Last year, Kenshiro (Ken) Nagata became the youngest shooter to become World Speed Shooting Champion after winning the Pistol Caliber Carbine Optics title with a record run. Grand Master of the Steel Challenge in six divisions, he is also the first shooter in the discipline to achieve a peak time of less than 50 seconds. Find out what Nagata keeps in her storage bag.
Kenshiro Nagata is the youngest sprint world champion in the history of the sport.
What are your earliest memories of handling a firearm?
At six years old, I shot an AMT Custom Shop 10/22. My dad wanted me to experience shooting so I could dip my toes into the idea of shooting guns. However, at that time, my build was small, so I was only going to shoot a few times a year.
Tell us how you got started in competitive shooting?
During the summer of 2019, all I did was sit at home and do nothing. So my mom wanted me to go shoot with my dad. One day, I asked to accompany him to practice. At the range, he introduced me to the Steel Challenge and the idea of competitive shooting. He brought the same AMT Custom Shop 10/22 for me to shoot. By then, I was tall enough to handle the weapon better. It felt light and easy to maneuver. It was my first step into the world of competitive shooting. After that, I started training every week with my dad. (Note: his father is longtime Bianchi Cup and action pistol competitor Ichiro Nagata.—Ed.)
Magnum Research, Modshot, and Wiland USA helped Nagata build his 10/22 competition exactly the way he wanted.
What firearms and other equipment do you use for competition?
In Rimfire Rifle Optics and Irons I use a Magnum Research Swithbolt, with a Kidd single stage trigger and a Modshot chassis. On my Optics rifle, I use a C-More RTS2 (six MOA). As for the irons, these are the Wiland USA front and rear sights. For ammo I mainly shoot Eley Force and CCI Clean. Both weapons weigh approximately four pounds and two ounces. They both hold tight groups at 50 yards, and I never worry about malfunctions.
In Rimfire Pistol I fire a Nelson Custom Guns conversion system on a 2011 titanium frame. The Nelson rod works perfectly and is constructed in a similar fashion to my Open pistol. Thus, practicing one imitates the other. I also have a CMore RTS2 on this gun (six MOA). The gun is perfectly balanced with no side being too heavy or light. Also, I never worry about malfunctions with Eley or CCI ammo.
At the 2021 World Speed Shooting Championship, Nagata set a new Pistol Caliber Carbine Optics Division World Record at 59.27 seconds.
For pistol caliber rifle optics and irons, I shoot the same stocking and swap rods when changing divisions. The top receivers are all Taccom. Each rod sports a Taccom Standard bolt, along with the company’s top receiver, 10/16 barrel, and ultralight handguard. For the Optics division, I use a Wilcox Boss-XE sight, and I also have a Novel Arms Surehit Master mounted 45 degrees behind the Boss-XE. For the Pistol Caliber rifle irons, I use the same setup as the optics, but the dot sights are replaced with a Striplin Custom Gunworks phantom front sight and Striplin front sight.
In the Open Division, my gun is built from a 2011 STI steel frame. I have a TEVO Sports thumb lock attached to the frame, with FTP Shooting Sports Alpha on top (six MOA). The Trigger, Trigger, Leaf Spring, Disconnector, and Hammer are all Infinity Guns. The handle is a standard 2011 polymer handle that has been modified to fit my hands. The slide is a Caspian, with a three-port composition and a Bar-Sto barrel. For ammo, I run Federal American Eagle in 9mm. This gun is smooth and reliable. In Carry Optics I shoot a standard Glock G17 with a slide milled to fit a Picatinny rail on the back. Above the rail is an Aimpoint Micro dot sight. The trigger is a Timney Glock trigger that has been lightened by Taran Tactical, and the barrel is by Bar-Sto.
Nagata was the 2021 Junior Champion in the Open, Pistol Caliber Carbine Optics, Rimfire Rifle Open and Carry Optics divisions.
Tell us about your shooting bag and what you carry in it besides your firearms?
My range bag is made by Tuff Products. It has a simple and discreet design, but is also quite wide, which makes it easy to store in the car. There are two inside pockets where I put my pistols. Each pocket has a divider with room for four pistols inside. In the center of the bag there is a nice wide pocket that offers enough space to hold all my shooting glasses, hearing protection and magazines. Then on the outside of the bag is an extra pocket that holds my extra magazines.
I always bring my main sources of eye and ear protection – my pair of Hunters Gold goggles in Oakley frames and Grizzly Ears Predator Pro headphones. Besides protection, I carry spare batteries, a stopwatch and Hoppe lubrication. I’m also packing six Glock magazines and six 2011 magazines, both with Taran Tactical baseplates, as well as six .22 Long Rifle Nelson Custom widebody magazines and a dozen Ruger BX-10 10-round magazines fitted with bases Kurt Grimes. To save time in preparing magazines, I also bring a Maglula loader for each type of magazine.
For her success in competition, Nagata credits her father with “always supporting me during training and [making] me a better shooter.
What do you do in your free time?
In my free time, I practice a lot of dry shooting, speedcubing, piano, airsoft shooting and running.
What would you say to someone who wants to know more about your sport?
I recommend browsing online and watching people shoot, to get a good idea of what you’re getting into. Also check out my Instagram page (@Kenshiro_nagata) for tips and tricks on shooting Steel Challenge. If you’ve decided to try your luck at the Steel Challenge, visit the website and search for matches near you. After finding a good place, I recommend you go to a game and just watch. This will give you an idea of what equipment you might need and how to protect yourself.
Any tips for new shooters?
First, stay safe. Competitive shooting is a fun sport that will give you a hard time while you are online. Because of that, you might forget about security. Always wear your eye and hearing protection and control your muzzle. Just follow these rules to keep shooting. As for practice, take time out of your day to practice dry-firing. Even 10 minutes a day will help your eyes learn to move faster and help you get used to moving your weapon. Finally, one of the most important aspects: stay humble. No matter how many world titles you have, if you’re not humble, you won’t make things fun with other shooters. So, always make sure to stay within yourself and have fun.