Hey all, let me start by introducing myself. My Name is Ash Hess. I come from a background of knuckle draggers and specialize in doing fun things with my gun friends. Some of you might know me, some may not. The TL;DR version is for the past decade I have been paid to shoot, type about, argue about and train the best use firearms in a combat environment. As the commercial says, “we know a thing or two because we have seen a thing or two”

My background is Army with marksmanship and urban operations focus, so when Sarah reached out about The Proving Grounds, I was very interested. My own company, Quantified Performance, is focused on distance and precision work versus up close rifle and pistol, so Sarah was talking my language with her goals for The Proving Grounds. Over the year I have assisted with two matches and by year’s end will have been at three. What I wanted to do was lay out, from the outside, what to expect at a match and relay what I have seen.

First off, The Proving Grounds is a Mission-oriented event. What I mean by that is the stage design comes from things you might be expected to handle on any job site that involves possible gunfighting. Let me lay out my definitions of that because it’s important later; to me, Gunfighting involves 2+ parties using high-velocity projectiles to send a message. Gunslinging is a one-way range that is as close to a gunfight as possible with a high degree of certainty against injury or death. The Proving Grounds is a real gunslinging match. During the missions (Stages) you will be expected to deal with things that could be in the real world. From the shooting to the fitness aspect, it’s realistic. In 52 months of combat, I never used a trap bar or 400lb sandbags that I had to move alone. I did however have to hump heavy ammo cans, missiles, and gear. Moving Casualties is never easy or fun and I have swung a lot of too

ls and then had to drop the tool and enter right into a gunfight.
This is what the missions look like. There will be a realistic fitness aspect and a shooting aspect. You can be an amazing athlete and a terrible shooter, and you will finish mid-pack. You can be an amazing Shooter and terrible athlete and finish mid-pack. If you are amazing at both, there is probably a podium finish for your future. Having seen the matches from the outside and watching the performance of all the competitors, The Proving Grounds has a great balance of fitness and shooting that will challenge in the right way, without shenanigans, super complicated rulesets, or gear requirements.

I will close with this on the fitness aspect, while being an elite athlete will make a match more fun, it is not a requirement. I have witnessed nothing that is not achievable by anyone that is even marginally fit. You may run out of time, and you won’t be on the podium, but it is possible. It’s work that’s all.

I look forward to adding you all to my list of gun friends to do gun things with.

Shoot Far, Shoot Fast

Ash Hess
Quantified Performance, LLC