Rural Missouri - October 2016 - 30
LIFETIME OF SHOOTING
Lamar man makes name for himself by
shooting and restoring antique guns
by Katelyn Metzger | firstname.lastname@example.org
Above: Lee Shaver has held
multiple world records for longrange shooting. Inset: Lee holds
a bullet that he made for one of
his antique guns.
alking around his shop, Lee Shaver points out muzzleloaders he's built and nonchalantly
offers some impressive information about each gun. "This one now holds the 600-yard
world record," he says. "This one has the 900-yard American record and a few others."
Lee is a world champion long-range shooter and coach and the sole proprietor of Lee Shaver Gunsmithing where he builds and restores antique muzzleloaders out of his shop in Lamar.
With the exception of a brief stint in California as a young child, he's spent his entire life in
southwest Missouri. "I was such a loner growing up," he says. "I was really shy and didn't ﬁt in with
any of the cliques, which probably led me a little bit to where I am today."
Lee's involvement with shooting is tied directly to his father, Gerald, who got introduced to muzzleloaders in the 1950s. After starting shooting at just 5 years old, he received the nickname "Old
Dead Eye" from his dad's buddies three years later after shooting his ﬁrst squirrel right between its
ears. "I would still rather squirrel hunt more than anything really," he says with a laugh.
Lee participated in his ﬁrst shooting match with his father and his friends when he was 11.
Despite the gap in age and experience, his efforts got him 20th place.
"Not bad for a kid," the Barton County Electric Cooperative member says. "I was always trying
to compete against Dad and his buddies. They were a good shot, so I became a good shot too."
His interest in long-range shooting came after joining a local muzzleloaders club in the early
1980s. Lee hit it off with one of the members who told him about 1,000-yard muzzleloader shooting
contests held in the 1870s. "I sat there and called him a liar. I could not fathom anyone could do
that," he says. "He brought down a book on it with article reprints. I was enamored with the idea."
Lee took on the sport in the early 1990s. He participated in his ﬁrst of 12 world championships
in 1999. Approximately 70 people from 10 countries are invited to the world championships to
compete. At this past year's competition, Lee was crowned the world champion at 600 yards by
setting a world record with 46 out of 50 points. He also ﬁnished second in grand aggregate - which
is a combination of ﬁve distances ranging from 300 to 1,000 yards - en route to taking home nine
medals. "The gold ones are prettier than the bronze," he says with a chuckle.
Lee likes to be pushed to his limits by shooting with antique guns. "For me it's the pursuit of
accuracy and doing things the hard way and looking for the next challenge," he says.
He has participated in the world championships both as a shooter and a coach. "What's satisfying for me is setting little goals and reaching them," he says. "It's a constant evolution."
Lee has had the opportunity to travel the world - including South Africa, Europe and in the
future Australia - while doing what he loves.
"I'm from small-town Missouri," Lee says. "I never saw the Mississippi River until I was 25 years old. We didn't travel or go anywhere, so the idea of meeting all these people was really cool. I fell
in love with the idea of international shooting and meeting people
around the world."
Lee's shooting acumen is greatly assisted by the knowledge he
gains building and restoring guns. It was again his father who started
Lee down that path. The ﬁrst gun he refurbished was a gift from his
father when he was 9 years old. His dad taught him the proper way
to work on guns.
"I was 12 or 13 and he showed me how to remount an old worn out
barrel and make it smooth inside again," Lee says. "He made me do all the stuff the hard
way by hand instead of machine. It was an evolution. I was looking for a bigger challenge."
He almost exclusively works on antique riﬂes, only newer guns if no one else knows how to ﬁx the
problem. "If it's 100 years old, I would be interested in it," he says. "If it's not, I'm not."
Lee does a wide range of work including restoration and refurbishing. While doing custom contract work for Winchester in the 1990s, he became bored with the monotonous, repetitive work.
"I didn't want to change parts all the time. It's like changing spark plugs on a car every day of
your life," he says. "I work on this old stuff because every gun is different."
He decided to start his own business so he would have the ability to choose what guns he worked
on. "I got so busy that in order to stay sane, I had to eliminate the parts that I didn't enjoy which
was the more modern stuff. I've been told there's not a handful in the world that really do what we
do as far as restoration of old target riﬂes," Lee says. "There are about a dozen or so guys around
the country that do really good work, but few take on all the projects we do."
To have Lee fully restore a gun, the price can range from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars, depending on the size and condition.
Lee also has built a few riﬂes from scratch including the riﬂe he currently shoots. However, he does not make too many because they are
expensive and take a lot of time and research to make. "Some people
shoot for sentimental reasons, but all of it boils down to people having
an appreciation for old guns," Lee says.
Whether it's his world championship medals or the beautiful restoration jobs he completes, Lee says it is the difﬁculty of the task at hand
"I want to be someone who innovates," he says. "I need a challenge.
That's why I'm shooting 1,000 yards with a muzzleloader. Because
there's simply nothing harder."
For more information on Lee Shaver Gunsmithing call 417-682-3330 or
RURAL MISSOURI | OCTOBER 2016
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - October 2016
Rural Missouri - October 2016 - Intro
Rural Missouri - October 2016 - Cover1
Rural Missouri - October 2016 - Cover2
Rural Missouri - October 2016 - Contents
Rural Missouri - October 2016 - 4
Rural Missouri - October 2016 - 5
Rural Missouri - October 2016 - 6
Rural Missouri - October 2016 - 7
Rural Missouri - October 2016 - 8
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Rural Missouri - October 2016 - Cover3
Rural Missouri - October 2016 - Cover4