Preview – Zeroed In – Iain Harrison
Former British Army Captain Iain Harrison is no stranger to finding his target. After serving as a reconnaissance platoon commander in the United Kingdom and winning the inaugural season of The History Channel’s Top Shot, it’s safe to say that his marksmanship is undeniable. Now he’s setting his sights on a new mission: Steering the ship as RECOIL Magazine’s new editor.
Visibility within the shooting industry is a hot commodity. Whether behind our scopes or within the crosshairs of mainstream societal awareness, this visibility comes with a price and a responsibility; especially when it’s earned through accomplishment.
Serving for eight years as a British Army captain and winning the inaugural season of The History’s Channel’s Top Shot would be more than fitting prerequisites to place any shooter on the proverbial map. However, the one man who can lay claim to both is certainly not defined by these ranks. Marksmanship may be at the forefront of industry insiders’ minds when the name Iain Harrison comes up, but to define the man solely along those terms would be to do him a great disservice.
Few in our industry have made the sacrifices he has regarding his passion for firearms ownership or understand just how vital a role the Second Amendment plays in society. His sacrifices include leaving his native land to become a U.S. citizen after a civilian ban on firearms in Britain threatened his very lifestyle and love for the shooting sports. His latest challenge as the new editor of RECOIL Magazine finds him wholly committed to making sure that the same stifling restrictions are not leveled within this country and that our Second Amendment rights are preserved through actively educating owners and non-owners alike about the freedoms we enjoy.
“With the magazine, we have the chance to be accepted not only by the tried-and-true shooters out there, but also by a much younger demographic; and that readership is pretty much the future of firearm owners in the United States,” states Harrison on a brisk winter’s morning at Ben Avery Shooting Complex in North Phoenix. “Throughout my years in the service and also as a competitive shooter, I’ve met so many diverse people; individuals whom most people would consider to be the most ‘non-traditional’ gun owners imaginable. Regardless of fitting in with the traditional or stereotypical gun owner’s profile, it is only as a unified collective of firearms owners that we can effectively stand up for our rights provided through the Second Amendment.”
Despite the gravity of that conversation, Iain’s passion for shooting sports remains as pure as it did the day he first picked up a rifle as a child. His eyes light up and his personable demeanor bubbles with insight and humor as the topics of our conversation bounce around everything from training tactics to competition styles and techniques. “Right now I’m running Open Division equipment, and it’s the most fun you can have with your clothes on,” Iain admits with a laugh. “It’s like death metal — it’s all about the speed.”
They say familiarity breeds contempt, but for this well-seasoned shooter, competition is certainly Iain’s best friend. He is actively participating in 3-gun tournaments on a regular basis, and excelling at them is one of the motivations behind his recent relocation to the Arizona desert. His humility also led him to the area, as he is committed to improving upon his already impressive skill set by shooting with the best as often as he can. He credits Arizona as being the hub for shooting sports in the United States, and while some would think that winning Top Shot would be a plateau for success, Iain maintains that he is just beginning an upward climb to self-fulfillment within the arena. “You simply don’t get better unless you are shooting against people who are better than you,” he says coolly. “The quality of competition here in Arizona is phenomenal.”
Whether he’s logging time on the range or laboring within the public domain, Iain’s experiences in life have definitely given him the moxie and determination it takes to achieve any goals he sets his mind to. After helming PR efforts for industry stalwart Crimson Trace Corporation [CTC] for the past two years, this skilled marksman knows the seriousness of his latest mission — educating people about and preserving our constitutional right to keep and bear arms in the United States through his efforts as RECOIL editor. Taking aim at this agenda will certainly be no small feat, but after an afternoon discussion with him, you will undoubtedly agree with our assessment that he is the best man for the job.
RECOIL Magazine: How were you introduced to gun culture?
Iain Harrison: I was your typical suburban kid growing up; I lived in the northeast of England. My parents, along with my aunt and uncle, had a weekend place on a working farm, so I was introduced to shooting because guns were around on the farm. I was hooked pretty instantly.
Tell me about your service in the British Army? What were some of the platforms you were exposed to and trained in?
IH: I served for eight years after being commissioned, and I bounced back and forth between both regular and reserve service before making it to captain. As an infantry officer, your rifle is pretty much glued to you. The SA80 or L85A1 was what I used primarily. A lot of people gave it a bad rap, but it always went bang when I needed it to. A lot of the criticism against that weapon was leveled by people who either didn’t have any experience with it or maybe picked it up and didn’t know how to run it. Of course, like any weapon system, it has its own drawbacks and shortcomings. The flipside of that would be the M4 platform, which is by all means not perfect in its own right.
What would you say is the most valuable lesson you took away from your military service in England?
IH: The most valuable experience I gained was to learn that what is portrayed in the media is not necessarily true. I served in the Balkans, and there was a mentality where the media wanted to see things in black and white and have a clear set of good guys and a clear set of bad guys to fit their narrative, but that wasn’t the case. In many ways all sides could be considered “bad guys” during that conflict.
Do you think that lesson applies to the U.S. mainstream media in its portrayal of firearm ownership in this country?
IH: Sure. Right now we have a huge challenge to the Second Amendment rights in this country and I want to make sure that the gospel is spread regarding it; let’s not go down the road that we’ve seen in so many other countries where people have surrendered their rights to firearms without a fight. If we want to have a conversation about firearm ownership in the U.S., then let’s make it a conversation rather than shouting at each other. I think it’s ideal that we start engaging people on a one-to-one level because then group-think can’t take over. When that happens, you start to define people as “the other” and once you do that, it’s easy to go one step further and define them as the enemy. There’s so much common ground between all groups of gun owners that we need to be unified in our stance on preserving Second Amendment rights in this country.
For the rest of this article, subscribe digitally here: RECOIL Issue 6