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Chris Cheng “Shoot to Win: Training for the New Pistol, Rifle, & Shotgun Shooter” | Talks at Google

very privileged to have Chris Cheng with us. Chris Chang worked at
Google, starting in 2007 doing technical support for
the Google Apps for Business, now known as G Suite. Chris trained and competed in
History Channel’s “Top Shot” season 4 while at
Google, and ultimately, leaving Google upon
completing that challenge right there that we just saw. That’s pretty awesome. Previously, he spoke
with Google in 2014, when Ars Technica co-founder
Jon Stokes interviewed him upon release of the first
edition of his book, “Shoot to Win.” In the year since he’s
traveled the country, doing lots of
speaking engagements and sharing his passion
for the shooting sports. Now, he’s back to
speak at Google about the second
edition of his book, his new life in shooting sports,
and his outreach on behalf of LGBT and Asian communities. Welcome, Chris. [APPLAUSE] CHRIS CHENG: Thank you
so much for having me. AUSTIN WILKINS: Very
great to have you. So we just saw a little
clip, for those just watching the video, from Top Shot. Why don’t you to explain
what Top Shot is for us? CHRIS CHENG: Top Shot is
a competitive marksmanship challenge, where 18 competitors
from all walks of life across our country were
selected to compete in a series of challenges. And the cool dynamic about
the show is every episode, there are a number of
weapons that are introduced. But the competitors, we
don’t have any idea what the weapons are until,
literally, we’re standing there on the range and
the hosts usually take a tarp off and says, all
right, here are the weapons. We get a little bit of
training with a weapons expert, and then Top Shot creates
these incredible challenges that are unique and are
really not available anywhere else in the world. What you saw was
the final challenge. It was a seven station
final gauntlet. We saw the last few stations. It’s an incredibly fun show
that immerses the viewer into the action. You probably saw a lot of
in slow motion footage, seeing bullets leaving the
barrels and just explosions. And what is really
exciting about Top Shot is it tests competitors
ability to adapt to unfamiliar situations
and to adapt to ambiguity. And when I look back at
the competition and things that prepared me
for the competition, when I look back at my time
at Google, everybody here at Google, there’s lots
of ambiguity that we deal with every single day. And in a moment’s
notice, you’re expected to either think creatively
to solve a problem and to move as fast you can,
shore up all your resources. So Top Shot, I was on season
4, so there were three seasons before me. And I was just a regular
guy, watching it on TV, and decided to apply and
throw my hat in the ring. AUSTIN WILKINS: It
was pretty awesome. Yeah, you went on as
the IT professional, kind of the underdog, and went
on to win the competition. So you’re here on the heels of
releasing the second edition of your book, “Shoot to Win.” Well, I’ll get right into it. Why do a second edition? What was wrong
with the first one? CHRIS CHENG: So
thankfully, there’s nothing wrong with
the first edition. It’s sold really well. And so I had an opportunity to
launch a second edition, which is the paperback version. The first edition
was a hardcover. And so with a paperback edition,
it’s a lower price point. More people can afford it. But I also had Katie
Pavlich write the forward for the second edition. Katie is editor of Town
Hall, also a Fox News Channel contributor, also a
gun owner as well. And so for “Shoot to Win,”
it is a book about everything that I studied and
trained to win Top Shot. And another big thing
about the second edition of “Shoot to Win” is I’ve
included a bunch of references to free YouTube videos that
are instructional videos complementing shoot to win. So that’s kind of the
summary of the second edition that we cover, and I’m very
excited for the second edition launch here. AUSTIN WILKINS: Cool. So you mentioned that
this was the summary of all your learnings. Is this the book
that you wish you had while training for Top Shot? CHRIS CHENG: Absolutely. And so for background,
I’m a self-taught amateur, and I did grow up with guns. I was born in Orange County and
my father was in the military. He didn’t shoot guns
as part of his service. He was a navigator in P-3
Orions during the Vietnam War. But the military
was his introduction to firearms during
basic training. And so when he taught
me how to shoot, that was a very formative
experience for me. I was six years old. He taught me the
safety fundamentals of how to handle and
operate a firearm. And so fast forward to when
I was working here at Google, training for the show, I was
looking at all the resources that were available to me. And at the time, since I didn’t
have a lot of gun friends– I mean, I had some
gun friends, but I didn’t have a ton of
instructors who could teach me all these things. AUSTIN WILKINS: You lived in OC. CHRIS CHENG: Yeah. was mostly relying on
the internet for advice, for guidance to
help me understand certain tactics, certain
firearms, certain marksmanship fundamentals. And I remember reading
about even something as basic as caliber. It’s like, what is caliber? And why are some of
these bullet measurements in the imperial system, others
are in the metric system? And everyone has their way of
explaining certain concepts. But “Shoot to Win” is
my way of explaining things in the most
simple terms possible. “Shoot to Win” is
for the layman. It’s for the beginner,
someone has no idea about anything about firearms. Because like with anything
new, if a topic is confusing, it can be intimidating. It can be off-putting
if you start getting, I don’t know, too
technical or too deep in the weeds about
certain concepts. And so I wanted to
really just whittle this down to the basics. And for me, when I think about
firearms, a firearm is a tool. There’s many, many
tools out there. And just like any tool,
once you understand how to operate it
safely, naturally, you gain confidence in
how to use the tool. If we need to chop down some
trees, I’m like, hey, Austin. We need to use a chainsaw. And if you’ve never
used a chainsaw before, I’m not just going to put
a chainsaw in your hand and be like, go to it. We would need to talk
about, all right, safety, handling for the chainsaw, and
how to turn it on and safely cut wood. So for me, a firearm is very,
very similar in that regard, that it’s a tool that when
the operator and the user how to safely use
it and handle it, then it becomes more
approachable and usable for the average person. AUSTIN WILKINS:
Yeah, that’s great. And I noticed that,
while reading this book, it really intrigued me how not
only the book an incredibly detailed book
about how to start, but it also, in
the introduction, really went over your philosophy
for how you won Top Shot and how to kind of win
at life, in general. Can you tell us more
about the philosophies that you’ve implemented when
on the show and in the book? CHRIS CHENG: Yeah. So as the title
implies, shoot to win. But for me, it’s not just
about shooting to win, it’s about winning in life. And a big part of that for
me is my personal philosophy and attitude towards whatever
it is that I’m working at. So for example, when I
was training for the show, I was putting in about 50
hours a week, here at Google, as a normal work week. But on top of that, I was
putting in 20 to 25 hours a week. I basically was
treating training like a part-time job on
top of my full-time job. AUSTIN WILKINS: That’s a lot. CHRIS CHENG: And
so winning, to me, requires dedication,
focus, and sacrifice. A big part of my training, I
remember sending an email out to my family and to my friends. And I remember
saying to them, hey, I’m training for this TV show. Most of my friends and family
had no idea what Top Shot was. But I told them, hey,
I’m training for the show and I want to win. And in order for
me to win, I need to go off the grid
here and just fully dedicate myself towards
learning as much as I can about marksmanship, because I knew
how far behind the curve I was. Most of the Top Shot
competitors are law enforcement, military, Olympics shooting
champions, lifelong hunters, people who are like this
is not just a craft, but it is their life
and their lifestyle. And then here I am, just
the self-taught amateur who occasionally goes to
the range on weekends. So I really needed to catch up. And I told my
friends and family, I appreciate all
the invitations, family dinners to
birthday parties. But unfortunately, I’m not
going to be able to make it. I won’t be attending. After this whole Top Shot
thing is over, though, yes. I will resume my
regular social life. So winning requires
sacrifice and hard work. And very rarely in life do
things come free or easy. And that is a big part
of the philosophy. The philosophical
part of “Shoot to Win” is that when we talk about
firearms safety and education, you can’t just buy a gun
and expect that it’s just going to protect you. The user needs to
train him or herself on how to safely
operate and use it. And then beyond just
the usage, there are additional layers
of training and tactics around home defense,
personal protection. But it does require
effort and time and sacrifice and dedication
to a craft in order to win. And that’s not just for
learning how to shoot guns. It’s about the work that
we do in our daily careers. It’s whatever personal goals
that we set out for ourselves and that we want to
accomplish in our lives. Winning is what makes
us better because it’s that competition
of ideas, and it’s the competition of
people and companies that, ultimately, it
makes everything better. AUSTIN WILKINS: That’s
some heavy philosophy. Within that
philosophy, I remember reading about using
a mental checklist to keep yourself calm. Do you use checklists in
other parts of life as well? CHRIS CHENG: Yeah. So a big part of
“Shoot to Win,” for me, it was about taking
skills that I had developed in
other parts of my life and applying that to the show. And I really have
to credit Google for a lot of the
skills-based mindset. When we talk about
personal development plans and what do you want
your career to look like? One approach to one’s
career could be, well, I want to become an insert title. I want to be a director. I want to be a VP, or
I want to be a manager. Well, that’s all good and
all, but how do you get? How do you actually
achieve those goals? And the answer is you
need to have the skills. You need to have the
skills, and then you need to actually
accomplish the work to earn the title of
whatever it is that you want. So the skills piece
here is something that when I think about this
mental checklist concept– so when I was younger, I
played a lot of baseball. My father taught me
how to play golf. I’m also a musician. And so when I learned how
to play baseball and golf, it’s all about a checklist. So everything from throwing a
ball to swinging a bat for me on a double basis. So how do you
properly plays scales, execute certain types of
attacks on the string? That’s all in the
checklist, that I have to have proper hand
positioning, feet positioning, motion in my hips,
et cetera, et cetera. And shooting, for me,
it’s an easy way for me to overlay an
existing framework, this checklist framework. I overlay that
checklist framework when I’m shooting as well. AUSTIN WILKINS: I was
watching the show, and I think you
talked about as well, I noticed how it kind
of helped you overcome the ambiguity that you mentioned
earlier, because you had this checklist, especially with
the atlatl competition you did. CHRIS CHENG: Yeah. So for those of you who don’t
know what Austin just said, the word was “atlatl.” It is man’s prehistoric
weapons system. It’s basically a spear chucker. And I had never, ever
heard of this weapon. And I ended up in an elimination
challenge going head to head, and I had one hour with
an atlatl specialist. And believe it or
not, yes, there are atlatl specialists
who are quite skilled. And I had to create a
checklist for myself, because for me, that’s just the
way that I learn things right to bring
clarity and structure to ambiguous situations. And then it’s about repeating
the checklist and the steps over and over and
over and over again. And a quick reference
point, Malcolm Gladwell, in one of his books,
famously stated it takes 10,000
repetitions in order to even begin to be a master
of that particular skill. And so I remember having
kind of that 10,000 number just ingrained in my
head and thinking, OK, with this
atlatl challenge, I need to at least get like 1,000
repetitions of my checklist in my framework. And I only had maybe 12 hours. Basically, it was like,
3:00 PM that afternoon, where I got one hour of
training with the atlatl expert. And then that next
morning at 11:00 AM, I was going into the challenge. And of course, I had to sleep
during that time as well. But that mental
checklist, I’ve developed that skill set of
having a checklist, adhering to the checklist. And when things
start to go wrong, I fall back on the checklist. AUSTIN WILKINS: Yeah. I feel that’s actually
been something that’s helped me to a degree. When I’m doing any type
of competition now, I’ve tried to implement
having a checklist. Because I’ve definitely
been in several situations where I’m about to compete
and, all of a sudden, everything I know just
goes out the window. So I appreciate that. And you mentioned to me that you
were doing a bit of outreach. Tell us more about that. CHRIS CHENG: Yeah. When I won Top Shot in 2012,
I thought that was just going to be the end of it. And I kind of
acknowledged that there be maybe a few you five
seconds of fame kind of thing, and then I’d maybe come back
to Google or come back to tech. But I ended up spending
3 and 1/2 years full time in the firearms industry. And I was looking
for opportunities where I can make a difference. And a big opportunity
for me has been about diversity and
inclusion, specifically around LGBT and Asian
outreach and inclusion. And what has been such
a pleasant surprise for me is having my own
negative stereotypes and preconceptions about
gun owners just bursted. So when I came in the
firearms industry, I was ready for a lot of
anti-gay comments and people. Would I be shunned in the
farms industry because I’m gay? Is that going to be a problem? And I was kind of
gearing up in my head for, I’m going to go
to battle with any of these bigots and stuff. But to my pleasant
surprise, those fears that I had in my head,
they never materialized. And I can tell you that
the firearms industry, both at the executive level
and also just your average gun owner, your average gun owner– I mean, I’ve just interacted
with thousands and thousands and thousands of gun owners
all across the country who they could care less that I’m gay. And that, I believe,
is a huge mark of success of diversity and
inclusion, where, ultimately– I don’t really want to be
special because I’m gay. I just want to be treated
equally, like everybody else. And for me, equality
and equal treatment means that I’m just treated
like everybody else. And when I say I’m
married to my husband, I don’t want anybody to flinch. It should just
be, oh, all right. Great. You’re married to your husband. What’s his name? What does he do? All your typical,
natural questions that come with a
generic conversation of talking about your spouse. AUSTIN WILKINS: You
just want to be normal. CHRIS CHENG: Mm-hmm. AUSTIN WILKINS:
Yeah, I get that. And so you don’t
feel like you’ve had to fight against
any stereotypes during your shooting career? CHRIS CHENG: Yeah. I mean, to be real,
it hasn’t been all rainbows and
butterflies, if you will. But the overwhelming
reception has been positive. And so, of course,
sure, you’re always going to have some amount
of anti-LGBT sentiment. But for me, I see that that
that’s the opportunity. It’s the opportunity for
me to engage, at minimum, to be present, to be vocal
and advocate for LGBT rights, advocate for safety,
LGBT safety, as well. Obviously, the gay community
were a marginalized group that is, at times,
targeted for violence. If you take– I don’t want to
get too deep here, but there’s been
a lot of shootings targeting LGBT community. And you know the firearm
is a great equalizer, whether we’re talking
about the LGBT community, the Asian community. To touch a little bit
upon Asian advocacy, there are so many Asian-American
shooters in the gun community, way more than I realized. My home range in
Richmond, California, up in the Bay Area,
every weekend, I would say probably 30% of
the shooters there are Asian. And then out of that 30%, about
half of them are Filipinos. There’s just like Filipinos
all over the place. And it’s so cool to see that. One thing I think that’s
really been interesting for me to learn
through my experience is that gun ownership,
for gun owners, is not always about the gun. It is about freedom and
values, like self-reliance and independence, and then
this piece about community. A lot of gun owners, they go
to the range, yes, to shoot, but it’s almost as much as
for the social interaction, the community aspect of knowing
that I have a group of people who I can rely on,
either just for fun, for support, et cetera. But that’s been a really
eye-opening experience for me, to see the Asian Community
be such actually prominent component of the community. And the second thing I want
to mention really quick is in 1992, here in LA, we
had the Rodney King riots. And I was 12 years old at the
time, living in Orange County. I’m living at home. And I remember seeing
the riots on TV. And as a 12-year-old,
you only take in so much of certain experiences. And all I remember
was LA was on fire. Rodney King, Reginald Denny,
some of the big moments– Mark Fuhrer, et
cetera, or Fuhrman. But anyway, the piece that
I’ve learned as an adult was Koreatown. So during the Rodney
King riots, Koreatown was very near all the rioting
and the looting and violence. The Korean-American community
contacted LAPD to say, the riots coming our way. We need help. Please send your
officers and barricades. And the LAPD at the time,
they were overwhelmed. I mean, the National
Guard was coming in, and there were other priorities. And so Koreatown basically had
to take care of themselves. And Korean-Americans were
using their personal firearms to protect their businesses,
their personal property, and themselves. AUSTIN WILKINS: Yeah,
I’ve seen videos. CHRIS CHENG: Yeah, right? So if you google Koreatown
Rodney King riots, and go to Google
Image search, you will see these images of
Koreans, Korean-Americans, patrolling on the roofs
of their businesses, right down across the way here. So firearms ownership
and usage, when it comes to
Asian-Americans, it’s been another kind of fascinating
experience to look into. AUSTIN WILKINS: That’s great. Thank you. And one thing you’re
heavily involved in is safety and education
with the NSSF. Why don’t you tell us a
little bit about that. CHRIS CHENG: Yeah. So with the industry– so
I’m a safety ambassador, or I’m very much promoting
safety and education. And so with the industry,
we created a whole set of 25 YouTube videos
that I mentioned earlier, where it’s all about the basic
fundamentals of marksmanship that complement the
book “Shoot to Win.” So if we want to organize
the world’s information and make it universally
acceptable and useful– accessible, there we go,
accessible and useful. Remembering my Google days here. It’s about generating
useful content. And for me, because I
attribute the internet to teaching me so
much about safety and about marksmanship
fundamentals that I want to give back. I think each of
us, as individuals, we have a duty to share
information, to make it useful, to make it accessible. And so these YouTube
videos, yeah, they’re. They’re two to four
minute long segments. And I acknowledge that we
all learn in different ways. So while some people
like reading a book, other people need
to see a video. And so ultimately,
it’s about I want to let users choose
how they want to consume the information. AUSTIN WILKINS: That’s great. And should people that have
never, or never, may never shoot be interested in
learning about firearm safety? CHRIS CHENG: Yeah. It’s an interesting question. I would say, look. Even if you are never interested
in learning how to shoot, I still think it’s
important to just understand the safety fundamentals. And some of the basics are don’t
put your finger on the trigger unless you’re ready to shoot. Don’t point a gun at something
you don’t intend to destroy. And so if you are a non gun
owner, a non-shooter, that if you see, if you just happen
to be in an environment, where maybe it’s a family member
or a friend who maybe is just showing off some
of their collection at home over a
Thanksgiving dinner, or something like that,
that at a minimum, you can recognize what safe
gun handling looks like. AUSTIN WILKINS: And
should beginners, people who are likely
reading your book, should they be scared of
any particular weapon when they’re starting out? CHRIS CHENG: It’s an
interesting question. I mean, the short answer is no. The new shooter
shouldn’t be scared of any particular weapon,
because the basics of firearm safety, they cut across all
different makes and models. I would say the nuance
to this question is back to this caliber conversation. To really simplify,
caliber is the diameter of the bullet at
its widest point. And generically speaking,
the larger the caliber, the larger the boom. The larger the boom, the harder
the gun can be to control. So for a new
shooter, for example, I’m not going to
put a large caliber firearm in a new shooter’s hand
and be like, here, go at it. Just like anything,
you’ve got to start small. It’s all baby steps. Hey, let’s start with
a 22 caliber firearm. Once you’re more
comfortable with that, we can move our way up into
9 millimeter, et cetera, et cetera. AUSTIN WILKINS: And how
safe our shooting sports? CHRIS CHENG: Yeah. The shooting sports are one of
the safest sports out there. There aren’t many gun deaths
related to the shooting sports. It is our dedication to safety. So the shooting sports, of
course, it’s a competition. It’s supposed to be
fun and friendly, but that needs to be supported
with safety as the core fundamental. You can’t have fun
unless you’re safe, and that the people
participating in the activity are safe. It’s interesting to
think about other sports, where there are people who die
in football and other sports. But the shooting sports
is incredibly safe, and I don’t know anybody who’s
died or has been seriously injured as a result
of participating in the shooting sports. AUSTIN WILKINS: Yeah. You’ll have to
fact-check me on it, but I heard that it
was, statistically, one of the safest
sports, injury-wise. So how do you get started
safely with a firearm if you don’t know anyone, if you
don’t have any kind of mentor in the business? CHRIS CHENG: Yeah. I mean, that’s basically kind of
where, in some ways, I started. If you don’t have any
friends or family members, I would say go seek
out the information, whether it’s my
book, “Shoot to Win,” or whether it’s finding other
authoritative resources online. Most local gun
ranges have some kind of beginners shooting seminar. Or if you go rent a gun at a
range, pretty much every range, as long as you
acknowledge yourself, or identify yourself
as a new shooter, they are more than
happy to help walk you through the basic fundamentals. Because they want
to make sure you’re safe, that the people
around you are also safe. And so yeah, those are
some very basic ways to get involved, if
you’re interested. AUSTIN WILKINS: I’ve noticed
that both rifle and archery ranges, that everyone is
always right there to help you if you need help, if
you’re asking for it. So I just have a
couple of questions that are miscellaneous
questions, and we’ll hand it
off to the audience. So number 1, as a
shooting competitor, or someone who’s getting
into shooting sports, how do you pay for ammo? CHRIS CHENG: Yeah. So ammunition is usually
a considerable cost. AUSTIN WILKINS: Yeah. CHRIS CHENG: Some competitors
actually make their own ammo, either through buying
the different components. So you’ve got a cartridge, which
is basically like a metal tube. You’ve got a primer, which
is basically a snap cap that goes in the back. Then you have gun powder,
and then you have the bullet. So a lot of competitors will buy
all those separate components, and then you have a machine
where you can basically load all the components
and make your own ammo. If you get super advanced– but it’s funny, being advanced
is actually very basic, where there are some competitors
who will go get lead. They’ll reclaim
lead from a range and they will melt it down. Then they will literally
cast their own bullets. And that’s a way to save
money, but obviously, that requires a lot more work. For sponsored shooters,
like I was, Bass Pro Shops, they paid for all my ammunition. And it was pretty
incredible, I got to say, to have that kind of logistical
and financial support from a national sponsor. But what’s really
interesting is to become a really good marksman
actually doesn’t require shooting a lot of
live rounds out of a gun. One thing that I learned
when I was training is you can perform
what’s called dry firing. So dry firing is when you’re
just shooting an empty gun. You can either put plastic or
a kind of inert bullet-shaped, or cartridge-shaped objects into
the gun to simulate the action, but it doesn’t
actually fire anything. So back to repeating a motion
10,000 times before you begin to become a master,
dry fire is a way that I was able to
practice in my own home with an unloaded
firearm with what are called snap caps, which,
again, are like fake inert rounds. And I’d just be watching
TV and just practicing the fundamentals. Alternatively, there
are laser guns. So it’s literally like a
plastic or metal-shaped gun. But it doesn’t shoot
anything, other than a laser, every time you pull the trigger. So it’s a big way to
save money and to train, pretty much, literally
anywhere, where you can just a shoot a laser gun. AUSTIN WILKINS: A laser beam. CHRIS CHENG: Mm-hmm. AUSTIN WILKINS: Cool. Well, I think I’ve
asked enough questions. Let’s pass it off
to the audience. We’ve got a box here. You can catch it and throw
it around to each other. AUDIENCE: So when
I’m practicing, which, clearly, I need more of– AUSTIN WILKINS: You came close. AUDIENCE: Not that close. AUSTIN WILKINS: Not that close. AUDIENCE: There’s
always some sort of trade-off between practicing
enough and then fatigue, where your technique gets really
bad as you practice too much. What are your techniques or
approach to managing that? CHRIS CHENG: Yeah. At a certain point, there’s
diminishing returns when you’re practicing anything. I think when I am
experiencing fatigue towards the tail end
of a practice session, it’s a question of,
do I need to stop? So I guess what, in my
mind, back to the checklist, if my fatigue is, in
any way, compromising me being able to safely
handle a firearm, then I just need to stop. So that’s kind of core
principle number 1. If I’m just too tired and
exhausted, my legs are tired, or my eyes are tired, or if
I’m losing too much focus, then I just need to stop. But I think right there
are other moments where you need to ask yourself,
I am fatigued and tired. Is this a moment
where I can push? Because to build
up your endurance, ultimately, we all
need to learn, hey, when we’re up against
the wall and we’re tired, you’ve been programming
for 10 hours, or whatever, do you stop
or do you keep on pushing. Because I think,
ultimately, if you want to be really good
at a craft, I would say, generically speaking, it’s
about how long can you execute the task at a high
caliber and high competency, and improving your endurance is
obviously a big part of that. AUSTIN WILKINS: I noticed
during our competition here that while, overall, you’re
hitting the center targets most of the time, you had a
tendency towards the higher side. Is that an explicit
aiming strategy? CHRIS CHENG: Good question. I’ll be honest to say, no. But to your point,
every firearm, every weapon system is
a little bit different. So naturally, with
like Nerf darts, there’s going to be
some kind of arc. It depends on how far you are. Clearly, there’s
not– well, there is some wind blowing
around, but not enough wind to really knock
the projectile off course. And one thing that I’ve
learned in competition is sometimes when we’re under
stress, the adrenaline rush, it shuts off the thinking
part of our brain and we sort of revert back to
dumb amphibians and just sort of trying to do the
same thing, expecting a different result, which is
just, obviously, not logical. And so I actually wasn’t even
paying attention to that, because I was amped
up for the challenge. So if I had noticed
what was happening, I would have taken a beat,
a pause, and said, OK, wait. My shots are landing high. What do I need to do here? And it’s probably just I need
to aim a little bit lower. But obviously, things worked
out for me in this challenge. AUSTIN WILKINS: Killed it. And those targets
are regulation, so you don’t have to worry. AUDIENCE: With all the news
of gun violence and gun control being around
lately, I’m just wondering what your
thoughts are around those. AUSTIN WILKINS: Yeah. Clearly, it’s such
a top of mind topic for not just Americans, but
really, across the world. And I think my comment here
is it goes back to education, that often, we have either
decision-makers that they aren’t educated enough. They don’t really
understand what reasonable or
effective solutions might be available for us. And I think when you read
headlines, the media, just in general, they
oversimplify everything. It doesn’t matter
what the topic is. But what I’ve learned is that
there are a lot of nuances. And it’s often not
as simple as saying, hey, we just need to ban
the thing, or restrict it. Now, not to say that
that can’t be effective. But the problem
is certain actions have either unintended
downstream consequences, that if we think, oh, the
shortsighted solution might be to ban the thing. But then downstream– I think about prohibition,
when our country decided, you know what? We’re going to ban alcohol. And what happened? It just gets driven underground. When it is so easy
to make a thing, whether we’re talking
about alcohol, whether we’re talking
about a firearm. A firearm is not
that hard to make. Americans have been making
their own guns for centuries. And so when we talk
about gun violence and possible solutions,
it is much more nuanced and complicated. So one thing that I
really want to share, and a kind of a pretty deep
insight that I’ve learned over the years that touches upon this
topic, is back to the concept that, for a lot of gun owners,
it’s not always about the gun, but it’s about
what it represents. And it comes back to
identity and it comes back to safety, personal safety. For many gun owners, I own a
gun, I feel safe with my gun. I see my gun as the thing
that will protect myself, my family, my
property, et cetera. So when we have
these conversations, when we talk about gun violence,
naturally, the conversation, at some point, will lead to
some kind of conversation around restrictions, banning. Those conversations
strike deep, deep, deep into the heart of gun
owners’ personal identity. Many gun owners, they
see this chatter. And basically, the
interpretation is these people, they don’t want me to
exist, that they don’t agree with the fact that I
own a gun, that they don’t want me or my lifestyle
or my philosophy to exist. And for me, when I
think about being gay, I know what that sensation
is like, that there are people out there who
are vehemently anti-gay. They wish I was dead. They wish all gay people
were dead and disappeared off this earth. And so as a gun
owner, I mean, I also know what that sensation is
like, too, for people to say, oh, I think guns are bad, that
gun owners shouldn’t own guns. But so it comes back to
education and research and really understanding not
just the technical mechanics around firearms,
but there’s also the political and the policy
mechanics around firearms laws and how they’re enforced, or
not enforced, in many ways. At a high level, to
really, I think, address– the heart of your
question is probably like, how do we fix this problem? I mean, I’m saddened and
shocked and horrified every time there’s yet another
instance of gun violence. Nobody wins. Nobody wins when
people are dying. That’s a sort of
core basic tenant. So for me, I think back to,
how can I make a difference? And for me, my small part
is education and training and to really
highlight that look. Your average gun
owner, we’re just regular people who want
to protect ourselves, our loved ones, our
communities to make sure that we all feel safe. So it’s complicated. But I’m also confident that,
ultimately, we’ll get there. I mean, things are
pretty bad right now. They seem to only
be getting worse, but there was a
time in our country where things were better. And I think most
things go in cycles, whether we’re
talking about this, the political
environment, et cetera. So it’s a matter of time, but
if we engage on the topic, we can’t be scared. We can’t be afraid to
talk about these issues, because running
away from problems is not the way to solve them. AUDIENCE: So you were talking
about that really bizarre spear. What’s some of the
other weapons that you were able to get exposed
to that you had never seen before that we’re just
like, wow, what is this? CHRIS CHENG: Yeah. I mean the atlatl was definitely
one of, probably, the biggest like, whoa, what is this thing? But I think another
weapon that comes to mind is the M1919 machine gun. So what’s so cool
about Top Shot is since it’s on the
History Channel, all the challenges
are rooted in history. So the M1919 machine gun, it’s
a World War I, World War II machine gun. And this challenge
that I competed in, they found a half track,
which it’s a big army truck with wheels on the
front, but tank treads in the back with an open bed. And they mounted this
machine gun right into the open bed of
the truck and they sped us competitors at 30
miles an hour down a pathway. And there was a simulated war
field of mortar explosions. And so we had to shoot right
at these exploding targets. And I mean, that was just like
an experience of a lifetime. And I don’t know if I’m ever
going to have an opportunity to do that again. I think another weapon that
was truly fun and unique, it’s a pistol called the FN57. So it’s a 5.7
millimeter round that screams at super high velocity. So it’s a small round– yeah. It’s a super fun gun to shoot. And the challenge
that I was in, it was a SWAT rappelling challenge. So there was a custom
three-story kind of facade that the Top Shot
team built. We’re strapped in with the carabiner,
with a rope, and a pulley kind of device, and shoot
targets through windows, unload holster, rappel
down to the next level, engage more exploding targets. And so that was just
another great challenge, where I did very well, and
had no rappelling or SWAT team experience. That was great. AUSTIN WILKINS: Thank you. We have time for
one more question. I think we had a
hand up over there. AUDIENCE: What age do you
think is appropriate for maybe starting education on guns? For example, I grew
up in the South so I was surrounded by guns. It was much more available and
you develop a different kind of respect for the safety
and the treatment of guns than you might otherwise would. I kind of feel that
it’s important, now that I have children,
to start teaching them– basically, a lot of
gun safety things, don’t play around
with these things. Don’t put your finger
on the trigger. Yeah, I was wondering what
your thoughts were on that. CHRIS CHENG: Yeah,
great question. It is never too young to learn
the basics of firearm safety. So for young children, the
industry has a simple framework for young kids, which is
basically, look, don’t touch, tell an adult. That’s it. So there’s an ambassador. His name is Eddie Eagle. So there’s children’s
books that just reiterate those core
steps, which is actually great for adults, too. Like, look, don’t
touch, go tell an adult. Or go tell a gun owner, hey,
there’s this gun over here. Don’t touch it. The next step, though,
is it’s kind of natural. Well, if you want to
teach your children how to shoot, what’s the right age? And the answer is
it always depends. I mean my father
taught me how to shoot when I was six years
old, and he decided that me being six years
old was sufficient, but not all six-year-olds
are created equal. And so it’s really,
I would say– I mean, I’m not a
parent, but I would say that each
parent needs to make his or her own
determination as to when your child is ready to
learn how to actually shoot. But the basic fundamentals of
safety can start at any age. AUSTIN WILKINS: I think I got
my first rifle in fifth grade. CHRIS CHENG: Very cool. AUSTIN WILKINS: All right. Well, I think that’s all the
time we have for questions. A big round of
applause for Chris. [APPLAUSE]

8 thoughts on “Chris Cheng “Shoot to Win: Training for the New Pistol, Rifle, & Shotgun Shooter” | Talks at Google

  1. Oh…. I was wondering how he got to speak at Google without being avid anti-gun.

    "..and his outreach for LGBT and gay communities."

    He is right about guns being equalizers. It's why we do not need gun control. We need MORE gun ownership. He's also right about the Koreans defending themselves during the Rodney King riots. Same kind of things happened during Katrina in New Orleans. Asians have lived through some very tumultuous times and political uprisings so they well understand the right to self-protection is important. You can't rely on anyone else to protect yourself but you.

    Props to Mr. Cheng for winning Top Shot 3. Keep up the good work and spreading the word.

  2. To answer the biggest question…. If banning guns (all gun for argument sake's) would reduce gun violence, you could show how Chicago's gun violence was reduced after banning ALL guns… But in REALITY it had ZERO effect !!!
    Bad people will do bad things no matter what the laws are. There is a saying that explains this type of situation very well… "The Road the Hell is Paved with Good Intentions".

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