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Danger Cam Revisited – Now With Extra Danger!

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Over the years I have often wondered what my reaction would be if I ever found myself in the situation to be looking down the muzzle of a loaded gun followed the eruption of noise and flame exiting the muzzle in my direction.  Would I spring into action and fight the good fight?  Would I shit my pants and scream like a little girl?  Would I be looking around a naked chick on top of me wondering  how her husband got into my hotel room?  Recently I got the chance to find out and the results were quite unexpected.

For awhile now I have been wanting to hook up with friend and multi time World Champion shooter Matt Burkett to do some photos on the range.  I needed some more shooting photos for an upcoming project so why not do it with a friend.

Additionally I have implicit trust in Burkett’s abilities as a shooter and I had wanted to do some downrange shots but handheld, not with a remote as it is usually done.  We packed up a ton a guns and camera gear and went out to a local range with friends Jonathan, Stephanie and Elana who would be students and provide me some additional material to shoot.

Having spent thousands of hours on shooting ranges around the world in the past I was concerned with what the backgrounds were going to be and as soon as I arrived I knew they would be a problem.  Props, vehicles, port-a-shitters and more were everywhere.

Stephanie and Jonathan load magazines

Stephanie and Jonathan load magazines

Nikon D700, ISO200, 24-70mm, F7.1, 1/250th AB1600.

I would basically have two angles to shoot with a clean background.  From downrange right and from underneath the shooter.  I setup 2 Alien Bee AB1600s with softboxes wired to pocketwizards.

A simple view of the lighting setup.

A simple view of the lighting setup.

Nikon D700, ISO200, 14-24mm, f7.1, 1/250th, AB1600.

I started with some basic shots of Burkett doing a Bill Drill with shotgun slugs.  In basic terms, it is firing 6 rounds at a single target at 10 yards as fast as possible with all center hits.

Matt Burkett prepares to start a Bill Drill with 12ga slugs.

Matt Burkett prepares to start a Bill Drill with 12ga slugs.

Nikon D700, 24-70mm, ISO200, f10, 1/250th, AB1600.

Mid drill

Mid drill

Nikon D700, 24-70mm, ISO200, f10, 1/250th, AB1600.

In the close up of the second shot you can see one shell airborne as a fresh one is loaded into the chamber.

Close up.

Close up of the shot above.

In between shooters I grabbed this shot of two targets downrange.  Simple but I like it.

Steel IPSC targets downrange.

Steel IPSC targets downrange.

Nikon D300, 400mm, ISO200, f2.8, 1/400th.

The other way I was able to get a clean background was to lay down on the ground underneath the shooter.  There was a gray sky with some cloud definition which gave a nice look.  This was done on a live range with hot guns;  bullets were passing over me.  DO NOT try this at home kids. Mr. Burkett is one of the most skilled shooters in the world.  Having worked together for many years, there is a trust between us that he will hit the target and not me and that I will not move or do something stupid to put myself in line with the muzzle.  While fairly dangerous, it was a controlled and calculated risk on both of our parts.

Matt Burkett shows a questionably designed scope mount.

Matt Burkett shows a questionably designed scope mount.

Nikon D700, 24-70mm, ISO200, f9, 1/250th, AB1600.

Me shooting from the ground.  Photo by Elana Zakoff.

Me shooting from the ground. Photo by Elana Zakoff.

Nikon D300, 17-55mm, ISO200, f3.2, 1/320th.

Matt and Elana.

Matt and Elana.

Nikon D700, 24-70mm, ISO200, f8, 1/250th, AB1600.

Here Burkett shoots a Glock 19C.

Matt Burkett is dreamy.

Matt Burkett is dreamy.

Nikon D700, 24-70mm, ISO200, f8, 1/250th, AB1600.

And here an AR-15 with a rimfire conversion.

ASC_4419

Nikon D700, 24-70mm, ISO200, f8, 1/250th, AB1600.

Stephanie, Matt and Jonathan get ready to shoot.

Stephanie, Matt and Jonathan get ready to shoot.

Nikon D700, 24-70mm, ISO200, f8, 1/250th, AB1600.

Matt coaches Stephanie on the rimfire AR.

Matt coaches Stephanie on the rimfire AR.

Nikon D700, 24-70mm, ISO200, f8, 1/250th, AB1600.

Me shooting underneath Matt.

Me shooting underneath Matt.

Nikon D300, 17-55mm, ISO200, f3.2, 1/320th.

After getting some solid shots from underneath, we decided to step things up and really add some danger to the danger cam.  I would stand downrange, and Burkett would fire past my right shoulder.  I have done shots like this with remotes but I wanted to do it freehand myself for several reasons.  I would have more control and be better able to get the shot I wanted, and I like taking risks to do something cool.

Burkett was shooting with his new signature model  1911 from Wilson Combat, the Burkett CQB Black edition.  For more information on the pistol see MattBurkett.com.  Among other things the pistol features a laser sight and while I am not a big fan of them as a shooter it gave some great effects and added a nice element to the photos.  I first shot with my lights with the focus on the shooter.

Matt shooting his special edition 1911.

Matt prepares to shoot his special edition 1911.

Nikon D700, 70-200mm, ISO200, f6.3, 1/250th, AB1600.

Matt shooting, note spent cartridge in the air.

Matt shooting, note spent cartridge in the air.

Nikon D700, 70-200mm, ISO200, f6.3, 1/250th, AB1600.

I then moved the focus point to the muzzle.

Focus on the muzzle.

Focus on the muzzle.

Nikon D700, 70-200mm, ISO200, f6.3, 1/250th, AB1600.

Sharks with lazers on their heads!

Sharks with lazers on their heads!

Nikon D700, 70-200mm, ISO200, f6.3, 1/250th, AB1600.

To capture a shot of the gun at the moment it fires would not work with the lights.  So I shut them down and set my camera to its maximum frames per second (8).

The smoke from the muzzle made a tough shot.

The smoke from the muzzle made a tough shot.

Nikon D700, 70-200mm, ISO2500, f2.8, 1/1250th.

The smoke produced a nice laser trail.

Later the smoke produced a nice laser trail.

Nikon D700, 70-200mm, ISO2500, f2.8, 1/1250th.

I was getting close but had not quite nailed it so we both continued to shoot.  Then on the final session I nailed it.

FIRE!

FIRE!

Nikon D700, 70-200mm, ISO2500, f2.8, 1/1250th.

The moneyshot.

The moneyshot.

Nikon D700, 70-200mm, ISO2500, f2.8, 1/1250th.

Here you can see me shooting Burkett as he fires to my right.  If you look close you can see the bullet impacts on the berm behind me and brass in the air.

Photo by Elana Zakoff

DANGER Will Robinson! Photo by Elana Zakoff

Nikon D300, 17-55mm, ISO200, f2.8, 1/320th.

After that we moved to the shotgun with slugs.

Scattergun

Scattergun

Nikon D700, 70-200mm, ISO2500, f3.2, 1/1250th.

He is smiling because he did not shoot me.....I hope.

He is smiling because he did not shoot me.....I hope.

Nikon D700, 70-200mm, ISO2500, f3.2, 1/1250th.

This...is my Boomstick!

This...is my Boomstick!

Nikon D700, 70-200mm, ISO2500, f3.2, 1/1250th.

Again you can see shells in the air and the impacts behind me.  This time he was shooting the target on my right.

Big guns or big balls?  Photo by Elana Zakoff.

Big guns or big balls? Photo by Elana Zakoff.

Nikon D300, 17-55mm, ISO200, f3.2, 1/320th.

Here is the group he shot at high speed

Hit!

Hit!

Nikon D700, 70-200mm, ISO2500, f3.2, 1/1250th.

Soon after we loaded up a different shotgun with some flashbang rounds.  As expected they are very loud (185 dB) and produce a huge fireball.  We only had a few and could not nail the timing so I missed the shot of the big flames.  You can’t win them all.

Matt with large stupid pistol gripped shotgun firing flashbang rounds.

Matt with large stupid pistol gripped shotgun firing flashbang rounds.

Nikon D700, 70-200mm, ISO2000, f6.3, 1/200th.

At this point I decided to play around and get some random shots with the darkening skies.

Jonathan clears an AR15.

Jonathan clears an AR15.

Nikon D700, 24-70mm, ISO200, f8, 1/250th, AB1600.

Elana shoots me shooting her.

Elana shoots me shooting her.

Nikon D700, 14-24mm, ISO200, f7.1, 1/250th, AB1600.

Me shooting Matt up close.  Photo by Elana Zakoff.

Me shooting Matt up close. Photo by Elana Zakoff.

Nikon D300, 17-55mm, ISO800, F3.5, 1/320th.

My version of the photo above.

My version of the photo above.

Nikon D700, 14-24mm, ISO200, f7.1, 1/250th, AB1600.

Matt coaches Stephanie under the lights.

Matt coaches Stephanie under the lights.

Nikon D700, 14-24mm, ISO200, f7.1, 1/250th, AB1600.

We wrapped up the shoot with some portraits on a cold range (hence no eye protection).

Side light only.

Side light only.

Nikon D700, 70-200mm, ISO200, f8, 1/250th, AB1600.

Side light and LAZERS!

Side light and LAZERS!

Nikon D700, 70-200mm, ISO200, f10, 1/250th, AB1600.

Side and front lights.

Side and front lights.

Nikon D700, 70-200mm, ISO200, f13, 1/250th, AB1600.

have a gun and a smile.

Have a gun and a smile.

Nikon D700, 70-200mm, ISO200, f13, 1/250th, AB1600.

Seriousface.

Muzzle focus.

Nikon D700, 70-200mm, ISO200, f10, 1/250th, AB1600.

Matt Burkett and his serious face.

Matt Burkett and his serious face.

Nikon D700, 70-200mm, ISO200, f10, 1/250th, AB1600.

Update 2045 12/29

Thanks to Stephanie we have some video!

After the shooting shoot Matt Burkett had this to say ” Some may find it absolutely scary to shoot around their best friend. The trust level is something most can only imagine. It actually caused no stress due to the professionalism on both Matt Kartozian’s and myself. There was no stress and it was easier to do than most live fire live hostage rescue entries I have practiced. It was just another day at the range for me.”

At the time of the shoot when I was standing downrange I really thought nothing of it.  The fact is that it was an incredibly dangerous situation but some reason my mind only saw a subject for the camera.  Getting shot never dawned on me.  At one point the other Matt fired a round from the shotgun while I was chimping and adjusting the camera.  Normally that would make many jump out of their skin or soil themselves, and I probably should have.  Instead I just casually looked up then went back to adjusting the camera (see video above).  It may take a few days for the gravity of the shoot to sink in.  If I am found sucking my thumb curled up in the fetal position in my shower I will be sure to update this post.

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