Niki Jones: My Day At Gunsmoke
Niki Jones, founder of the all-female shooting group, the Austin Sure Shots, is one of the coolest chicks I have met in my time as a shooter. I asked her to whip up a little guest blog to tell us about her time at Gunsmoke for an episode of American Guns on the Discovery Channel (Weds 9/8pm).
When I found out I had the opportunity to fly to Colorado to see about trading in my (in)famous “Snow Queen” AR-15 for a bigger, badder AR-10, it was bittersweet. I wanted to bring back something for the girls of the Sure Shots (my women’s pistol league in Austin, TX) that we didn’t already have. We already had plenty of AR-15s, since about a dozen of us participated in our Sure Shots AR-15 Build Project where we built our own rifles, each one as unique as its owner. But we didn’t have any AR-10s among us, and a bunch of the girls had been saying they’d like to get into some long-range precision shooting.
Though I knew that sacrificing the Snow Queen for the good of the league was the right decision, I still had a pit in my stomach at the idea of being without her. I mean, I had built her myself, each and every part chosen by me to make my dream gun (Lightweight 16″ Moly barrel, free-floated and coated; POF railed hand guard, coated; Battle Comp compensator; Spikes Tatical lower, coated; Bravo Company Gunfighter charging handle; NIB Bolt Carrier Group; Ergo Stock; MagPul Grip; MagPul BAD Lever; MagPul Rail Sling Attachment; MagPul Gen III Sling; Troy BUIS; AImpoint Pro red dot optic). The Snow Queen was truly a labor of love, and it didn’t hurt that she shoots like a dream either.
So, I packed my bags and headed off to Denver to visit GunSmoke, Snow Queen in tow. I had seen American Guns before and loved the show, and I was curious to see what the Wyatts were like in real life. Well, they could not have been nicer. The first person I met was Renee, when I walked into GunSmoke and she was at the counter. She was super friendly and got really excited when she learned I had started a women’s pistol league that in only a year and a half had over 150 members. Rich was the same. I didn’t know he was such a huge supporter of women and guns, but it was clear almost immediately that my “cause” was close to his heart, and that this deal would happen.
The producers, who were as equally as nice and welcoming as the Wyatts, had told me to just be myself and walk in and negotiate like it was any other regular deal. Easier said than done—having giant lights and cameras pointing at you is nerve-wracking, to say the least. But when I described to Rich what I wanted in a precision rifle, he was very receptive. And when I threw in that I also wanted a grenade launcher, both Rich and Renee were DELIGHTED! I could tell I had ‘em…
I had to place a trade-in value on my gun, so I went with $3,000 due to all of the Snow Queen’s top-of-the-line parts, perfect custom paint job, and all-around uniqueness. When he said he’d give me $2K for the Snow Queen and that the AR-10 would be $10K, I didn’t balk TOO much—I expected that he would want the gun he builds the Sure Shots to be top-of-the-line as well, and I knew that AR-10 parts are not as varied and available as an AR-15. But, we couldn’t stop there. I’m originally from New York, and New Yorkers are born negotiating! So instead of accepting the $8K difference, I came back with $7K. When he said he just couldn’t do that, I bluffed that I was going to walk—but in all honesty, I wasn’t leaving there without sealing the deal! I’d come too far and already committed to my mission. Luckily, he didn’t let me walk out, and he agreed to $7K. It was ON.
They took a couple weeks building my gun, and then I flew back for the “reveal” of the Sure Shots’ AR-10. I had assumed it would happen in the store, so once I realized the American Guns producers had me heading toward the mountains, there was a great feeling of adventure and excitement! I pulled up to an old quarry in the middle of nowhere. The American Guns crew was waiting at the top of a cliff, and they wouldn’t let me near the edge to see what was down below. The suspense was killing me!
FINALLY, the moment had come. I was about to finally see the AR-10 I’d been dreaming about! Standing on top of that cliff, Rich, Renee, and Paige presented me with the most INSANE rifle I’d ever seen… and it was WHITE! It looked like the Snow Queen on steroids! And like the Snow Queen, it had some black accents, including a badass scope accurate to 700 yards, and even some little black cross-bones on the scope brackets! But the pièce de résistance was the grenade launcher I’d asked for! Big and black and badass, it sat underneath the rail and just took the rifle to the next level! I knew the Sure Shots would die when they saw it!
Once I was finished freaking out over the rifle, it was time for them to reveal what was over the cliff. They had set up a full tactical course for me, complete with exploding targets, each of which said “SURE SHOTS, Austin, Texas” and had a life-sized pinup girl beside it! But first, I had to take a long-range shot. So into the prone position I went, right there on the edge of the cliff. From experience with these rifles, I was expecting a much bigger impact when I pulled the trigger, but this gun was smooth… no recoil at all! I was in love. Then it was onto the tac course, and it was a blast! Rich took me through it—we literally ran down the side of the cliff, and I had to shoot targets whenever he spotted one and called it out. And the targets exploded! At this point I could tell by the way the cameramen were shooting us that they were going to be able to totally capture the action and the excitement, so that was one less thing for me to worry about!
Then, when I thought it couldn’t get any more fun, Renee called out on the two-way radio from where she stood on the cliff that there was a cluster of targets around the corner we were coming up on, and to “Use the grenade launcher!”… so that’s what I did. Switched over to the launcher, and let one fly. HUGE explosion! So much fun. I mean, how can it NOT be fun to blow things up in the middle of Nowhere, Colorado on a random Tuesday afternoon?
And, then it was over. And I flew back to Texas. I kept the news of my adventure under wraps until close to the time my episode aired because I really wanted to surprise the Sure Shots, and to say they were surprised is an understatement! And the Wyatts have kept in touch—Renee and I have been emailing, and Rich called in during our episode’s viewing party to say hello to all the girls! I’m hoping Renee and Paige will come out to Austin and shoot with us soon. All in all, it was one of the most fun experiences I’ve ever had, and I’d do it again in a heartbeat!
Thanks Niki! And keep up the amazing work!