September 24, 2010
Many professional shooters have espoused the benefits of practicing with .22s as an inexpensive alternative. Blake Miguez doesn't just recommend that; he lived it.
"My dad and my uncle went to a sporting goods store that was going out of business," Miguez remembers of his childhood in southern Louisiana, "and they bought all their .22 rounds, roughly a quarter-million rounds, which they split. By the time I was a teenager we only had 18,000 rounds left, so I shot over 100,000 .22 rounds as a kid."
He burned up most of those plinking with a Smith & Wesson Model 41, but that's a far cry from competitive shooting. It wasn't until his father was exposed to IPSC shooting at a range in Baton Rouge that the ball got rolling, and at 12 1/2 years old, Blake became a competitor.
"I started with a Beretta 92F with a compensator on it," he says. "At the time I was hardly strong enough to hold up the gun. I kept limp-wristing it and having a lot of malfunctions. After a year my dad let me shoot his STI Open Division gun, my arms got stronger, and I was able to work my way up through the ranks."
Blake doesn't have problems with weak arms any more, as anyone who has met him can attest. "I started lifting weights in college, and I try to work out three to five times a week. There have been instances in shooting where being in excellent shape helped out. Whenever there's a lot of run and gun, I notice how I'm able to shave some time off. Generally, though, for shooting sports you don't have to be in great physical shape. I do think that being in shape will give me longevity in my shooting career."
Blake grew up with world champion Max Michel Jr., and he and Max—along with their fathers—traveled to the 1997 USPSA National Championships together, where Blake finished first Master, 17th overall.
"After the match they had shootoffs, and my first run was up against Todd Jarrett, who I believe was national champion that year. It was the best two out of three runs, and right out of the holster I smoked him on the first run. I couldn't believe it; I beat one of the best shooters ever. And then I got so nervous he just wiped me out, I missed every shot the next run. I still remember that feeling of winning, though."
Since then Blake has won innumerable regional matches, several national titles and competed on three IPSC World Shoot teams. "At the 2008 World Shoot in Bali I was winning by an enormous amount of points for the first four days, and the last day I had some penalties that cost me the match," he says.
While he finished second in Standard Division, he doesn't consider that a bad finish since he'd just graduated from law school a month before and was able to train for only three weeks before the match.
You read that right, folks—law school. "I'm unique in the shooting world," Blake explains. "I'm a licensed attorney in Louisiana, but my normal day job is running Iberia Marine Services, an offshore work boat company started by my father 35 years ago. I'm vice president, and my law degree comes in when reading contracts for the company and doing different real estate transactions."
Blake has many shooting sponsors, but his commitment to the family business has to come first. Shooting for a living might sound romantic, but it's hard to make a living at it, and he is a realist.
"I'm out there to win and meet personal shooting goals," he says. "I'm looking forward to the next World Shoot in Greece and to do better than I did last time—and there's only one thing better than second place."