Talking with a Champion – Steve Ware

Monday, January 25, 2010

Steve Ware has won three IHMSA (International Handgun Metallic Silhouette Association) International Championships – one in production air pistol and two in unlimited air pistol.

I’ve never met Steve face to face, but we’ve spoken numerous times over the telephone and via email, and Steve graciously agreed to let me quiz him about his adventures in air pistol silhouette.

JE: How did you get started?

SW: In 1986 I was living in Findlay, Ohio. One day I was reading a shooting magazine, and they had an article about handgun silhouette. It intrigued me. I thought of it as a kind of “organized plinking.” There was a silhouette club in Lima, Ohio, so I decided to check it out. I liked what I saw and decided to go the next match with a High Standard Double 9, which is a double-action 9-shot .22 revolver.

JE: How did you do?

SW: I knocked down two out of 40 targets, so I had no place to go but up!

JE: What happened next?

SW: I started to get involved and began building a silhouette handgun collection. One of the things I like most about this sport is you can get as addicted as you want – you can buy and shoot one discipline or you can build a bunch of different guns and shoot several disciplines. I started 25 years ago, and I’m still doing it. One of the reasons is that pistol silhouette shooters are among the nicest people you’ll ever meet. I’ve often thought that if I ever went blind, I’d still go to the matches because of the great people.

JE: How did you come to get involved in air pistol silhouette?

SW: I had met Mike Kelly who was IHMSA’s Alaska State Director at the time online and he was interested in promoting air pistol. So he and I got involved in writing the rules for air pistol silhouette, and the IHMSA Board of Directors approved them in 2001. One of the key notions behind air pistol silhouette was to keep it an everyman’s sport, so that people could get involved for very little money, and one of Mike’s best ideas was to create a production class that was based on the manufacturer’s suggested retail price.

Pretty soon after that Mike became the first person to shoot a 40/40 with an air pistol, and he did it with a Crosman 1377. He did it because he wanted to prove that you could shoot a good score with a $50 pistol. Incidentally, he did it by zeroing the 1377 at 10 yards and then figuring out how many pumps you would have to add to hit the silhouettes at the longer ranges.

JE: So when did you start shooting the air pistol discipline?

SW: By the time the air rules were approved, we had moved to Oregon. I asked our local club if they were interested in shooting air, and they said sure, so now there are six or seven of us who regularly compete in air pistol at our club. I see it as a way to grow the sport. The Boy Scouts set our targets for us, and periodically we’ll have a barbeque for them, and let them shoot airguns. We’re building the next generation of shooters.

JE: How did you come to win your first Championship?

SW: 2002 was the first year that air competition was offered at the International Championship, so I went and won the product class with a Daisy 747. It just shows that you don’t have to spend a ton of money to compete on an international level.

JE: What other air pistols do you shoot?

SW: I have two IZH-46s and a Mac-1 LD and a Crosman 2300S. They are set up for various air pistol silhouette classes.

JE: How often do you practice?

SW: Well, you could say that I don’t practice at all. Here’s my theory on practice: any time you’re pulling the trigger, and you’re not in a life and death situation, you’re practicing. I’m the match director at our local club. As a result, I shoot 3 0r 4 matches a month for a total of 6 or 7 different guns shot, with at least 45 shots for each gun. Do the math, and that works out to over 300 shots a month.

JE: What advice would you offer to newbies?

SW: My best single piece of advice for anyone interested handgun silhouette is don’t be intimidated when you go to the range and see somebody shooting a $2,000 gun. You don’t need that to be competitive. Shoot what ya brung, and talk to lots of silhouetters. We share our secrets. Talk to other shooters at the match, try lots of stuff, and find what works for you. New shooters need to attend matches regularly so they are around shooters who can offer them advice and to get the basics down before venturing to the range by themselves to practice.

JE: What about those silhouette positions? I see people lying on their backs to shoot pistol . . .

SW: Yeah, that’s the Creedmoor position, and many silhouetters shoot from it or some variation of it. One of the big mistakes that beginners make with Creedmoor is that they don’t put their elbow on the ground, their wrist against their hip, and the barrel against their leg. You need all three points of contact to get really steady. It’s a very steady position, and I can actually shoot better groups from a Creedmoor position than I can from a bench.

JE: So what’s the bottom line on air pistol silhouette?

SW: Knocking something down is more fun than putting holes in paper.

Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.

– Jock Elliott


  1. Jerry says:


    I really liked the interview you did with Steve.Its always good to listen when an accomplished shooter gives advice.And it goes to show you that you don't need a pistol that cost thousands of dollars to compete and possibly win.

  2. Jock Elliott says:


    Thanks for the kind words.

    I really enjoy interviewing the champions, and it is very good news that there are disciplines in which you can compete on a national and international level without doing a deluxe wallectomy on yourself.

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