The King of Shooting Coats Talks Guns, Dirt Bikes, and Youth Shooters
Position: General Manager – Creedmoor Sports
- Bronze Medal – Junior Olympics
- National Champion Team – Sub-Junior 4 Position
- 4x Collegiate Conference Champion
- Smallbore All American
- 3rd in Smallbore 2015 NCAA Championship – Team Category
Discipline of Choice: USPSA, Service Rifle, Prone Smallbore, Field Target (Air Rifle)
Favorite Malt Beverage: Yuengling
A Staple of the Service Rifle Community
While most of my time is spent shooting in local PRS matches, I still try to dabble in CMP Games matches once or twice a year. For the last four or five years I would spend a week out at Camp Perry for the “Wood Gun” week, shooting the Garand and Springfield matches with a few friends and my father. One of the main attractions of the Camp Perry experience is Commercial Row, where vendors from across the High Power and Service Rifle community set up shop from July to August to service shooters across the discipline. If you’re looking for parts, accessories, reloading components, or virtually anything else pertaining to the sport, you’ll be able to find it there!
If you browse through Commercial Row, odds are you’ll be able to find Brent Books. Hidden among rows of shooting coats, Polecat spotting scope stands, and bins of slings, Brent spends a month or more making his temporary residence in Port Clinton, Ohio. There is no question why this trip is worth his while. Each time you step up to the firing line and look around, and you’ll find a sea of shooters adorned in Creedmoor Hardback Coats sitting on Creedmoor shooting stools next to Creedmoor shooting mats, pulling their 167 gr. Creedmoor Sports .30-06 cartridges from their leather Creedmoor Sports box holders. In short, the most dominant shooters competing in the Camp Perry National Matches are most likely using a bunch of Creedmoor Sports products!
A Visit To Anniston
Rather than attending the National Matches at Camp Perry this summer, I elected to make the trip down to Anniston to pay Brent a visit. It just so happens the Talladega D-Day Matches were scheduled to happen that same weekend, so I brought my M1 along to shoot the John C. Garand Match.
Brent generously hosted us (the trip was also a Father’s Day gift for my old man), so we spent a few nights enjoying a Yuengling or two sharing stories of past trade shows, shooting matches, and other such nonsense. I knew of Brent’s background at Creedmoor Sports (we shared a booth at NRAAM a few years back when he first started working for the company), but I didn’t know much about his background. As with most of my friends in the firearm industry, there was an interesting story behind the path that led him to his current position.
Hitting the Ground Running in Competitive Marksmanship
Brent started his competitive shooting career early. Really early. By the age of 6, he was plinking targets with a .22LR Winchester pump action gallery gun. Tube fed, it held 15 rounds of cast lead squirrel slaying goodness, and the hook was set for Brent’s competitive rifle career.
His first match was shot at eight years old. His first national smallbore competition took place at the age of 11. By the time Brent reached High School the list of accolades started piling up. Most kids his age received participation trophies for playing baseball or soccer. Brent’s trophies were earned by dominating in smallbore competition.
By his college years, Brent’s Jackson State University smallbore team was winning conference championships and placing at the NCAA Championships year after year. Each of the shooters trained each day, sending tens of thousands of rounds through their custom Anschutz rifles each year.
By the end of his college career Brent moved on from competition to coaching at his alma mater, as his unorthodox shooting position causes chronic lower back issues to this day. During our interview he encouraged me to include some advice for younger shooters looking to get into small bore or air rifle competition.
“It’s important to learn proper position so you don’t have problems later in life. Football players aren’t the only collegiate athletes who suffer permanent injury due to competition.”
Moving up the Corporate Ladder at Creedmoor Sports
While coaching at Jackson State University, Brent contacted Creedmoor Sports with a few technical questions regarding his Anschutz rifle, but they had nobody on staff with the knowledge to answer them. At that time everyone at Creedmoor Sports was a Service Rifle shooter, so it was immediately apparent that a knowledge gap existed on their team.
After a little more conversation Dennis DeMille (a world renown service rifle competitor and Brent’s predecessor as Creedmoor Sports’ General Manager) hired Brent on as a part time intern. While still coaching for JSU, had to balance coaching, his position at Creedmoor Sports, and his college classes. During the summer when school was out, Brent would take up residence in Dennis’ guest house, where he would spend his off-hours sitting on the porch with Dennis learning the ins and outs of the firearm industry, service rifle competition, best business practices, and the role Creedmoor Sports has played in supporting the shooting community.
A full-time job as Sales and Marketing Manager was soon offered to Brent, who then made Anniston his full-time home (aside from a couple of months each summer that he spends at Camp Perry). A few years passed in this role, and eventually Dennis relocated to a different company, passing the torch on to Brent to take on the General Manager position.
Creedmoor Sports Expanding Services and Customer Base
Since taking this position, Brent has worked hard to diversify the Creedmoor Sports line of products. The company features an expanded online presence, enabling them to service shooters ranging in skill from children shooting in 4H events to world class Olympic competitors. The company has begun to carry a wider selection of cleaning and reloading supplies, and has begun to dabble in products tailored for PRS shooters and competitors of other rifle disciplines.
One of Brent’s favorite aspects of working for Creedmoor Sports is the variety of industry partners he enjoys working with. Folks like Bill Gravatt, Geoff Esterline, and a long list of others from Capstone Precision Group (the company that owns Berger, Lapua, and VihtaVuori), Todd House of Krieger Barrels, and Amanda Stice from Starline Brass are all friends who Brent makes an effort to visit during events and competitions.
This expansion in products and services has served to improve pre-existing product lines as well. The newly developed Deluxe Hardback Coat includes elements that have long been popular in International Coat design. Spandex in the arms holds the coat tighter to the shooter, allowing the body pad to remain in contact with the back of the arm.
Brent had their tailor create 20 different prototypes with all of the different design revisions incorporated into the jacket design. Creedmoor was fairly hesitant of these changes, but once Dennis tried on the finished product he was impressed. It was, as Dennis put it, “The most comfortable and supportive coat I’ve ever worn.”
A little known fact about Creedmoor Sports is that they offer a remarkable level of customization for all soft goods. That doesn’t just pertain to shooting coats. Their shooting mats can be tailored to different positions or rear bag requirements for F-Class shooters, and their shooting bags can be designed to accommodate different buttstocks or unique stock forend dimensions.
Brent Books: Supporter of the Competitive Shooting Community
Although Brent has a background primarily as a small bore shooter, his interests extend far beyond that community. A voracious dirt bike racer, enduro/mountain biker, and a competitor in over a half dozen different shooting leagues, Brent has plenty to keep him busy.
A shared goal both Brent and I have pertains to the expansion of youth shooting sports, a topic in which he can provide plenty of first hand experience. If you know of any young shooters interested in getting involved in the collegiate shooting sports, I’d highly recommend giving Brent a call.
If your youth shooter is interested in competing and getting the attention of collegiate coaches, Brent recommends getting shooters actively involved in both small bore and precision air rifle competitions at the following venues: