Glen Zediker knows a lot about guns. As a competitive marksman, he fires them. As a writer, he writes about them. And as a community member, he teaches them.
Zediker, a middle-aged wiry man who looks like an outdoorsman, grew up on a cattle ranch in a tiny Colorado community. In his town, guns were a sport; the high school even had a team. They practiced in the school gym; there’s a page in his high school yearbook that shows kids– including Zediker himself– posing with rifles under the basketball hoop. “In that town of 400,” Zediker tells me over a cup of coffee at Dunn’s Family Steakhouse, “We’d get a better turnout for a rifle match that I do now when I shoot in Memphis.”
Zediker first moved to Water Valley over 20 years ago. His mother, a Surrette prior to marriage and a born-and-bred Water Vallian, had returned to Mississippi from the Colorado ranch. When she began ailing, Zediker came to care for her and earned his B.A. at Ole Miss while he was here. He returned to the Valley for good in 1996, attracted by “the slower pace” of life in the South, and two years later, shifted from writing about golf to focusing on his old passion: competitive shooting. As a self-employed writer, he set up a website (www.zediker.com) and began writing articles for publications such as GUNS magazine.
Ten years later, Zediker has written books with titles like “Slings And Things: a guide to all things worn, carried, dragged behind, and attached to an NRA High Power shooter and his rifle”, “Handloading for Competition”, and “The Competitive AR-15.” Articles include “M14 Maintenance” and a host of other technical how-tos, as well as overviews of training with air rifles.
So who buys these books from Zediker’s website? Apparently, shooters who are serious about improving their scores; Zediker tells me that shooting is a sport like any other, and requires know-how about technique. “The gun’s a part of it,” he says, “but the main part is the person.”
Writing about shooting isn’t just a day job. Zediker has carried over his passion for competitive shooting into his private life. As the single father of two young boys, Zediker appreciates that he can spend time with his sons competing in a sport where “you don’t have to be six-and-a-half feet tall or bench press 300 pounds.” The three enjoy competing with each other so much that they even converted a room in their home into an air rifle range. At age 10, the eldest son Matthew is already classified as a Distinguished Expert in the National Rifle Association, while Zediker ranks as a High Master with a score class of over 97 percent.
“It’s a sport we can do concurrently,” Zediker says. “There’s not too many like that.”
After seeing how much his own kids enjoyed shooting, Zediker decided to offer his knowledge to the community. For the past three years, Zediker has led the competitive shooting program of the Yalobusha 4-H Club, instructing youngsters from ages eight to eighteen in the art of aiming rifles. “My motivation in that is partially selfish and partially not,” he says, saying that he likes to spend as much time with his sons as he can. “But I love working with kids. I like to see kids get motivated.”
As we sit and talk over our lunch, it becomes clear that Zediker sees shooting as a kind of pure sport, where mind triumphs over brawn. He tells me that he sees the gun as a tool, not as a weapon. In fact, Zediker never fires at anything besides a target: he is not a hunter. For this man, it’s all about the competition. “With a little bit of focus,” he says, “any kid can do really well. It’s open to everybody.”
Of course, as a father and a coach, Zediker dwells on making sure that safety comes first. “Competitive shooting is all about safety,” he says. Zediker doesn’t just instruct the children in safety fundamentals, but also tries to teach the mechanics of guns. “Accidents are always preventable if you know how things work,” he says. “I don’t worry about my kids.”
As a writer, parent, and coach, Zediker has found the art of competitive shooting to be a way of life. “It’s definitely a subculture,” admits Zediker, his eyes crinkling. For this man, it’s a rewarding one.