Preview – Debrief – Ken Pfau FNH USA
Photography by Jorge Nuñez
The Depths of Experience
Ken Pfau Thrives in High-Pressure Scenarios Where There is Truly No Room for Error — From Deep-Sea Diving to Competitive Shooting to Being Senior Vice President of FNH USA’s Commercial Sales
It’s universally agreed that life’s best teacher is experience. Experience forces us to learn, adapt, and act. Oftentimes, experience in one area of life can be directly applied to another, so long as our mind remains open and receptive. And when combined with vision, experience compounds on itself to provide an ever-stronger foundation to do more, to do better, to do right.
Ken Pfau knows this lesson all too well and has embraced it not only in competition as the founding member of Team FNH USA, but also in the corporate world as the senior vice president for FNH USA’s commercial sales. Vision and experience are also key in another one of his passions: diving. Pfau (pronounced “Fow”) is an accomplished technical diver and instructor. The skill and knowledge needed at 300 feet below the earth’s surface has informed his life on land, as well.
“Diving has taught me a lot about business, and it really taught me a lot about the importance of detail,” Ken says during a recent trip to Los Angeles from his home base of Virginia. “I’ve lost friends to diving accidents, and at those levels complacency can kill you. It’s never one small thing or oversight; it’s a cascading series of events which, in many cases, could have been avoided through preparation.”
Understanding the virtues of being prepared is the seed that has sprouted Ken’s orchard of opportunities in life, and he reaps the benefits of it through a lifestyle that blends his passions perfectly.
ZEROED Magazine: How did you first become interested in firearms?
Ken Pfau: I lived in Thailand for a year during college, where I was an exchange student. That was an interesting time to be there — 1979, when Pol Pot was running things [next door in Cambodia]. The father of the exchange family I was living with was a competitive pistol shooter. That definitely got me curious.
When did you first take the plunge into firearms ownership and what was your motivation?
K.P.: I was in the car business and was a finance manager at a dealership in the early ’90s. I found myself leaving the dealership sometimes at 2 in the morning with $10,000 in the cash bag, and I decided that I wanted to take precautions to help ensure my safety. I went down to the local range and bought my first gun, a Walther P38. I started talking to the guys down there about shooting and quickly realized that if I was going to be safe, then I needed to be proficient. I started shooting competitively right after that just to improve my skills. I’ve still got the Walther in the back of my safe, along with my second gun, a Makarov, which never ran too well. [Laughs.]
Did shooting become your main hobby?
K.P.: It did. I tend to get really involved whenever I find a passion. I had to know everything about my platform, techniques, practicing styles, entering competitions — everything. It was the same way when I got into fly fishing. I started building my own rods, tying my own flies, and took courses from a guy who teaches how make Atlantic salmon flies in which you even count the number of wraps. I also love building vintage motorcycles. I’ve got a ’76 BMW that I wrench on when I can, but diving has really been my other love aside from competitive shooting.
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