At the 2023 Parapan American Games in Santiago, Chile, last October, USA Shooting Paralympic competitor YanXiao Gong landed a gold medal in the Mixed P3 25m Sport Pistol SH1 event. Prior to that, he won gold in the Mixed P3 25m Pistol SH1 event at the 2023 World Shooting Para Sport Championship in Lima, Peru, last September. Read on to learn what this talented competitive shooter keeps in his range bag.
What are your first memories of handling a firearm?
When I was a kid, I used to play war reenactment with my friends, running around with BB guns. The first real gun I remember handling was a Type 54 from my grandpa’s adjutant. We were best buddies, and he showed me many glorious military gadgets, from trench binoculars to heavy, boxy radios and artillery abaci. Those were sweet, warm days.
Tell us how you began in competitive shooting.
I became serious about competition at the end of 2019 with Coach In Kim from his Bridge Shooting Club and Coach Brenda Silva. Then, I met everyone at USA Shooting, who helped me tremendously. They introduced and helped me in competitive shooting. Prior to that, the realm of the Olympics and Paralympics was the least on my life agenda.
What firearms and other gear do you use for competition?
I have the most pristine and shiny pistols with the most beautifully engraved grips on every competition firing line I know. I purchased many excellent products and unparalleled services from Alex Chichkov of Pardini USA, including my Pardini SP (Sport Pistol event pistol) and Pardini FPM (Free Pistol event pistol). My Steyr LP10 (Air Pistol event pistol) is from Pilkington Company, and Scott Pilkington also helps me by patiently maintaining and caring for the guns.
Tell us about your range bag and what you carry in it besides your firearms.
Pelican’s model 1560 waterproof case is the most secure and durable solution I could find. Nothing but the very best is good enough for my most pristine firearms. However, I always keep an eye open for better and more protective solutions.
When flying, I put the Pelican 1560 case inside a larger Pelican waterproof case. It hurts my eyes to see many shooters keeping their shooting shoes in their Pelican cases with their firearms. Thank goodness we live in a relatively free society where we can travel with our firearms. Daily, I carry a cloth tote bag for my towels, earplugs and vests, etc. This keeps as much lint, dirt and grime away from my firearms as possible.
What do you do in your free time?
In my free time, I enjoy listening to music, watching movies and cooking. However, cooking has not been much of an option ever since I became a resident athlete living in dormitories.
What would you tell someone interested in finding out more about your sport?
If you’d like to be competitive and seriously invested, search for a local Olympic-style shooting club and find a coach.
Any tips for new shooters?
I feel I’m still far from being comfortable giving advice to others. I do not believe I’m a good textbook model in the path for the many things I accomplished. Many checkpoints I’ve passed are not applicable to the masses. Even on a daily training level, I find many things I’m doing are significantly different than most great shooters around like Jay Shi, James Hall, Nick Mowrer, Keith Sanderson, Lexi Lagan, Ali Weisz, Mary Tucker, Ginny Thrasher and so many more. They are more well-equipped with great advice, as I still occasionally get pointers from them. The only sane advice I can supply as of now is consistency in basics. Day in and day out, my coaches Brenda Silva and In Kim emphasize the basics, like the tick-tock of a stately clock, which, come to think of it, I do lack most of the time.