Most entries to competition happen by “accident.” Connor Knapp was 10 years old when he heard fast shooting coming from another range at his hometown club, Daniel Boone Conservation League in Wisconsin. Just a year or so earlier, Connor’s father took him to the range to teach him firearm safety and basic gun handling. When he and his father went to investigate the noise, they discovered the Scholastic Action Shooting Program (SASP).
Connor learned by watching — both the professionals and beginners — taking note of strategies that worked and others that didn’t. Connor has been a member of the SASP National All-Scholastic Team for five years running, with a host of titles earned along the way. In 2019, Connor was the Wisconsin State SASP intermediate division rimfire pistol and pistol caliber carbine state champion. This performance earned him a spot on the Wisconsin All-State Pistol Team. He continued his momentum at the 2019 Nationals SASP Championship, earning the Intermediate Division National Championship in rimfire pistol and second place finishes in optic rifle, 1911 centerfire pistol and pistol caliber carbine (PCC). The Wisconsin All-State Pistol Team claimed the team gold medal.
In 2020, Connor competed as a member of the Wisconsin All-State Pistol and All-State Rifle team. He did the same in 2021 and 2022, but in the Jr. Varsity and Varsity divisions respectively. Connor was the 2022 and 2023 high overall champion in rifle and pistol at the Wisconsin State SASP match (Varsity and Senior Varsity Divisions).
Now 18 years old, Connor competes not only in SASP, where he holds most of his titles, but also in USPSA and RCSA (Rimfire Challenge Shooting Association). The 2021 World Speed Shooting Championship doubled as his first Steel Challenge match and he claimed first in U class in rimfire rifle open, rimfire pistol open, pistol caliber carbine open and rimfire rifle iron. Last year, he claimed sixth in the limited division at RSCA Worlds in addition to being on the National Champion Open Division Teams for PCC and Rimfire Pistol Optics. Individually, he placed second in pistol caliber carbine at the 2023 National SASP Championship. He’s also starting into PRS and long-range rifle while in addition to shooting for the University of Arizona Wildgats (not a typo, but a clever pun).
Connor shoots for Ruger, Vortex, Volquartsen, Hunters HD Gold, Metal Madness and MJ Gunsmithing, and attributes much of his success to his equipment. However, Connor also has a few rituals of his own. “I adhere to a personal ritual of eating McDonald's before each competition, a practice I've maintained consistently,” he said. “Eating two McGriddles, one before and one during the event, has become integral to my routine. Ensuring I have access to suitable snacks is also essential, as maintaining my energy levels is critical for my mental focus and overall attitude during competitions.”
Besides the importance of nutrition, marksmanship and the shooting sports have taught Connor two pivotal life lessons.
“Firstly, I've learned the importance of restraint, particularly in understanding when not to act. This concept of trigger discipline extends beyond the range; it's about recognizing moments in life when it's prudent to hold back, even when the opportunity to act is present. It's a lesson in evaluating situations, trusting one's instincts, and making decisions prioritizing safety and well-being for all involved.
Secondly, the value of universal respect and kindness has been a significant takeaway. In shooting sports, camaraderie and support are fundamental, and this principle of assisting and respecting every individual, regardless of their role or relationship, has been deeply ingrained. These principles of thoughtful decision-making and universal respect, learned through shooting sports, have become integral to my personal and professional character.”
Clearly well-spoken, Connor is currently studying aerospace engineering at the University of Arizona. He aspires to work for a large company like Boeing or Lockheed Martin. He also is happily considering an engineering career in the firearms industry, specifically for Ruger.