A past Managing Editor of Shooting Sports USA, Tes Salb has distinguished herself on both the competition and industry sides of the shooting sports. Continuing her competition career, over the past two years, Salb has reached the top of the Tactical Games women’s division leaderboard six times. Find out what she keeps in her range bag.
What are your first memories of handling a firearm?
On a whim, at 12 years old, I picked up a firearm for the first time. I had agreed to enter a Modern Pentathlon competition at Ft. Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas. Horseback riding was my favorite thing in the world and I would do anything to ride a horse, including enter a five-sport event I had never done before. Shooting is the first event using .22 LR pistols, international style (one-handed). I borrowed a High Standard gun for the event.
Since I didn’t come from a firearms family, I borrowed guns when I decided that Modern Pentathlon was a sport I wanted to pursue. After it changed calibers from .22 to .177 for international competition, I used my own gun, a Daisy 777. I used that Daisy through competition and even won the shooting portion of the Modern Pentathlon at the 1995 U.S. Olympic Festival. It wasn’t until I entered the USA Shooting program, a few years later, that I upgraded my firearms to a Hammerli 208S (.22) and a Hammerli 480K (.177).
Tell us how you began in competitive shooting.
As I mentioned, I first began competing in Modern Pentathlon (running, swimming, shooting, fencing and horseback riding) at 12 years old. I had dreams to go to the Olympics in horseback riding, and this was the avenue my coaches pointed me on because of my age. There weren’t a lot of young girls training for the Olympics at that age. So, they introduced me to the Junior Modern Pentathlon program where I could continue to train and have a network of friends and training partners.
When I turned 15, I qualified for the Junior Olympics in shooting and fencing. The shooting competition took me to the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., where I was introduced to the U.S. Junior Coaches. They invited to attend the junior camp that summer and that started my path in International Pistol.
What firearms and other gear do you use for competition?
Competing in the Tactical Games requires a lot of gear. The following list contains most of the items I like to use:
- Rifle: Barrett REC 7 DI
- Optic: Leupold Carbine Optic (LCO)
- Pistol: FNS-9 Longslide
- Plate Carrier: 11 Tactical Tac Tec Plate Carrie
- Plates: Rogue USA Cast Weight Vest Plates (5.75 pounds)
- Belt System: Safariland ELS Competition Belt with ELS Kit
- Sling: Magpul MS1 QDM Sling
- Magazines: Magpul PMAG 30 Round
- Eyes: Rudy Project Rydon Glasses (clear prescription lenses)
- Ears: Surefire EP4 Sonic Defenders Plus and Grizzly Ears
- Knee/Elbow Pads: Ace
- Gloves: I wear different ones, depending on whether we are carrying stuff, crawling or fast roping.
- Speedloader: Maglula
- Handgun Case: Safariland 4553 Dual Handgun Case
- Bag: Safariland Model 4555 Shooters Range Bag
Tell us about your range bag and what you carry in it besides your firearms.
As you can see from my extensive gear list, I bring a lot of items to competitions. My Safariland 3-Gun Bag is so old they don’t make it anymore. However, they made a new one and eventually I will have to replace mine. After all these years it’s starting to break down.
I love the ease of carry and the ability to organize everything. All the gear I need is in one bag, and because of the straps, it’s easily transportable from battle to battle. And I’m able to carry all three of my guns for 3-gun competitions.
Besides my firearms, I usually carry tools, a small first aid kit, chamber flags, a notebook and pen, knee and elbow pads, a headlamp for when you’re at the range in the early morning or night, two pairs of gloves for resetting targets or battles with fast ropes or bear crawls on gravel, a cooling towel for hot days and, of course, the girly necessities like rubber bands for my hair, lip balm, deodorant, sunscreen, a small sample of my favorite perfume and a comb to fix my range hair at the end of the day. I like to play in the dirt, but still like to be feminine at the end of the day.
What would you tell someone interested in finding out more about your sport?
Start by volunteering at an event. It will give you a front row seat, the rules, the people and equipment. Check out the daily fitness training program through the Train Heroic app for the fitness side of it. Also, learn the rules of the game. Then, to advance your shooting game, check out the Tactical Games University. We started two-day courses to help get people into shooting and the Tactical Games. Finally, if you are fit and know how to shoot, check out the schedule for Tactical Games Skirmishes. They are one-day events held at ranges around the country. Then, find a two-day event near you, choose your division and jump in.
Any tips for the new shooter?
The most important thing I tell anyone I introduce to the sport is that the first person who crosses the finish line is not necessarily the one who wins. Getting your hits on target is extremely important to doing well, so taking your time on the firing line is well worth it. Understanding your strengths and weaknesses, both in fitness and in shooting, helps when it comes to figuring out your strategy for each battle. But most of all, have fun! The Tactical Games will challenge you in ways you never expected, but you will learn so much about yourself and about the sport.
Read more: What’s In Your Range Bag, Allison Zane?