Hot Shots Rob Leatham

Hot Shots Rob Leatham

We do not get to choose our own nicknames--at least not the ones that stick. Our nicknames are chosen for us. Rob Leatham's nickname is the Great One, and he did not pick it.

Over the last 30 years, between IDPA and IPSC shooting, the NRA Bianchi Cup, the Steel Challenge and the Single Stack Classic, Rob Leatham has won more than 56 national and five world championship titles using just about every type of handgun made.


To compete at the highest level of any sport, the will to win is at least as important as the skill needed to do so. "I think that I should win every single time I walk to the line because of the support I have, and the program that's in place for me that allows me to do what most of these guys don't get to do," Leatham, pro shooter for Springfield Armory says.


"I really, really believe I should win every single event I enter, and that's how I've always felt. And because of that, once I get on the line, whether I'm trying to prove anything or not, it's really a battle for me. I'm not shooting for my sponsors, or my family or to impress other people, it's really for me. Even now, what do I have to prove? I have to prove to me that I'm still good.

"I can't remember not shooting," Leatham says of his childhood. "My family, that's what we did on the weekends, we went shooting." Leatham likes to tell the story of how he rode his bike around, collecting wheelweights, which his late father, Nyle, then melted and cast into bullets for their revolvers.


Drive, natural talent and the will to win aside, Leatham knows he was as much a product of his lucky environment and timing as anything.


"My dad was a photojournalist for the Arizona Republic. Mike Dillon and my dad were buddies. We went up to Gunsite to do a story on this guy who was starting this shooting thing up there. We met Jeff Cooper and went out and shot on the range and that item right there that day probably made me more enthusiastic about shooting than anything I'd ever done. It was the first time I'd ever shot in front of anyone other than family, and I loved it--the showmanship and the desire to compete came out there.

"Shortly thereafter I shot a local tournament at the Mesa PD range--shooting revolvers, you know, because autos don't work," he added with a wink, "and from that point on all I ever cared about was shooting. I met Brian Enos, and we started shooting together and Mike Dillon started building loading machines--I was in the right place at the right time. I am a product of external opportunity."

Leatham shot .22s a lot as a kid and recommends them as a cheap practice alternative for those people who still have to pay for their own ammunition. "Airsoft is great for practice too," he adds. "I used to think it was a joke. Now I have a whole bunch of 'em. Airsoft guns are so good now that some of them will shoot an inch group at 10 yards. As far as learning the basic fundamentals of gun manipulation it's great. I think you can learn everything except recoil control shooting airsoft."

Even with a nearly unlimited sponsor-provided supply of ammunition, Leatham still dry-fires for practice. "I like to describe it more as playing with the guns," he explains. "I find it difficult to be at home and not have guns all over the place. I don't want them locked up in the safe, I want them out so I can play with them, because I think that's critical in having a basic familiarity with the guns, so when you draw it doesn't feel foreign to you."

Leatham has a unique perspective on competitive shooting and its relationship to self defense training. "Most studies on the defensive use of the handgun quote six to eight feet distance in a gunfight, and two to three shots. The things we do in competitive shooting are not realistic whatsoever. We've made it much harder, as far as the shooting ability needed, in order to make the test more difficult.

"All you learn in competition is the ability to work under stress, because the actual shooting that we're doing is so ridiculously hard compared to what is even remotely conceivable in an actual gunfight. That said, the average law enforcement officer doesn't shoot enough to be competent to the level that I think they should want to be. However, I find it difficult to judge them. They have so many other things to consider when they're working. All I have to do when I step to the line is think about the shooting."

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Kyle Lamb and Eric Poole talk SIG pistols

Kyle Lamb and Eric Poole talk SIG pistols

G&A Editor Eric Poole and Viking Tacticals's Kyle Lamb talks about 2 new pistols from SIG Sauer and a Lipsey's Special of the P365.

All About Handgun Ammo

All About Handgun Ammo

Rich and Jim get into the nitty gritty of the FBI ammo protocol, firing into various barriers to illustrate what can happen to a bullet.

Teaching New Shooters

Teaching New Shooters

Julie Golob of Team Smith & Wesson guest stars, joining Jim and Scott for a discussion of how best to introduce new shooters to the sport.

Dealing with Subcompacts

Dealing with Subcompacts

Jim and Rich cover the benefits and the challenges presented by very small pistols.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

In 1858 Beals invented and patented a spur-trigger, single-action, percussion revolver. The unique Revolvers

Remington Timeline: 1858 - Beals Revolver

Handguns Online Staff - September 09, 2016

In 1858 Beals invented and patented a spur-trigger, single-action, percussion revolver. The...

Kahr Arms officially broke ground on their new headquarters in Blooming Grove Township, in Pike Industry

Kahr Arms Breaks Ground on New Pennsylvania HQ

Handguns Online Staff - June 04, 2014

Kahr Arms officially broke ground on their new headquarters in Blooming Grove Township, in Pike

Guns are fun, and cheap guns are even more fun. Spend less on the firearm and more on ammo with these 10 low-priced pistols. Compact

10 Cheap Guns Under $250

Evan Brune - September 24, 2015

Guns are fun, and cheap guns are even more fun. Spend less on the firearm and more on ammo...

As you will learn in this detailed review, the Smith & Wesson M&P Shield EZ 380 (manufacturer SKU # 180023) is an easy-racking, soft-shooting pistol. Compact

Smith & Wesson M&P Shield EZ 380 Review

James Tarr - November 06, 2018

As you will learn in this detailed review, the Smith & Wesson M&P Shield EZ 380 (manufacturer...

See More Trending Articles

More Training

With today's threat of active shooters ever present, being able to shoot at distance can be an important skill. Similarly, the ability to hit a target when you're physically challenged could make a big difference in such a situation. Training

Skills Drill: Closing the Gap

J. Scott Rupp - July 03, 2020

With today's threat of active shooters ever present, being able to shoot at distance can be an...

In this article, Richard Nance examines multiple shooting positions for when an assailant is close enough to reach your gun and you can't use your sights. Training

When You Can't Use Your Sights, Aim With Your Body

Richard Nance - February 14, 2018

In this article, Richard Nance examines multiple shooting positions for when an assailant is...

This drill will help you improve your draw speed and target transitions—along with recoil mitigation, and sight picture and trigger control. Training

Improving Draw Speed and Target Transitions

Josh Froelich - August 01, 2019

This drill will help you improve your draw speed and target transitions—along with recoil...

If you're looking to add an element of fun to your next range day, consider these pop packs. Training

Bring Some Pop Packs To The Range

Richard Nance - July 26, 2018

If you're looking to add an element of fun to your next range day, consider these pop packs.

See More Training

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get Digital Access.

All Handguns subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now