We’ve had one helluva year at Modern Day Sniper. It’s been a wild ride full of new experiences, tremendous amounts of growth, and plenty of lessons learned. I couldn’t be more happy to be sitting here composing this year’s review post. As much as I’m looking forward to this coming year, I’m also looking back at the lessons that 2021 provided us. We’re growing, and learning how to scale has been a welcome challenge. We’ve got so many kick-ass ideas to bring to the table, but ideas are the easy part. As people in this modern age we’re so focused on charging ahead, chasing that hustle, “doing better”, and ultimately thinking and feeling as if we’re not doing enough as a result. “Moving the goalpost” is a phrase my wife uses on me all the time because I’m absolutely guilty of it. It’s definitely not a bad thing to have the drive, but it becomes a bad thing when we forget to take stock of what we’ve accomplished and give credit where it’s due.
We went full-throttle into 2021 with focus and ambition to make a long-lasting positive impact on our community of discerning long range shooters. Here’s a recap of how it went down and what the year held.
The Modern Day Sniper Podcast
The true genesis of what we now see as Modern Day Sniper was our podcast. Kicked off at the 2020 SHOT show we released our first episode having absolutely zero idea what would happen. We didn’t know what we were doing and literally gave it our best guess. For all we knew it could have been a giant flop! The response was quite the contrary, and to this day continues to be incredibly humbling.
We became the fastest growing podcast in our space, seconded only by Frank Galli’s The Everyday Sniper. Coming up on our two year anniversary on January 21 we couldn’t have imagined where we’d be. At 2,500 subscribers and coming up on 500K downloads, averaging 30K a month, it blows me away every time I look at those numbers…
Thank you all for listening!
As we evaluate where we’re at with the podcast, we’re always looking at how to create entertaining but educational content, and follow the trends our listeners tell us with some key points. We’ll be more consistent with our delivery. Consistency is important to us too, and we know you guys have the bandwidth to consume more episodes! We’re going to improve our recording quality for over the road episodes as those are always great to record because of the real-time debriefs of the things we’ve seen at classes we’re teaching. We’re also going to create some interesting series inviting more industry professionals to share their knowledge.
The Modern Day Rifleman Network
If I had to define our biggest accomplishment this year, it would be the Modern Day Rifleman network. This has become the heart and soul of our community. Much like the podcast, we had no idea what the follow-on effects of building the Modern Day Rifleman network would be. We changed the digital training game with our masterclasses. As a result of that we wanted to bring a monthly subscription service to life to reduce the barriers for entry into receiving quality precision rifle training. I wanted to defy the norm of just “go to a class” because going to a class isn’t always realistic for people. Time and budgets being the big limitation. Talking with Phil, we knew we could bring you guys an amazing tool that you’d get something out of every month. We knew we could build excellent shooters virtually because we know how to train shooters at the foundational level. As we sat together on a hillside glassing for bears in Washington we put together the year’s list of topics and classes during the late summer months of 2020.
In order to do this we needed a platform that fit the bill. Not an easy thing to do. Technology platforms require lots of time to learn, and they can be pretty complex. Our team is small and we’re not web developers so we needed something manageable, fast, and easy to use. Our masterclasses were hosted on a decent platform, but that one was a bit clunky and Kassandra wasn’t too stoked on building our monthly subscription service on it. Kass found the Mighty Network through one of her own online training courses and after she dug into it, she said that this was the way to go. She wasn’t wrong, and this has been the best move of 2021 for us.
A privately owned company, The Mighty Network is built for online learning with some incredible features. It’s a social network combined with a digital learning structure and it’s pretty genius. As I looked through it it was everything we needed, but I had one concern; what was the company’s stance on what we did at Modern Day Sniper? Kassandra had a direct line to the CEO, so I sent her a message outlining what Modern Day Sniper is, who we were, and what we wished to use this platform for. I surely didn’t wish to sink a ton of money, time, and effort into a platform that wasn’t friendly to our mission. The response was perfect. “As long as you don’t violate any of our community guidelines, we wish you the absolute best.” The guidelines are about as simple as it gets; #dontbeadick and everything will be fine.
With over 2,300 very active members our community is growing daily. The Modern Day Rifleman network is where we host our online social community, our monthly subscription service, and our growing lineup of industry-leading digital masterclasses. What makes this community so awesome to us is the people. It’s a different vibe. Everyone is interested in seeing growth, and the environment is all about fostering it. We actually monitor our post threads and our community is free from the social media norms of presumptuous and snarky comments, memes and trolls. It’s just discerning shooters looking to help each other out.
Our industry leading masterclasses are the most in-depth and comprehensive online learning experiences available in the firearms industry. I can say that with certainty and confidence. Nowhere else can you find the quality of production coupled with the level of detail in instruction. This year we released three new masterclasses, Positional Shooting, Wilderness Land Navigation and our Prep To Hunt Series. This brings our total masterclass count to 9, which includes our 2020 Modern Day Rifleman Virtual Summit. To date we’ve had over 2,600 people register for our masterclasses.
You can expect to see a couple more additions to the lineup this coming year; Tripod Shooting and Handloading for Long Range, and you’ll see our Prep To Hunt Series come back to life at full speed to get you prepped for the 2022 season!
If you haven’t seen our list of masterclasses yet, cruise over to the MDS Schoolhouse and have a look.
2021 saw a huge increase in our in-person class offerings, although we did get crushed with ammunition and component availability issues that held a lot of people back from attending. Our students persevered though, and many of our classes were sold out. We taught over 24 classes in 2021 across the nation, and at our home bases of Yakima and now Cody, Wyoming.
Our new class naming convention is out, so make sure you familiarize yourself with what we’ve got for you in 2022 if you haven’t seen it yet. Slots are filling up fast already guys, so make sure you get in on a class if you’re interested.
We’ve got a new venue in the mix that we’ll be running classes out of this coming spring and summer and it’s absolutely stunning. Heart Mountain, just outside of Cody, WY is truly beautiful, but it’s also a world-class mountain shooting opportunity that any western mountain hunter or competitor should get themselves to. Philip will be heading up classes there while I run classes from my home range in Yakima from April to August.
We’ll be taking on our first international training endeavor in the UK for 2022 as well! We’re really excited to have linked up with the PRS UK boys where we’ll be running four classes in the month of September in the Scottish Highlands. If you’re a European shooter, this is a fantastic opportunity! We’ll have more information on how to get signed up shortly, but you can reach out to the PRS UK guys for more information.
2021 was a great year for competing with a lot of matches under both myself and Phillip’s belt. I shot a bunch of local events and had the pleasure of taking home a win at a facility I’d never shot at before here in eastern Washington called the Lead Farm. Phillip was active in the new NRL Hunter Series, the PRS and the NRL. Phillip recently competed in the PRS finale as well. I also shot a couple NRL Hunter matches and I was really impressed with how fun the format is, and the training value that any practical shooter can get from it.
Phillip and I competed in our first team match together at Granite Creek, Montana. It being our first time shooting together as a team we went with the intention of having a good time as friends, and learning how to communicate as a team. It worked out because we won the match by a decent margin under some really tough opponents and conditions. Mission accomplished on both fronts!
Expect to see us both competing in 2022 when we can fit it in. We’re going to pay a lot of focus to the NRL Hunter series and our northwest Rifleman’s Team Challenge series. I’ve learned a lot of lessons from competing, many of those lessons being my relationship with self and competition. I’ve long struggled in my relationship with competition and I’ve made it a point to change my perspective on it and document my journey this year. I look forward to sharing it with you all.
Last year Modern Day Sniper contributed over $30K in event prize table donations to various organizations within our community. I’m of the belief that our sport grows from the ground up and that happens at the local level through small events, and supporting the bottom 90% of the shooters that show up to matches. Training is an important component to improvement and everyone wants to shoot at a higher level than they did at the last event. We’re committed to furthering the reach of our community and cultivating growth. Expect to see us continue that support, and keep your eyes out for some training certificates at the next event. Scoop em’ up, cuz you’ll have an edge on everyone else that walked by looking for gear!
This past year gave us some more memories of adventure in the mountains, and some firsts! Phillip dipped his toes in the water of hunting a couple years ago and he’s full on hooked! It’s been awesome to watch, and as luck would have it Phil drew a great rifle elk tag in Wyoming for 2021. I was super pumped for him, and with a fellow network member and Cody, WY local Clayton Creel helping him out I knew he was going to have a helluva time. Phil crushed it with a dandy for his first bull. I was bummed I couldn’t be there, but there’ll be more seasons to come. I was just happy to see my friend find joy in his adventure.
I was able to connect on a nice mountain buck myself while on a solo trip. I learned some valuable lessons about mountain winds on that adventure with a missed shot that’ll I remember for a long time, if not forever. You can listen about it in MDS Episode #0055 if you want the backstory. I wasn’t able to connect on a bear this year, so the saga of Caylen and bears continues…
Bringing it Home
As I stated in the beginning of this year in review; we wouldn’t be here without our customers. You guys constantly blow us away with your kindness and we can’t thank you enough for that. Over 100 5-star Google reviews is pretty rad for a business, and all I can say is that we’re not going to let up for 2022!
It’s going to be another year of applying lessons learned. It’s going to be another year of growth, business as well as individual. We’re welcoming it all with open arms.
Some things that we’re going to work on improving for you in 2022:
- More podcasting consistency! We know you want it…
- More technical classes in our webinars. We see the trends with attendance and we’re listening.
- More sniper-focused training programs for our professional customers.
- More videos! We’ve got a list…
Thanks again to everyone. You all absolutely kick ass. Here’s to another badass year!
Caylen W. and the Modern Day Sniper Team
And as Phillip always reminds us, keep your face on the gun.