was very telling!

"Clark, I think it’s very important for everyone to know, I’m just a guy from Arkansas that likes to shoot, probably not any different than your neighbor."

CB: How do you select a shotgun? What are the most important features?

TB: It all depends on what will the gun be used for and if it be my primary gun or just a gun I want…just because I want a new gun.
If it’s my primary gun, I want to know it will work when I need it to, I want it to be comfortable because I’m going to shoot it a lot. I want a gun I can buy accessories for to make it more versatile. I want at least a 26” barrel for dove and duck. Last but not least I want a black gun. A number of hunters around the country lay down their guns after a shot and some don't ever find them. I don’t want to go home and tell my wife and friends, I LOST MY GUN.!

CB: What advice would you give to a beginning shooter?

1. Learn to shoot with both eyes open
2. Do not lay your head on the stock; bring your gun to your head not your head to the gun.
3. You can adjust to a short LOP you can not adjust a LOP which is to long.
4. If you want to be a good shooter, there is no substitute for trigger time.

CB: Do you “warm-up” prior to shooting?

T.B.: No, I don't warm up prior to shooting. Usually I shoot best when I first begin shooting.

CB: Would you discuss the importance of hearing protection and what you use?

T.B: Hearing protection can never be stressed enough. It’s very simple if you don’t have hearing protection you don’t shoot. Because of the way I shoot, different positions, etc. I use protection which goes in the ear. I feel over the ear may offer better protection and when my son begins to shoot that is what he will use.

CB: How would you relate skill, practice and talent in importance in being a good shooter?

TB: Basic skill is where it all begins, without a base it takes a long time to build anything.
Practice is important, but you must have a desire to shoot or practice is not enough.
Talent is a distant third, once you have basic skills, desire, which will produce the practice, the talent will come on its own.

CB: Did you or do you have a mentor? Who has helped you or inspired you most to shoot?

TB: I was never fortunate enough to have a mentor. Most of my life I shot alone or with a very select few people, for no other reason than I was a little shy. My inspiration came late in life after I began Bounty Hunting and practicing, just in case. Too many people would tell me what I could and couldn't do with a gun. My inspiration came from these people. Never tell someone they can’t do something.
Tom Knapp has been more help to me than anyone as far as shooting. Tom didn’t teach me to shoot but he did teach me how to talk to a crowd while I was doing it.

CB: The World Shooting Complex was recently completed in Sparta, Illinois. What makes a great shooting facility?

TB: Only one thing; the people running it!

CB: Have you considered making a Benelli-Cam DVD for dove duck, quail, pheasant, goose, etc. so that the average wing shooter can see how much lead you put on birds and see your actual sight picture when you squeeze the trigger?

TB: No, I haven’t. Tom Knapp has a lifetime of Benelli-Cam footage. When I want to know what I’m doing wrong I just call him.

CB: Since keen vision is very important to shooting, is there anything that you recommend or that you've done to improve your vision?

TB: LASIK, I had lasik a couple years ago and it has been great for me.

CB: Do weather conditions such as humidity etc. effect your shooting? Do you change chokes, loads, etc. with different weather conditions?

TB: I’m pretty basic when it comes to my shooting. I will shoot whatever is available as long as it will get the job done. I pay no attention to the weather.

CB: Do you find it necessary to control your emotions for a big shoot in front of a large crowd or television cameras? If so, what do you do to
calm yourself control you heart rate...your breathing?

TB: When I first began shooting in front of a crowd, I though I would go into cardiac arrest!
Now I still get a little nervous but realize everyone is there to have a good time and these people came to see me shoot. My biggest concern now is for them to go away happy that they came to the show.
I also realize that the camera guy is there to make me look good, and that he is used to doing takes over, and over, and over, and over. It's not so bad.

CB: Is there some mental checklist that you run through prior to a shoot?

TB: Only when I’m shooting seven targets and up.

CB: Do you hunt turkeys?

TB: Yes I do and fortunately I have a few friends that are top notch turkey hunters.

CB: What barrel length, shot size and choke size to you use when you hunt turkeys?

TB: I like a 26 or 28 in barrel, because that is what I shoot most of the time.
I like to shoot #6 shot because of the pattern it I get from it. Turkey hunting is one place where a good choke is worth the price. If you need an extra 5 or 10 yards, when an old Tom just won’t come in, it's nice to know you can reach out and touch him.

CB: How do you feel about the use of steel shot for waterfowl?

TB: Steel shot has come a long way in the past few years, I think a lot of it will compare with lead or close to it. If everyone would forget about lead shot, which will happen when the kids that never shot ducks with lead take over, everyone would be much happier.

CB: You seem to be able to shoot any type of gun. What type of gun do you prefer to shoot, just for fun?

TB: That's a very tough question for me. Whenever I have a gun in my hand, it doesn’t matter what it is, even if it's a Red Ryder BB gun, I’m pretty content.

CB: Thanks Tim. I know our readers will enjoy hearing your tips and observations on shooting. We'll be following you career and looking for you in those Benelli commercials.
Now, do you think you could just tell me how to put a few more #6 pellets in that 3" circle?

TB: Good night Clark.

CB: Good night Tim.

Tim Bradley is a busy fellow these days. In 2006 he joined "Team Benelli" as an exhibition shooter along with Tom Knapp. He travels the country representing both Benelli and the shooting sports very well. He's a great ambassador for all of us.

You can learn more about Tim Bradley, see videos of his shooting skills and see his exhibition shooting schedule by visiting his web site

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