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Preview – Zeroed In – Mark Christopher Lawrence

Photography by Henry Z. De Kuyper

Stand-Up Shooter
Multi-Talented and Larger Than Life, Mark Christopher Lawrence Met Up with RECOIL to Shoot Down a Few Hollywood Stereotypes

All the world’s a stage for Mark Christopher Lawrence. Not just in the existential, Shakespearean sense. The phrase is actually true in his case, as this talented veteran actor has used his natural gifts to become a versatile entertainer in every medium he’s tackled.

Mark’s unique abilities and incredible range have allowed him to share a movie set with the likes of Will Smith, hold court on a top-rated hit television show on NBC, take lead-actor honors in venerable playhouse hits like A Raisin In The Sun, and pack houses with his stand-up routines at The Comedy Store and The House of Blues. He’s even organized comedy shows at a gun range — yep, you read that right, a gun range. In addition to his artistic endeavors, Mark is also a competitive shooter and firearms enthusiast.

More recently, he put in performances of the gun variety at several shooting events, including the Bianchi Cup. His passion for firearms is certainly no act. “I caught the bug and feel like I can be in the medals if I keep practicing,” he says with a smile regarding his experience at the Bianchi Cup. He continues on while giving us a tour of his local range, P2K Range in El Cajon, California. “I dry-fire every day and give myself a practice schedule, like when I used to play football — I’d put myself on a regimen before we even practiced as a team. As the event gets closer, I will integrate all of the individual workouts into a comprehensive course. I want to win; I’m really competitive.”

RECOIL: How do you prepare for a role as an actor? What goes into the process?

Mark Christopher Lawrence: The first thing I do is look at what are known as the “parentheticals” in a script, and I scratch them out. Those are the parts of the script in parentheses that tell the actor what physical reactions are called for among the lines. Some directors hate that, but I feel that I need to discover the mannerisms as a character on my own. I think my job as an actor is to control my character’s journey and help to bring it to life. I like to prepare, but only to a point, as I think over-preparation doesn’t allow me to achieve the authenticity I prefer in my characters.

That’s quite a departure from the world of competitive shooting, where preparation is paramount for success. How did you adjust?

MCL: [Laughs.] Yeah, it’s a totally different world. Being a natural competitor and athlete, I have a need from within to do well, so practice is no problem for me. I’m used to pushing myself, and I do tend to pick stuff up quicker than most do. Obviously having some degree of early success helps anyone to want to get better, and to watch your growth exponentially get better as you seek the education and tools you need is even better. I understand that the more I practice as a shooter, the better I can be, and on a quicker curve as well. Last year was the first year I shot with a pistol for any consistent length of time as I prepared for the Bianchi Cup, and I found that I really liked it and I did much better this year than I did last year.

How did you get introduced to the world of competitive shooting?

MCL: Patrick Kilpatrick is an actor and he did a celebrity competitive shooting event called The Hollywood Celebrity Sporting Clays, and he invited me to attend. I literally went to P2K Range every day for the next two months. I didn’t want to embarrass myself at the event, plus they enticed me with roasted boar. [Laughs.]

All I had was a tactical Mossberg, and I took it to the range and I think I hit maybe two the whole first night. My friend John was out learning with me and there was a kid next to us — barely taller than the speakers — hitting 22 out of 25! That only made us more determined to get better. Thankfully, a range regular saw that I was looking more down the side of the barrel and helped me to get some metrics on sight acquisition. I went back out and immediately hit 15 out of 25 and that’s with the tactical! [Laughs.]

After two months of practicing at least three times a week and having to use a different gun at every station, I still shot about 48 percent overall in the competition. That’s not too bad for a first time out and having to use a different gun at every station. I decided to get a gun of my own and to keep working at it.

For the rest of this article, subscribe digitally here: RECOIL Issue 9

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