Federal Premium Ammunition and Champion Traps and Targets join the rest of the outdoor industry and fans across the world in mourning the loss of Tom Knapp. The world famous exhibition shooter dazzled audiences with live shows in countries all over the globe. He graced the television screen and was a regular at industry gatherings, events and shows. As a shooter and a showman, he was unparalleled. Knapp held three world records, was an industry icon and made friends wherever he traveled. Knapp passed away Friday, April 26 at the age of 62.
Knapp and his wife Colleen, along with their dogs, lived minutes from the Federal Premium Ammunition factory in Anoka, Minn. He was sponsored by Federal Premium and sister company Champion Traps and Targets for more than a decade and was considered a dear friend by many. Throughout his career Knapp enjoyed relationships with several companies in the industry, and he was liked and respected by all.
“Tom’s uncanny shooting ability and stage presence were obvious to all who saw him perform,” said Federal Premium Vice President Kyle Tengwall. “His passing brings great sadness to the entire industry. Our hearts go out to his wife Colleen and the rest of their family. Tom was an exceptional steward of the shooting sports and an amazing performer. Above all that, he was a friend. We will all miss him dearly.”
Setting Records, Making Friends
Tom Knapp was one of the best ambassadors the shooting sports have known. Knapp took his inspiration from Herb Parsons, and followed in the footsteps of the famous exhibition shooter to the big stage. Knapp almost single-handedly returned exhibition shooting to the limelight with his combination of shooting skills and stage presence in live performances starting in 1987. Along the way he inspired an entire generation of new exhibition shooters who can be seen in similar live shows across the country.
On stage, Knapp made near-impossible shots look routine—but what really set him apart was how he interacted with his fans. He thrilled audiences with his mastery and creativity of shooting—and kept them in their seats with quick wit and a polished presentation unlike anyone today.
People would travel near and far to see Knapp shoot. And they would never leave disappointed. Knapp was so good, he even knew how to miss. On the rare occasions when Knapp didn’t hit his target, he took it in stride. There was no stopping the show, cursing under his breathe or sorry excuses. Knapp would chuckle, and give the audience about five “reasons” why the target wasn’t hit in the air—and proceed. Knapp was a showman no matter how his day was going. And this carried over after his shows.
At his peak, Knapp would do more than 100 live shows per year, often traveling tens of thousands of miles without a break. Yet he routinely greeted long lines of amazed fans after his show. Knapp would often remain on site and exchange handshakes, photo opportunities and conversations until the last person got a chance to say hi. Knapp’s ability to make friends, and greet everyone with the same enthusiasm he showed on stage, truly set him apart.
Knapp dedicated his life to performing on stage. He created several other opportunities for himself with his larger than life personality and genuine zeal for hunting, shooting and the outdoors. When Knapp wasn’t wowing fans young and old, he relished opportunities afield. He was an avid fisherman and hunter.
Federal Premium and Champion Traps and Targets pay tribute to a friend gone too soon at www.federalpremium.com, www.championtarget.com and on Facebook at A Tribute to Tom. There will never be another Tom Knapp, but the hope remains that the legacy he left behind lives on and is passed on to future generations of hunters, shooters and outdoor enthusiasts.
Image courtesy ATK Sporting