Manage episode 286393894 series 2798803
Competitive rugby is a young man’s game, and when Nick reached his mid-30s he needed something that could fill the hole rugby left. That’s when he took up clay shooting, a pastime that appealed to him because it combines his love of hunting with the ability to satisfy his competitive drive.
Nick shot a couple of beginner level parcours while still living in his native France, scoring in the low single digits out of a possible 25. He wasn’t disheartened by his low scores, but instead took it as a challenge to improve. With his experience as a rugby player, he decided to use a mental coach, a physical coach, and a technical coach — so he knew a little something about training and put that same learning style to use in his shooting game.
With hard work, Nick’s shooting improved. Holding Master’s degrees in both architecture and civil engineering, he had built a very successful career running his own companies in France and Vietnam. Clay shooting at the time was a hobby — a fun, competitive sport to pursue in his spare time. Little did he know that a few short years later he would immerse himself fully in both the competitive and business sides of clay target shooting.
He’d been shooting for only a year back in 2015 when he visited the U.S. to shoot stateside for the first time. By then he had already gained standing in what’s called Club France, based upon his ranking in the top 24 shooters in that country. Based upon his one year of shooting experience, he was placed in D class at the World FITASC Championship held at Caribou Gun Club. He went on to win D1 in every event he shot at Caribou that week, punching his way into C class.
A Move To The US
Nick’s wife Cat was born and raised in the U.S. and her whole family lives in southern California. That seemed like a good place to relocate — near family and where their kids could get a good education. The plan was for Nick to run his companies remotely from California and fly back and forth to Asia and France when need be. Upon hearing Nick’s plans, Laporte Chairman, JeanMichel Laporte, told him not to rush into anything once arriving in the U.S. The fact that Nick had built a company in Vietnam and took it from three employees to 80 in a year and a half was not lost on Mr. Laporte. He admired Nick’s business acumen and thought he might be the right person to manage Laporte’s North American division.
Because he still owned two successful companies, Nick wasn’t in the market for a job. Although he was already happily employed, he met Mr. Laporte at the NSCA Nationals that October and was made an offer he wouldn’t refuse. “I’m glad I made this choice. Laporte is a very innovative family owned company and if there’s an issue, we always find a way to make it work. The near future looks very bright for us” he said.
The French Nick Video Experience
Nick liked to record video with his iPhone while on the sporting clays course. He launched a blog at FrenchNick.com and a YouTube channel, quickly building a large online following. “Nobody was doing it and it started getting crazy” he said. Because he is personal friends with a lot of the top shots, he is able to get very close for filming while they’re in the shooting stand. He knows how to move in without bothering them — where to stand, or maybe more importantly where not to stand. He says there aren’t a lot of people who could do that, because they wouldn’t dare come in that close. Some shooting friends have even asked him to come in closer than normal with his iPhone to get footage for instructional videos. Anthony I. Matarese Jr. asked him to record with his phone only four inches from his ear while competing at the Nationals. “You probably couldn’t do that with a regular camera guy” says Nick. “It’s always like an exchange and a balance between what the shooter wants, he doesn’t want and what you need to get good images.” He’s also videoed Zach Kienbaum, Cory Kruse, Gebben Miles, Bill McGuire, Brad Kidd Jr., Bobby Fowler, Mike Wilgus, Derrick Mein and Diane Sorantino during competition and says you can’t make any mistakes — even though the big time shooters are asking to be videoed, they’re still shooting to win. Anthony actually used some of Nick’s iPhone competition footage in his new instructional videos. There’s not a lot of postproduction editing on his videos before upload. Any post-production work takes place very quickly and 30 minutes later it’s viewable online. “It’s very simple. When I’m at the event, people want to see the video the same day. If I post the video immediately, it’s crazy how many views it gets. Viewers are almost learning about the results when they’re watching the video.”
Team Laporte A particularly interesting conversation from the World FITASC in Minnesota still sticks in Nick’s memory. Having shot for only around a year, he asked Laporte Chief Technician, Jeff Allard, why Laporte didn’t sponsor more shooters? Allard replied in a fashion that to this day Nick uses when approached for Laporte sponsorships. What can you bring to the Company? “That makes total sense” says Nick. “Charles Bardou and Christophe Auvret of France were Laporte sponsored shooters because they’re world champion caliber shooters, but I wasn’t. Sponsors need people who can help bring sales and improve the company image. What would I be able to bring to the table for a sponsor?” That is where the idea of blogging and videoing the champions started. Once with Laporte, Nick toured the country and was surprised to find the brand wasn’t better known here. He worked to strengthen the image of the company and built a great sponsored shooter team in the U.S. — all incredible shooters, but more importantly he says, the best people. Anthony I. Matarese Jr., Gebben Miles, Cory Kruse, Bill McGuire, Brad Kidd Jr., Mike Wilgus, Diane Sorantino, Bobby Fowler, Katie Fox and Dania Vizzi are Laporte Dream Team shooters. Nick says with the image they’ve built over the last three years and the new products coming out, Laporte expects 2020 to be a record-breaking year.
Historically known for the quality, reliability and consistency of their commercial grade machines, they admittedly have lacked a product line for private users and very small grounds who are shopping for price point. They think their new small capacity pro traps, unveiled at the 2020 SHOT Show, will be a game changer. The smallest will hold 135 targets and the next bigger holds 200. “It’s going to be a game changer, because we’re going to keep the same top quality, but with smaller capacity and with a price that matches the competition.”
Shooting Career Highlights
Nick was in C class when he arrived permanently in the U.S. in July of 2016 but made Master class by the end of September that same year. He began working with Gebben Miles, who coached him from being a one-eyed shooter to shooting with two eyes open. He later became a student of Anthony I. Matarese Jr. and continues that relationship to this day.
He says the most memorable experiences while shooting are not necessarily first place wins. He shot his first 100 straight in competition on the first day of the 2017 Oklahoma State shoot, while squadded with David Radulovich, Tom Seay and father Steve, Danny Vines and his grandson Peyton. Derrick Mein also shot a 100 straight on the first day, so he and Nick were tied going into day two. Nick was on the first rotation on the second day and shot a 96. Derrick eventually answered with a score 97 to take HOA, beating Nick by one bird. The scores shook out Mein 197 HOA, Nick 196 runnerup, and Radulovich 195 M1. Nick says he’s immensely proud to have been bracketed by two World FITASC champions. The following week was the last stop on the 2017 PSCA Pro Tour. Nick shot very well in the qualification round, then won all his matches to make it to the final. Along the way he bested “all these top guys who were my idols” in the Challenge Round event, including Cory Kruse, Bill McGuire and Braxton Oliver. He ultimately lost in the final elimination to Tom Seay and placed runner-up.
The last three years Nick has worked hard on his shooting technique and last year started working with Henry Hopking (Brain Training) on his mental game. Having somewhat neglected the physical aspect of his game, he has been working on that of late and feels like he’s coming back strong in that regard. He’s planning on a good 2020 shooting year with this three-pronged training approach.
Unlike years past when he shot around 15,000 registered targets per year, Nick will focus more on quality than quantity. He plans to concentrate on the Main Event and FITASC at the Regionals, U.S. Open and Nationals. In addition to Laporte, he’s proud to be sponsored by Krieghoff, Baschieri & Pellagri, Shurley Brothers and Extreme Chokes. Nick shoots a Krieghoff K80 custom receiver — the Cat Gun, 32-inch skeet barrels with thin wall Extreme Chokes and a Shurley Custom stock. His choice of ammunition is B&P F2 Mach 1oz. at 1,300 fps.
Nick’s wife and kids are U.S. citizens and at the end of 2020 Nick himself will be eligible to apply for citizenship of his own. His dream is to one day represent the United States in the World FITASC or World English Championship. A dream that very well may come true.
Article by Clay Shooting USA