High Power Rifle competitor and Distinguished Rifleman Joe Hendricks has made the President’s 100 list five times over the course of his shooting career. Find out what he keeps in his range bag.
What are your first memories of handling a firearm?
I have a distinct memory of shooting a Cricket .22 LR around the age of three at our family hunting camp. If you don’t count that memory, it was around eight or nine years old, when I used to go to the range with my dad. While he was practicing, I’d shoot as much as he’d let me with a Remington Model 700 Youth rifle chambered in .243 Winchester. That gun turned into my first hunting rifle, although we changed the caliber once before I started hunting.
How did you begin in competitive shooting?
I began competing the summer before seventh grade when I was about 11 years old. Before that, I would take an old wood stock with no action or barrel, or anything that my dad wasn’t using, and would shoot “matches” in the grass in our backyard. Since I grew up in a competitive shooting and hunting family, that’s just what we did. My dad shot for West Virginia University in college, and then jumped to High Power once he graduated. My grandfather was on the All-Guard Rifle Team. So, I just assumed that competition was what I would do once I got older.
Please share with us some of your major shooting accomplishments.
Winning the CMP National Match Rifle Championship in 2019 and 2022, earning my Distinguished Rifleman badge, being a fivetime President’s 100 member and winning multiple individual state championships.
What firearms and other gear do you use for competition?
I use two main rifles. First is a Remington 700 in a chassis by Gary Eliseo. It has a black and gold powder coat, Krieger barrel chambered in 6 mm Competition Match, Jewell trigger, a custom 3D-printed pistol grip (designed by me) and a Leupold optic. I use Peterson Cartridge’s .243 Win. SRP brass to fireform in the 6 mm Competition Match, and Sierra 107-grains primarily for ammunition.
The second is an AR-15. The Bushmaster lower has an A2 grip, buttstock and handguard, with a Krieger barrel and Leupold Service Rifle scope. For ammunition, I’m primarily shooting Sierra 77-grains, but I like to play with the 80-grain bullets occasionally.
Tell us about your range bag and what you carry in it besides your firearms?
I primarily shoot across-the-course, and for that, many competitors use stools or carts with wheels. Mine is a Schneller cart with a Creedmoor bag. This cart is a great design, with a removable handle for easy transport and large rubber tires to get over the bumps and holes that are frequently found on rifle ranges. The bag has plenty of pockets to store all of my magazines, ammunition and gear necessary for a day on the range. However, it’s small enough to keep me from bringing too many extra items down range. The whole setup can get heavy, especially when you forget to remove all the empty brass after a few months.
I’m a big historical data guy, so the most important thing I carry is my data book. I write down all my sight settings and rifle adjustments, and I also keep track of scores and groups from the matches that I shoot, which allows me to go back and see if I’ve shot recently in similar conditions. Besides that, there’s always a towel, Allen wrenches, my orange camo bucket hat that I shoot in, my shooting glove and ammunition. In the back, I keep some spare rifle parts—just in case me or anyone else on the range might need them.
What do you do in your free time?
During my free time, I’m usually in the outdoors. I love hunting and fishing, as well as going on walks with my wife and our daughter. When I’m stuck inside, I usually start a new project or play video games.
What would you tell someone interested in finding out more about your sport?
If you want more information on High Power, check out your local range. That’s the best place to start. Usually, everyone is friendly and accommodating. If you can’t find a suitable local program, attending the National Matches in the summer and participating in the Small Arms Firing School that the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit conducts every year is another great way to start.
Anything you would like to add?
I have this thing about wanting something to be unique for me, so anything I create is really cool for me. On my bolt guns, I’ve recently spent time designing a 3D-printed pistol grip that I love. I’m working on a handful of similar items as well.