Silhouette rifle champion Erich Mietenkorte soared to the top of the National High Power and Small Bore rankings last year and showed no signs of stopping the trend anytime soon. Since her first silhouette contest in 2015, Mietenkorte has knocked down chickens, pigs, turkeys and rams at every opportunity. Find out what he keeps in his storage bag.
Left: Mietenkorte poses with his trophies after winning the 2021 Iron Man Championship. Right: Chris Winstead scouting Mietenkorte at the US High Power Nationals, shooting Rams 500 yards.
What are your earliest memories of handling a firearm?
My earliest memory of pulling the trigger is when I owned my dad’s Feinwerkbau 150 air rifle when I was five. With this rifle, I learned the basics of marksmanship and gun safety. Soon after, I upgraded to single shot .22 with a reduced stock, continuing to hone my marksmanship skills alongside my brother Peter during our weekend family outings to the range.
Tell us how you got started in competitive shooting?
After earning a degree in music education from Central Washington University and becoming a high school music teacher, I found my fall season filled with marching band activity. Finding time to go hunting became difficult. I kept shooting occasionally, but wanted something more challenging. I started testing my shooting skills in 2014 with bullseye pistol shooting. A good friend and fellow band director was a member of the Kittitas Valley Rifle and Pistol Club, a local 50ft covered stand in Ellensburg, Washington. He invited me to try it. I was fine and other members of the club approached me to try out their position in the rifle league. During a league night shoot, longtime silhouette shooter Mel Goudge suggested I try the sport. He invited me to the Conard Bernhardt Silhouette Championship in Pe Ell, Washington. I was hooked. I participated in this match without classification and I finished in class AAA. The people were amazing and welcoming; filming was a challenge and watching those animal silhouettes fly was a ton of fun. All I could think about was when my next game might be.
Erich Mietenkorte’s Small Bore Silhouette Rifle features a P40 Warhawk theme.
Please share with us some of your major shooting achievements.
Last year I won the US National High Power Standard Rifle Championship. A second-place finish in the shotgun class earned me enough points to win the 2-Gun Aggregate High Power National Championship as well. Since I started competing, I have won 16 NRA Regional Championship medals and over 25 State Championship titles in multiple states.
What firearms and other equipment do you use for competition?
My Small Bore Silhouette Shotgun is built around a Holeshot Arms Trident three-legged single-shot action made by Jerry Stiller. As for my high powered silhouette rifles, I use the Defiance Rebel actions. For the standard high power rifle category my caliber of choice is the Lapua 6.5x47mm and for the shotgun I use a BR 6mm. My small-bore and high-powered silhouette rifles are made to similar specifications to make transitions between them easier. They really only differ in weight. All three rifles have Benchmark barrels, Bix’n Andy two-stage triggers, and 25-power Leupold FX-3 scopes. All are built into custom silhouette stocks made by Steve Wooster of Chehalis, Washington. These precision gear pieces receive only the best ammunition and components available, which come from the Capstone Precision Group, including SK Ammo, Lapua Ammo and Components, Berger Bullets, and VihtaVuori Powder.
Erich Mietenkorte and spotter Chris Winstead discuss optimal shot placement at the Silhouette Nationals.
Tell us about your shooting bag and what you carry in it besides your firearms.
My range bag is a Savior Gear Specialist in OD Green. I had the opportunity to check them out at the SHOT Show this year and just had to grab one.
I really like how it holds its structure and is built really sturdy. It has plenty of room for everything I need for a day at the range, including my SSP Methow eyepro kit, earplugs, shooting journal and notebook, assorted tools and a few construction bricks. ammunition SK. I also have my Triggercam 2.1 and my custom Vans shooting shoes in the bag.
What do you do in your free time?
During the off-season, I love to ski. I am a ski patroller at Snoqualmie Pass and Mission Ridge and enjoy helping those in need on the mountain. I use my musical talents playing trumpet in the Ellensburg Big Band which is mostly jazz and swing music. I’ve also been known to show up to some matches with my rifle strapped to the back of my trusty BMW GS Adventure motorcycle. Above all, I love to travel and explore with my future wife, Laura.
What would you say to someone who wants to know more about your sport?
Rifle silhouette is an incredibly fun and rewarding sport. The easiest way to start is to go to a match and shoot. One of the greatest things about the Rifle Silhouette is the people you’ll meet. You can show up to a match without a gun or ammo and in no time you’ll find more than one person willing to borrow both from you. If you ever see me at a game, come say hi, you can borrow mine. To hook up with silhouette shooters, read the rulebook on the NRA website and check out steelchickens.com. Also subscribe to The Rifle Silhouette Channel on YouTube and check out upcoming NRA events.
Any tips for new shooters?
Rifle shooting is a difficult discipline and can be quite humbling at times. It’s important not to get discouraged if your first attempt doesn’t go the way you expect. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or ask for help. Don’t forget to have fun and make new friends.