Talking with Chris Cheng
By Iain Harrison
Chris Cheng is the self-desribed IT geek and winner of Top Shot Season 4 That self-deprecating description belies the fierce competitive streak that underpins his success on the show, despite his lack of formal training.
Chris grew up on Orange County, California, which can hardly be described as a hotbed of gun culture. Despite this, his father still managed to introduce him to shooting at an early age, and once he got his first taste of pulling a trigger, he and his group of 8-year-old friends would tear up the neighborhood with BB guns, wrist rockets and super soakers. After graduating from UCLA, he went on to the prestigious Monterey Institute of International Studies, where unlike many of his peers who entered an assortment of three letter government agencies, he was recruited into the pressure-cooker environment of Silicon Valley. There he learned to handle extreme stress, working for a company whose products you probably use today. I caught up with him after his victory over Greg Littlejohn to ask a few questions on behalf of AmericaRifleman.org.
Harrison: When did you start shooting competitively?
Cheng: I shot IDPA and USPSA matches every weekend in the few months leading up to Season 4, but before that I was pretty much just a recreational shooter, so I went into Top Shot with a lot less experience than most of the other guys. I’ll be shooting the IDPA California state championships next month, along with a couple other members of the Season 4 cast, so it’ll be interesting to see how we do.
Harrison: What were some of the highs and lows of the completion for you?
Cheng: I’m a fiercely competitive kinda guy, so one of the high points was beating William in the elimination challenge with the Henry rifle. He had an early lead, but I just kept plugging away and eventually overtook him for the win. The lowest point had to be when Gabby was eliminated. Chee had no idea that his winning a place in the next event meant that Gabby was going home and both had developed a pretty close friendship. After she left, we all rallied round to try and make sure he kept his head in the game, but he was pretty heartbroken.
Harrison: What are your plans for the future after winning Top Shot?
Cheng: Well, as you know, one of the benefits of the win was the contract with Bass Pro. I’m doing a number of appearances for them at stores around the country, a little firearms training and a speaking engagement. I’m going to be leaving my job in Palo Alto to pursue a couple of other opportunities and shooting in some more competitions.
Harrison: I’m putting together the World’s only night time 3-gun match in July. Want to come out and shoot it?
Cheng: Sign me up.
If you’d like to talk to Chris about his experiences on Top Shot, look for one of his visits to a Bass Pro Shops location. He’s a good guy with outstanding natural talent and always approachable, if you have a question.