YouTube shooting sensation 22plinkster is a familiar face to fans around the world. His collection of more than 270 videos featuring rimfire trick shots and other entertaining shooting demonstrations has to date attracted 304,000 subscribers and garnered more than 30 million views.
Yet few of even his most loyal followers know the full backstory behind one of the Internet’s most popular and prolific firearms personalities. Take the fortuitous way he first landed online.
“It all happened by accident,” laughs the likeable, 37-year-old middle Tennessee native, who goes by the stage name Dave Nash but prefers to keep his true identity confidential.
“A friend and I were talking about an episode of the TV show ‘Top Shot,’ in which a contestant hit a golf ball with a .22 rifle at 100 yards,” he recalls. “My buddy said it was the biggest luck shot in the world. I disagreed, and decided to prove it to him by making a similar shot, only with a pistol instead.”
To record the shot for posterity, Nash grabbed his smartphone and, with camera rolling, knocked the ball off a tee as promised.
“It was the most awkward video on YouTube,” he grins. “And if fact, the first time I made the shot I had forgotten to hit record, so I had to do it all over again.”
To upload his video, Nash had to set up a YouTube account.
“’22plinker’ was taken, so I became 22plinkster—which was fine because when I was growing up, every nickname had ‘ster’ at the end of it,” he adds.
Nash posted his video on Dec. 2, 2011, sent his friend a link to the video and forgot about it.
“But then a few weeks later, I got a notification that somebody had commented on it,” he says. “I checked and it said ‘nice shot.’ Plus, the video had 173 views, which was a surprise. Then the same guy asked me if I could do another trick shot, and I really started having fun with it.”
Pulling From His Roots
As the number of videos, views and subscribers grew, Nash drew on a lifelong love of shooting to dream up and complete a variety of amazing shots.
“My dad introduced me to shooting at an early age,” he explains. “He let me shoot an old bolt-action .22 Weatherby when I was 5. We were squirrel hunting and hadn’t seen anything, so he set up a golf ball 30 feet away and let me try to hit it. When I saw the ball go flying away, I was hooked.”
Nash continued building his channel’s library of trick shot videos, then expanded into a slightly different genre.
“Trick shots are cool, but people also really like videos on other fun aspects of shooting, like how many cans of silly string a .22 long rifle will go through,” he said. “If you split a playing card through a Girl Scout cookie, you probably won’t get more than 50,000 views. But shoot a hole in a steel-toed boot and you might get 200,000 the first month.”
Currently, he mixes things up, adding a trick shot roughly once a month, with “shoot-through” videos more frequently.
The Move To Full Time
After years of moonlighting, Nash recently made his YouTube blogging a full-time career, though he still teaches several online firearms courses as well.
“I worked for the same company for 18 years, servicing security alarms,” he says. “The last two years when YouTube started taking off I made some income from the videos, but not enough to support a family on. Then four months ago I took the plunge and quit my day job.”
Being able to focus on his shooting career has been a godsend, given the time required to set up shots, shoot and edit videos, and address the endless flood of emails and personal messages from fans, firearms makers and other interested parties.
Of course, Nash also spends plenty of time maintaining his shooting form.
“It’s not uncommon to shoot 1,000 rounds a day in good weather,” he explains. Federal Ammunition has long been his brand of choice, and most of his shooting is still done with 22 caliber ammo. “I’ve been accused of being the reason for the 22 shortage,” he jokes.
Looking ahead, Nash plans to forge ahead while savoring the moment and counting his blessings.
“By the grace of God these doors were opened to me,” he says. “I’m enjoying every day and not taking anything for granted. I still have to pinch myself because I have a great wife, two beautiful daughters and the best job in the world. I have everything I want and need right now.”
In fact, when asked the down side of being an online shooting star, Nash confides his main complaint centers on his dietary changes.
“When I was an alarm technician, I ate lunch at a different diner every day,” he says. “Now that I’m self-employed and working from home, I have to eat frozen pizza every day. But other than that, I can’t complain.”