Chris Cheng is History Channel’s Top Shot Season 4 Champion. He’s also a gay Chinese American with no formal shooting instruction. Cheng ended up beating 17 other professional marksmen and won $100,000 cash prize and title of “Top Shot” and a contract with Bass Pro Shops. The following year Chris left his job at Google to pursue a career in the outdoor industry fulltime. Cheng is a media personality, strategic consultant, and civil rights advocate in the firearms community.
Shooting at an Early Age
AA: Most Asian families don’t go out to the shooting range with their dad at such an early age. In fact, I’d say most Asian families would never go to a shooting range. Why did your Dad expose you to shooting at an early age?
CC: My Dad decided to take me to the range at an early age. It was a simple father/son bonding activity to learn how to shoot. I have very fond memories of spending time with my father and learning how to safely handle a firearm. That tremendous amount of responsibility contributed to building my confidence at an early age. My father taught me how to be responsible as a child, so that set the stage for me to be responsible as an adult.
Many Asian families’ heritage is from Asian countries where personal gun ownership is illegal. Therefore, it is natural to understand why Asian Americans are historically less represented in the gun community. The 1992 Rodney King Riots changed many minds after Koreatown was under siege. It was up to individual Korean Americans and their personal firearms to protect their stores, families, and homes.
This is a clear, timely example where the government was incapable of protecting its own people. The Second Amendment clearly empowered Asian Americans to take control of their own security and destiny.
The Gun and Shooting Community
AA: Do people in the greater part of the gun and shooting “industry/community” comment on the fact that you’re Asian or gay? If so, is it one more than the other?
CC: The gun industry and community are definitely more interested that I’m gay. Since there just aren’t as many high profile gay people in the industry. It’s been really awesome to see many Asians in an industry [that] I initially thought was predominantly non-Asian. Even my own stereotypes have been busted time and time again. It’s humbling to have your perspective challenged and proven wrong.
AA: As you mentioned none of the competitors cared that you were a gay Asian. Did you think casting yourself as a gay Asian would help give you an edge or was there a bigger purpose in wanting to cast yourself that way?
CC: I grew up and went to school in LA. Due to that, I saw what happened behind the scenes with TV shows. Therefore my application needed to be simple, yet interesting and compelling. I wanted to break stereotypes in a meaningful way that would make people stop for a second and at least question their existing perspectives.
Asians and gay people are sometimes negatively stereotyped as weak (for their respective reasons). However, I’ve never considered myself a weak person. The amazing thing about the shooting community is most gun owners couldn’t care less that I’m Asian or gay.
Chris Cheng works closely with the National Rifle Association, the National Shooting Sports Foundation on the Outreach Advisory Council, and the California Rifle & Pistol Association on promoting shooting sports as well as protecting our Second Amendment rights. His future career plans include running for public office.
If you’d like to know more about Chris Cheng or would like to inquire about public speaking requests you can visit topshotchris.com
Click here to learn more about Top Shot.