I recently interviewed Gianni Giordano, asking him about the struggles of being a young competitive shooter in a largely anti-2A world. He impressed me with not only well-considered responses, but also his well-roundedness. This 19-year-old not only claimed the USPSA National Junior Limited National Championship six times and classified as a Grand Master in Limited division at age 15, but was a straight-A/Honor Roll student through high school on top of being an entrepreneur and helping run his family’s farm in Nevada. Most recently, he claimed the 2023 Standard Division IPSC National Championship!
Gianni’s first gun was a single-shot .22LR. Aided by his dad, three-year-old Gianni happily knocked down aluminum cans. Six years later, Gianni attended a man-on-man steel shoot and won his class with a borrowed pistol. This experience left the young man wanting to learn more.
He began attending the Gibson family’s MGM Junior Camp, learning from the best in USPSA. “It was a huge opportunity to have instruction from the best and then be able to go home and try to work on those basic skills,” he said. (Eddie Garcia, Max Michel, Manny Bragg, Shannon Smith and Travis Tomasie were among the talented instructors.)
“Traveling to the matches and competing and squadding with shooters a lot better than me is how I learned to compete and progress my skills,” he continued. I learned so much from watching how the professionals shot the stages, got ready for the stages, etc.”
Now a decade into competition, Gianni has had multiple area wins and national titles. Growing older has also brought new responsibilities. “I had to try to juggle school, our family farm and my own company that I started at 15. Our farm requires a lot of time, my family works our own land, so we all work together. Shooting is not at the top of the list most of the time.”
Gianni also runs Range Panda, a company specializing in the shooting sports and accessories, with fellow competitor Eric Steiner. At age 15, instead of a car, Gianni bought a CNC machine. He was already well along, having learned to weld when he was seven, run a plasma table at 10, and work with 3-D printers and CNC at 15.
“So, with all of that said, it is hard to always be prepared for some of these matches,” he said. “Sometimes, I have to go to these big matches and be okay with not being prepared, and do the best that I can.” Gianni’s accomplishments indicate that his best is pretty good indeed, especially considering all of his other activities, and his sponsors see that. He represents Berry’s Bullets, Starline Brass, Infinity Firearms, Hunters HD Gold, Dominate Defense, Hawktech Arms, House of Hearing and, of course, Range Panda.
“My first sponsor at 10 years old was Berry’s Bullets. Then I picked up Starline Brass. Both of these companies took faith in me and supported me as a junior shooter. It was a big deal! Not only for my parents to have some help with the financial side but from a community perspective they were very supportive… Justin Taylor [of Berry’s Bullets] comes to the matches and watches me. I couldn’t have made it this far without their support. It is huge of them giving juniors a chance.”
Now 19, Gianni recognizes the need for young shooters and just how much of an impact companies like Berry’s Bullets and Starline Brass have had on his life. “If we don’t support and encourage juniors our sport will not last,” he said. “Also, I think it is important for the older generation to teach the younger generations so we may continue the sport in the proper direction. Being a sponsored competitive shooter has allowed me to educate many who don’t understand the sport,” Gianni explained.
“The responsibility that comes with this is huge and when people see me at my age having this responsibility and handling firearms with respect, [it] opens their eyes. It is possible with education and familiarity that people can be safe. We prove it daily when we compete.”
Though he may better relate to the younger generation, Gianni encourages new competitors of any age to set their own goals for the experience. “Start small and gain a good foundation to your shooting skills. Don’t worry about what others are doing, set your goals based on your time available to train, etc. The biggest way to learn and excel is to go to bigger matches and watch others. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. The experience of bigger matches, meeting shooters gives you some information to build and practice on. Being open to suggestions but also being ok with certain things not working for you personally is ok. Don’t be afraid to train on things that don’t come easy to you. Most importantly, enjoy shooting and meeting new competitors.”
This is advice Gianni has offered in person to a number of shooters, as the MGM Camp taught him to Pay it Forward, and it’s his time to give back. “I have made many contacts within the sport that have helped me outside of it,” Gianni said. “Growing as a person to take time to help others on and off the range is a huge part. I think that is important to help new shooters, young or old. Especially when you become known to others, it is so important to make yourself available for questions. Questions may be about stage plans, gear or how to handle the pressure. It is intimidating as a young shooter or even a new shooter sometimes to be around people that you see on TV or people you know are national champions.
“It is a nice encouragement to have accomplished people take the time. I have had so many people help me through the years. Whether they were small suggestions or big lessons, it has all help me get to where I am in my shooting. People helping me with my stage plans or breaking down why they shoot certain targets in certain orders, or mental suggestions. It has all helped mold my shooting skills.”
Gianni’s drive, tenacity and willingness to help others are especially admirable. It’s not just the wins that make him stand out. Even when he is tired from working long hours and may not be the favorite to win, Gianni still shows up to compete, learn and help other shooters. Gianni’s future plans include working on his family farm and building his business, all while training to hopefully make Team USA for the 2025 IPSC World Shoot. He also somehow fits hunting, fishing and riding motorcycles into his schedule!