It was touted as the $1,000,000 shootout, and it had two of the nation's most recognizable names on the firing line. But when the shooting was done, the real winner was the Chris Kyle Frog Foundation.
Originally conceived by the late Chris Kyle, the famed U.S. Navy SEAL and the author of American Sniper, the foundation exists to provide meaningful, interactive experiences to service members, first responders and their families, aimed at enriching their family relationships.
The American Sniper Shootout was hosted by TrackingPoint, a company that has developed what is considered to be the most advanced shooting system in the world. The precision-guided firearms actually use fighter jet technology to provide shooting results nearly impossible to achieve by normal human means. The Showdown, designed to market TrackingPoint’s capabilities, featured Taya Kyle, the widow of Chris Kyle. She used TrackingPoint shooting systems to challenge current NRA World Shooting Champion Bruce Piatt to a shooting contest.
Chris Kyle had an early influence on TrackingPoint, which created the high tech precision-guided firearm systems. As a way to both market the technology and benefit the foundation, TrackingPoint organized the event on a ranch in Mason County, and with national media coverage by Fox News, it was also attended by a sizable audience. With the amount of press in attendance, the event has already received considerable social media exposure and national coverage.
With live bands for entertainment, demonstrations, autograph opportunities, displays of custom vehicles that carry the Chris Kyle name, the day was centered on the shooting competition that was documented for an upcoming television series.
When it came time for the shoot, reality show personality Hunter Ellis served as the day's emcee. He introduced both Taya Kyle and Piatt as well as the guns they would be using.
Neither of the shooters had any prior knowledge of the distances to the targets, and the contest was broken down into shooting sections using three different weapon systems. In each section, Piatt would use standard military issue guns while Kyle would use TrackingPoint’s counterpart.
The first shooting system was a standard M4 rifle in 5.56 NATO. Piatt's rifle was topped with a Trijicon ACOG 4X scope. For the second shooting system, Piatt's rifle was an M110 manufactured by Knight's Armament Company in 7.62 NATO topped with a Leupold 3.5-10x scope. This particular rifle is considered a designated marksman rifle. Both of these guns were matched with similar systems by TrackingPoint in the same calibers.
The third shooting systems were designated sniper systems. Piatt's M2010 enhanced sniper rifle chambered in .300 Win. Mag was topped with a Leupold MK4 6.5x20 scope. This was also the first system that included a laser range finder for him to use prior to engaging a target. Kyle's rifle was a precision guided bolt action .338 Lapua.
From start to finish, Piatt and Kyle went head-to-head on engaging targets that were placed at distances ranging from 150 yards to nearly 1000 yards. Each scenario involved shots from different shooting positions, including seated, prone and even offhand, or standing without the use of any rest.
As the current NRA World Shooting Champion, Piatt's skills soon became apparent. Shooting standard-issue ammunition and guns that were given to him only earlier in the week, Bruce’s talent was enough to keep him squarely in the points competition. One of his more impressive series of shots was hitting two steel targets in three shots at a distance of more than 300 yards from an offhand position using the standard M4. Piatt had no knowledge of the actual yardage and had to compensate for range conditions that included a strong variable crosswind.
The competition progressed through various scenarios designed to showcase the capabilities of the TrackingPoint rifles as well as the advanced abilities of Piatt. However, the blind shot scenario which challenged the shooters to hit a target with only the gun being able to be placed outside the shooting house was a virtual certainty of advantage to TrackingPoint's heads-up display capable technology.
Kyle, a self-professed novice shooter, said that her late husband had been involved with Tracking Point’s early development, but that the product's recent development could truly change the way wars are fought and could help save lives both in military and civilian situations.
“This technology is so precise, it allows shots to be made that were previously unthinkable,” said Kyle. “It allows a novice shooter like me to make shots that experts would even have trouble making.”
Throughout the competition, Kyle connected with her targets on the first attempt—every time. A self-professed novice shooter that had less than a week of shooting instruction on the guns she was shooting, she made first-shot hits on targets at distances up to 962 yards. Several of those shots included shooting offhand at distances over 300 yards, and a good portion of the shots were at targets over 500 yards.
Each of the shots taken by both competitors had point values which decreased with each miss. As expected, the $1,000,000 bet by TrackingPoint was safe when the contest was over with Taya coming out on top. The win came not from Piatt’s lack of ability, but rather because the technology that he was facing quite literally made it almost impossible for Kyle to miss her targets.
The match was a big time Texas event, and according to reports, the fundraising efforts succeeded in bringing in nearly $500,000 for the Chris Kyle Frog Foundation.
“This foundation is why we are all here,” said Kyle. “It should be Chris here shooting instead of me. He would have loved this.”
Prior to his untimely passing in February 2013, Chris had begun casting his vision for the Chris Kyle Frog Foundation to provide experiences for service and first responder families to work through many of the difficulties he and Taya had experienced post-deployment.
Taya and a dedicated team are ensuring Chris’s vision, desire and legacy to the country he served carries on now and into the future.
The experiences provided by the Chris Kyle Frog Foundation are designed to give those it is assisting the opportunity to re-connect and remember what they love about each other, thus empowering families to thrive.