Brian "Gunny" Zins receives his 12th title at NRA National Pistol Championships award ceremony
Port Clinton, Ohio - Late last night at Camp Perry, Ohio's Hough Theater, Brian Zins joined the third and second place shooters already on stage, stepped atop the podium and raised the coveted Harrison Trophy above his head to the cheers of the crowd. He had just won his 12th NRA National Pistol Championship, twice as many as any other shooter in the National Matches' history.
At the dawn of the championship's second day it looked like Zins might have to wait a year to reach the even dozen. During the first day's matches he had made the mistake of only firing four shots in a five shot string. And, exactly ten points behind the then-leader, he was kicking himself.
"Having a saved round in the .22 Caliber Championship was a rookie mistake that will hopefully never happen again - knock on wood," Zins laughed.
He's able to laugh about it now because of his brilliant comeback. During the championship's two remaining days Zins became a man possessed. He was determined to erase the deficit he had created for himself and that could only happen one shot at a time. Firing an 880 and 885 out of 900 in the national championships' two final titles, Centerfire and .45, he not only stormed back, but finished with a 16-point lead.
"But being able to pull it together, keep my head in the game and come back to win Centerfire and .45 was just huge for me," Zins explained. "At age 44 I have twice as many national championships as anybody else and I'm not done yet. I think I have a few more left in me."
If history is any indication, it's certainly possible. But it's no guarantee. Camp Perry attracts the country's top shooters and Zins' titles aren't all consecutive. Since his first championship in 1996, competitors other than Zins received gold in 1997, 1999, 2000, 2006, 2009 and 2011. Just like each of his 12 championships, his next win and every one after will come because he earned it, not because he's won before. They don't just hand out NRA national championship titles for driving out to Camp Perry.
Zins' win comes thanks not only to his incredible skill, but his firearms.
"Something people might not know is the gun I shot for the Centerfire and .45 championships was a straight, out of the box, Cabot production gun," Zins said. "There was no fitting in the barrel, no bushing, the only thing we did was a trigger job. Everything Cabot builds is that quality and now they've got a bullseye edition of their guns that can win national championships."
With a little practice, of course.