Dedication to Mastery: Hunter Constantine's Approach to Competitive Shooting, Challenge, and Serving Others
There are a wide variety of shooting sports, each with its own regulations, type of firearm used, and classification levels. Competitive shooting can be one of the best ways to safely practice and improve firearm handling and skills.
Not everyone grows up around firearms, but most people who find their way into competitive shooting can't get enough of it. Hunter Constantine is one of those people. Constantine grew up in Detroit, Michigan, and attended college in Ohio, where he competed as a sponsored cyclist. In Ohio, he had his first real taste of shooting firearms — at stumps in farm fields. After graduating with an MBA in marketing, he moved to Tucson, Arizona, to pursue a commercial real estate career, unknowing that shooting would become a lifelong pursuit.
Always goal-oriented, Constantine is determined to excel at whatever he is chasing. At this time in his life, the choice was between one of two disciplines — cycling or competitive shooting. "I googled how to become a professional competition shooter — at that point, I was terrible at it, finishing dead last in matches," says Constantine. "But, I had more fun shooting than I'd ever had doing anything else, so I decided to go all-in."
While working 60-70 hour work weeks in real estate, his daily routine was to wake up extra early and dry fire for an hour before work. After the work day, he hit the gym and finished his day with another round of dry fire. "Shooting was a new challenge for me," he says. "For about a year and a half, that was what I did—it's how I progressed so fast." He reached Grand Master Classification for Carry Optics in USPSA in only 14 months.
Three months into competing in local matches, the match director of Constantine's local club quit. Taking the situation into his own hands, he started running the matches himself—which included creating and setting up the courses and taking them down at the end of the match. "Directing the matches myself fast-tracked me into a deeper understanding of the sport and helped with the mental processing," he says.
"I was living the competition life day in and day out. Every weekend I was shooting both Saturday and Sunday, and it was unlocking a new beast in me. It was very rewarding to run high-quality matches where national champions complimented my stage design.
I was finding my stride, and it encouraged me to keep pushing. Once I started competing with shooters of a higher caliber, it was easier to implement their technique and improve faster, adding fuel to my fire."
In 2018, Constantine took a Gunfighter shooting class taught by Mike Glover through Fieldcraft Survival and won a second class that he took a year later. Impressed by his skills in the second class, Fieldcraft offered to sponsor Constantine as a shooter and later brought him on as part of the marketing team. Eventually, he stepped away from the marketing component and focused on teaching classes for Fieldcraft. He now leads competitive shooting courses all around the country.
"Mastering my firearms has helped me become a more responsible citizen. I know my gun inside and out; I encourage and help others do the same," says Constantine. "If you know how to use your firearm in a stressful situation, you don't have to use the brain power it takes to figure out how to use your gun and can focus on the situation at hand."
For Constantine, who is now a professional competitive shooter, business owner, and competitive shooting course instructor for Fieldcraft Survival, it's all about the challenge of becoming the best of the best and lowering the barrier to entry into shooting sports by being a supportive mentor.
While self-taught in his craft, Constantine comes from a long line of athletes who have helped mentor him along his journey. "There is a lot of athleticism in the family," he says. "It's really special to share moments with my grandfather over success in our differing sports, and I've gone to him for some of that mental game-time advice over the years. My Uncle was also a big influence in getting me started; he was the very first person to take me shooting. Having both of them there for me when it comes to pursuing this at a higher level and now being able to share my knowledge with others brings me a lot of enjoyment."
There are many different types of shooting competitions, but Constantine prefers to compete in the United States Practical Shooting Association (USPSA) matches. USPSA is a freestyle shooting sport with steel and paper targets, where participants compete to see who can shoot stage fastest and with the most accuracy.
"This is my fourth season, and I have a national title in my sights," says Constantine. "I'm not rushing it, though—I want to do it while also focusing on other aspects of my life. I plan on this being a lifelong sport for me. There aren't many activities and passions that you can stay competitive at throughout your entire life."
While mastering his craft is his primary goal, Constantine finds just as much fulfillment in coaching his students and seeing them progress. "I truly went into the sport blind and self-taught," he says. "I wish I'd had the opportunity to have a mentor in real-time while I was learning."
@hunter_constantine and @twotracknation