There was a time when Brad Engmann would gun his race car; these days he races with his gun.
Like other kids in his St. Francis Woods neighborhood, the San Francisco native grew up playing American Legion baseball; in fact, the middle infielder was instrumental in launching the baseball program at International High School.
At USF, however, the 2006 graduate with a double major in history and political science switched his allegiance to cars.
“What I loved was the speed and precision,” Engmann said.
But the associated expense and garage time needed to work on the cars began to create a drain on his wallet and his studies.
It was time for another change.
Engmann, who at age 13 had become adept at static shooting after he convinced his dad to take him to a firing range, returned to a more challenging version of the sport 10 years later when he discovered practical shooting, which involves hitting targets while running an obstacle course.
“It’s a tightrope between speed and accuracy; you have to be really fast, but you have to hit what you’re aiming at,” Engmann said. “The term I use is racing with a handgun.”
The 28-year-old shooting instructor, author and Olympic Club Pistol Commissioner is also one of the country’s top shooters, and in the summer of 2010 was, for a brief time, a television star.
“I was a controversial character on the show,” Engmann said of his experience as an outspoken cast member on the History Channel reality program “Top Shot,” where he was eliminated in the seventh week of the 10-episode inaugural season.
In July of this year, Engmann won the Amateur Limited Division of the 2011 Handgun Pro-Am Championship. The following month he captured the Stock Service Pistol Division title in the 2011 Steel Challenge World Championships held in Piru.
On Sept. 10, Engmann married Marcela. After a three-day Puerto Vallarta honeymoon, he flew to Las Vegas for the United States Practical Shooting Association National Handgun Championships. Engmann won the Southwest States Production Division Regional Championship and finished third in the Northwest States. The marksman also improved his national standing from 23rd in 2009 to 14th last year to eighth in 2011.
Engmann and his Smith and Wesson are currently taking a break from competition, although he continues to shoot and teach at the Richmond Rod and Gun Club.
And he’s embarking on a new endeavor. Marcela has registered the newlyweds for salsa lessons.
Hitting his target
WHO: Brad Engmann
PRACTICAL SHOOTING: Consists of three targets, 10 yards away, spaced three yards apart; Engmann hits each target’s center mass twice in 2.5 seconds.
SPORTSMAN: Engmann has never been a hunter
TRAINING: Engmann shoots 36,000 rounds per year.
AUTHOR: Modern Handgun Fundamentals, available on Amazon.com
TOP SHOT: The fourth season of the reality series on the History Channel comes back next spring