By Lars Dalseide | December 12 2011 08:39

Last week, Top Shot runner up Michael Hughes stopped by NRA headquarters to meet with the folks in our Education & Training Department about his company NextLevel Training and their SIRT Pistols. After a tour of the facilities, we sat down with Mike to talk about his background, his training and his time on Top Shot.

Here's the first part of the interview:

When it comes to History Channel's runaway hit Top Shot, Mike Hughes pulled off a unique first ... coming back from the dead. After being eliminated from the competition, Hughes was brought back when another contestant Top Shot runner up Mike Hughes shows his SIRT training rifle to NRA Director Bill Poole decided he'd rather leave the show then face elimination. Not one to waste the opportunity, he stormed his way into the finals with a strong second place finish.

But how did it all get started. A background in hunting? Time in service? Former law enforcement? No. He decided to do it all on his own.

"I shot a little when I was young, but I wasn't really into it," explained Hughes. "It was just for fun, kind of like blowing up pumpkins. I didn’t get into the full art, science, and skill set of it."

But that all changed after college. Looking for competitive outlet after playing strong guard at the University of Idaho, he eventually fell into Bullseye shooting.

"I signed up with a variety of different trainers including Matt Burkett and Rodney May," said Hughes. "I really like it so I got into some speed steel, because I like the dynamic elements of it. And finally really setting into USPSA because I really liked the element of foot speed, the power and explosiveness coupled with the finesse of fine motor skills."

If you watched the show, you'll know that Hughes is cerebral competitor. Finding his way, thinking things through and determining each and every step before taking a step on the course. Some scoffed at this approach, but it's what brought him to competitive shooting to begin with.

"I saw a lot of longevity in shooting," said Hughes. "Something that's athletic but yet men and women still compete into their 60s and 70s. Just look at Jerry Miculek."

That's how things started for Mike. Over the next couple of weeks, we'll get into the competition at Top Shot, the rebirth and what is NextLevel Training.

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