OUTDOORS: Reality T.V. shooter makes good on free lesson

By: JOHN FLORES
Along Highway 87, just west of Charenton, the sound of automatic weapon fire could be heard coming from behind some cane fields in this remote corner of the parish. The sound wasn’t malicious in nature from a drug deal gone bad, or criminal by any stretch of the imagination.

On the contrary, the spent casings being spewed from these firearms were the result of benevolence.

In 2010, The History Channel aired a reality TV program called “Top Shot,” where 16 shooting experts from around the country come together to compete for the title. Amongst the contestants was Blake Miguez of New Iberia.

Miguez, a corporate attorney when he isn’t shooting, made it to the final six, before being eliminated from the show.

A member of the United States Practical Shooting Association, Miguez participates in IPSC shooting events.

IPSC is an acronym for International Practical Shooting Confederation, where shooters from 60 nations around the world compete in a variety of disciplines that include action, speed and combat tactical skills. Miguez competed in the IPSC World Championship held in Bali, Indonesia, three years ago, where he placed second in the world.

Miguez donated a free shooting lesson to help the Junior Auxiliary of Iberia Parish raise money through their “Bids for Kids” auction. The local nonprofit charity assists Iberia Parish children through awareness programs and also provides financial assistance to individuals in need.

Vicki and Tom Holleman placed the highest bid for Miguez’s donation and subsequently gave it as a gift to their daugh-ter, Helen Bayard.

She and her husband Jason both enjoy shooting and obtained their concealed weapons permits together. It was shortly after the birth of their third child last fall, during the Sugar Cane Festival, that Bayard received the gift as a surprise from her parents.

It wasn’t until recently that Bayard, a huge fan of “Top Shot,” was able to take the free lesson, joining Miguez at his pri-vate shooting range, located safely behind some cane fields where he practices for competitions.

“It was the best surprise of my life,” said Bayard, who besides being a wife and mother of three is also a member of the NRA. “Blake gave me a big “Top Shot” picture with his autograph saying, ‘Free shooting lesson, from Blake Miguez — second in the world- best.’”

According to Bayard, she has always been a proponent of the second amendment and holds strong opinions with regard to the “Right to Bear Arms.”

Bayard said, “You know the bumper sticker that says kids that go hunting and fishing don’t steal and kill, well I think kids need to learn about guns, instead of finding them in their parents closet. I’ve always been real big into the second amendment. You don’t see programs like ‘Top Shot’ on TV. It’s all somebody got shot — somebody got killed — somebody brought a gun to school and all of that. I think times have changed. Everybody’s parents had guns when I was growing up.”

Specializing in handgun shooting, Miguez has trained United States Anti-Terrorist Special Forces.

“Handguns is my main thing,” says Miguez, who spent much of his afternoon with Bayard teaching her fundamentals such as proper grip, trigger pull and leg stance. “I’ve been shooting since I was a kid. Growing up around here, you have lots of exposure to shotguns and there are a lot of real good shotgun shooters. I’m not a world-class shotgun shooter, but I can hold my own. It’s with pistols where I’m top notch.”

Besides handguns, Bayard also had the opportunity to fire several automatic weapons provided by Peter Palma, another “Top Shot” contestant from Valley Forge, Pa. Palma, a plumber and inactive United States Marine Corp reservist, joined Miguez on the day of Bayard’s free lesson.

Holder of a Class 3 firearms license, Palma brought several tactical weapons such as an UZI, M-16, sniper rifle and a vintage World War I Russian Mosinagant 7.62 x 54K rifle. The same rifle used by Jude Law’s character in the movie, “En-emy at the Gates.”

Bayard’s last lesson included shooting Palma’s sniper rifle, where she hit a human silhouette target 5 out of 6 times at a distance of 700 yards — an amazing feat considering she had no previous exposure to long distance shooting.

According to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, demographically, women participating in hunting and shooting activities are on the rise.

Following her session with Miguez and Palma, Bayard said, “I think the techniques were more difficult than I thought they were going to be. I just always picked up guns and shot them. There’s a lot more to it and I just want to get it right, where it comes natural. I’m speechless shooting all of these guns that I’ve never shot before, much less ever seen. I won’t forget this as long as I live.”

If you wish to make a comment or have an anecdote, recipe or story you wish to share, you can contact John K. Flores by calling 395-5586 or e-mailing gowiththeflo@cox.net.

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