Featured Alumnus

Robert Vogel Featured Alumni 2019 Header

By Kim Miller / May 2019

Robert Vogel Featured Alumni 2019Alumnus, Robert Vogel (LAW’02) isn’t your average St. Marys, Ohio business man. In his business, there are no office buildings. There are no fax machines. There are no water coolers or paper jams in the printer. Instead, at his modest house down the road from the family farm, you’ll find a bullet press on the kitchen counter, a climbing rope attached to the ceiling, and gun targets, well, everywhere.

This is all normal and necessary for the 3-time World Champion and 24-time National Champion across three disciplines of practical/combat shooting.

Robert started competing in shooting when he was 19 years old, in the Police Academy at Rhodes State College (where he would eventually become 1st in his class), and headed toward a law enforcement career. He won his very first shooting match, and he hasn’t stopped winning since. The sport of Practical Shooting came naturally to the young man who had grown up hunting, shooting BB guns, and whose home decor proclaims his affinity for Clint Eastwood.

“I decided I wanted to be a cop and got my first handgun when I was 15. So, I skipped the college, partying scene and went straight to the Academy after high school,” he said. “After that, I was a street cop in Kenton [Ohio] but was using up all of my free time and vacation on shooting competitions.”

Eventually, Robert left full-time law enforcement and went to reserve status for the police force. He, then, set out to grow his business, which included sponsorships, teaching, developing his gun sight product line and competing. The highlight of his career has, thus far, been when he travelled to Greece and won the International Practical Shooting Confederation (IPSC) World Shoot, which he describes as his sport’s “Olympics.”

“There’s not a lot of people who understand what I do. I mean, ‘professional shooter.’ What does that mean?” “But,” he said, “there is a niche for it.”

There is, in fact, a niche. Robert has been invited to train Special Forces personnel for the U.S. Military, has travelled worldwide, upon special invitation, to teach shooting and has continued developing his business which is named Vogel Dynamics (vogeldynamics.com).

His expertise has not only been sought by the military and shooters globally, but Robert was hired as an expert on the History Channel’s “Top Shot” in 2012 and has made consistent appearances on the Outdoor Channel.

His success has not come easily. The word, “discipline” litters his spoken biography.

“Number one, without a doubt, beyond anything else, is you’ve got to have the drive to do something. Talent goes along with that. And, you’ve got to have the means to do it,” he said. “But, overall, drive and the discipline to find something and just go after it. To have a singular focus on something for a long period of time does not seem to be human nature, but I tend to be obsessive about this.”

The “this” that he refers to is a craft that “balances accuracy and speed.” Practical shooters compete on a course where targets are placed at different levels and around/behind obstacles. Competitors must run, elevate and crouch down to hit targets. They are scored by the time it takes them to hit all the targets. And, if accuracy is off, and the competitor hits a target too far off-center, time is added to their “score.”

“That’s what makes this competition more real,” he said. “If you watch TV and see a gun fight, the targets are moving and everything is moving very fast.” He continued, “Most gun ranges won’t let you do what we do [at these competitions], because it is, inherently, too dangerous.”

“Money, to me, represents freedom to do things rather than to have things,” he said.

So, with enough money, enough talent and enough trophies to bolster his business, some might wonder if he lives a stress-free life. He laughs at that.

“I’m still competing, so, in the back of my mind, there’s always someone out there working hard; practicing. I feel like I always have to stay in top form. At the end of the day, there’s this list and the best in the world are on it. My name is on that list, and the rest of the world can see it. You obviously don’t want to move down. My mind is constantly scheming…thinking of ways that I can be better; and things I can do.” Last time he checked, he was in the top 5 shooters on that “list.”

In the end, there is a lot more Robert could say about his time on the police force, meeting celebrities like Will Smith, his travels around the world and his goals for the future. But, he summarizes his passion with the joy of a child sitting in front of his first John Wayne movie, “From the beginning it’s just, you know, a good guy with a gun…it’s what they make movies about. I wanted to be one of those guys.”

And, if there was a young man who wanted to just like that—like Robert—he’d tell them, “Be different. Be purposefully different. Be smart and disciplined, and it will affect the rest of your life.”

Robert Vogel Featured Alumni 2019 Robert Vogel Featured Alumni 2019