By Jim Schatz
2017 Chinn Award goes to E. Daniel Shea
On December 7th, 2016, just outside of Washington DC, members of the National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA) Armaments Division Small Arms Steering Committee voted unanimously to convey the prestigious honor of the 2017 LtCol George M. Chinn Award to SADJ’s very own Dan Shea for nearly four decades of professional accomplishments in the field of small arms. Most SADJ and SAR readers know Dan as the Technical Editor and Editor-in-Chief of those well respected periodicals. However, few know the full extent and variety of the contributions Dan Shea has made to the military and law enforcement community and the end user; advancing the state of small arms technology, initiating foreign ordnance technology discovery, providing unmatched threat weapons training to uniformed service members, technical analysts, combat developers and trainers and for many readers, the cataloging and preservation of valuable small arms historical and technical materials and collections from countless notable small arms experts and organizations.
The annual NDIA Chinn Award is named after US Marine Corps LtCol George M. Chinn and is awarded to those who have made significant contributions to the academic study and research or publishing related to military or infantry small arms. Since the award was first created in 1988, NDIA Chinn Award recipients include small arms industry stalwarts like Dr. Edward C. Ezell, L. James Sullivan, Ronnie Barrett, George E. Kontis, C. Reed Knight, Jr., Phil “Doc” Dater and Richard “Dick” Swan, to name a few.
Dan fits in very well indeed as one of 28 recipients for all that he has accomplished since he started his first machine gun business in the mid-1970s after ETS from the US Army. Dan is also unique in the history of the Chinn Award in that he personally knew most of the previous award recipients, as well as Colonel Chinn. Dan has in fact conducted and published interviews on many of these personalities for SAR/SADJ, or in the case of Dr. Ezell helped rescue his entire reference collection with the UK Defense Academy in Shrivenham England, digitized it and made it available to all on www.smallarmsreview.com.
As a Chinn nominee, Dan Shea is unique. Known not only for his unmatched depth of knowledge of small arms and related ordnance, Dan is also one of the most connected subject matter experts in the small arms community. Dan travels to 20 or more foreign countries each year attending trade shows and visiting factories, hotspots and armories in search of new technologies, rare collectibles and relics, forgotten reference works and training aids and materials. Dan is well connected to senior government officials and industry leaders worldwide and through those relationships has access few others enjoy. As a result, Dan Shea can provide invaluable assistance to his customers be they military or civilian. Well known for his “RKI” (Reasonably Knowledgeable Individual) definition that applies to most “experts” in the small arms world, Dan is a true subject matter expert with few peers in any regard. While some “know guns” Dan knows far more and is able and always willing to convey that hard-earned expertise to those engaged in the fight against the adversaries of freedom. Dan and his companies have and still provide invaluable threat weapons training to our uniformed service members who face those weapons down range and has been since 1984 when he conducted the first foreign weapons class to the 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne) at Fort Devens
Massachusetts. Knowing the real capabilities versus the reported myths and understanding methods to identify and/or counter those threats saves lives on the battlefield. Dan and his wife and long-time successful business partner Debbie, have shipped free of charge some 160,000 copies of SAR and SADJ to troops stationed overseas to help them pass the time on long deployments.
Like the namesake for the award, Dan Shea is one who enjoys sharing his expertise and the vast array of knowledge he has collected over the decades. Where some might hoard and protect what they know, Dan shares it unselfishly and in many ways. He has penned more than 1100 articles since the 1980s and has served as Technical Editor for various magazines, technical books and briefings and the invaluable “NFA Handbook.” He created the “Machine Gun Dealers Bible” and today is working on the 5th edition. He is well known as one of the top authorities on NFA, State Department and Customs import/export and ITAR rules and regulations and provides that advice and expertise to those in need. Dan has consulted with countless government agencies, foreign governments and many industry companies on everything from small caliber ammunition to tracked radar-guided anti-aircraft systems. The elite agencies that provided endorsement letters in support of Dan’s Chinn Award nomination referenced Dan’s important technical and logistical support as being key in their mission success.
The author has witnessed the level of Dan’s expertise and willingness to share it freely in the US and abroad on many occasions, each one memorable. At the UK Defense Academy in 2010, I marveled when Dan schooled numerous retired British Army veterans on the use of a Lee-Enfield rifle as the third leg of a BREN gun anti-aircraft mount. They had never seen that before. He then went on to inform the curator there that his prized 12.7mm Russian Yak-B’s were incomplete without the blank firing cassettes employed to clear misfires. There are cassettes, and they didn’t have them. While collecting information for an article on the ATF Reference Collection for SAR, Dan named each and every loose magazine in an endless box of pistol, sub gun and rifle magazines that had been separated from the firearms to which they belonged. Dan named every one, to include the one-of-a-kind prototypes and rare examples, much to the amazement of those in attendance. Accounts such as these are endless and a credit to Dan’s passion for the topic and willingness to share his experience and endless “brain box catalog” with most anyone.
For those lucky enough to have visited Dan’s collection of weapons and rarities, the very fact that he opens his doors to most anyone illustrates his willingness to educate others on the fruits of his passion. Dan has been and remains today an inventor, author, researcher and historian, demonstrator, collector, privateer and arms dealer, international traveler and teacher. He is revered today in the community and will be remembered for a very long time, like those who have come before him on the Chinn Award trophy. E. Daniel Shea will be honored for his lifelong contributions to the field of small arms at the 2017 NDIA Armament’s Forum in Fredericksburg Virginia during the first week in May. Join the industry in this celebration by registering at http://www.ndia.org/events/2017/5/1/2017-armament-systems-forum.
2017 Hathcock Award goes to Todd Hodnett
I met Todd Hodnett in 2007 after hearing that I needed to meet “this Guy” that was revolutionizing the Sniper community with new training and techniques. Todd was teaching Long Range Sniper Training at locations in Texas and Utah and impressed the sniper community. As a Former Marine Corps Scout Sniper and completing both the Scout Sniper Basic and Advanced Courses, I felt confident that what Todd was teaching would augment what I already knew about this craft and would ultimately be another opportunity to hone critical skills. What I quickly learned though was that Todd Hodnett had thrown out a lot of what I was instructed in and had developed new techniques and equipment to enable the snipers of today with capabilities that my generation could only dream about.
Raised in the Heart of Texas, Todd spent a lifetime preparing for his current role. He first started shooting scoped rifles when he was 6 years old. The need to hunt effectively within West Texas requires keen ability and some luck. Todd’s skills with firearms were not limited rifles, he worked aggressively to compete and become the National Champion in Cowboy Action Shooting. While competing, Todd was asked to train some military personnel on Advanced Pistol skills which lead to training in precision long-range shooting. Collaborations with Industry lead to advancement of many aspects of a sniper’s capability. Case in point was one of Todd’s promotions of a gridded “holding” reticle. While this type of reticle was reserved for match shooters, Todd was able to modernize these reticles, and today they are the standard. Before long, Todd was training instructors from the Marine Corps Scout Sniper School and US Army Sniper School. In addition, he was quite an influence teaching instructors from all elements of Special Operations Command and Joint Special Operations Command. This quickly led to Federal Law Enforcement with FBI Hostage Rescue Team, Secret Service Counter Sniper and entities within the Intelligence Community signing up for this coveted opportunity. Today, Todd teaches every sniper instructor group in the US Military. His teachings have established new doctrine within many of these organizations and sniper schools. Todd has developed formulas, such as his Wind Formula, that provide quick reference and enable fast sniper engagement.
While working for an Electro Optics Company that produced high-end laser range finders, I worked with Todd to better utilize range finders and incorporate them within his training school. Todd crafted requirements for a smaller, lighter, less expensive range finder that ultimately became the Vectronix PLRF-05, (Terrapin). I tried to get it called the TH-05 (Todd Hodnett), but that did not fit into the marketing mystery bag of tricks. This is just one of a long line of technologies that Todd has designed or developed for the precision shooter. Todd has designed a scope level to maintain rifle position, a slew of reticles to aid in rapid engagement to include the Tremor 3 which is currently in every USSOCOM ECOS-O scope. Todd has produced training videos for those shooters not able to attend his classes, and he has developed tools such as the Wiz Wheel that will allow a sniper in the field to rapidly determine a shooting solution without the use of a computer.
What impresses me is that regardless of which military or federal law enforcement sniper you talk to, they typically have attended one, if not several, Todd Hodnett Classes and use his techniques when shooting a precision rifle. This, as some say, is the highest form of flattery, but it is also a demonstration to me that his techniques are relevant and enhance the shooter with critical technique that allows him to be successful. I cannot find a Military Sniper who does not know who Todd Hodnett is, just like that of Carlos Hathcock. In addition to his teaching, Todd continues to invest time and energy with military personnel that have suffered traumatic injury on the battlefield. Todd regularly takes these wounded warriors on unique, one-on-one, big game hunts and assumes all of the expense.
Todd could not accomplish this alone; he has a beautiful family led by his wife Shannon, two adult sons, Colby and Will, and longtime friends Mark Larue and Eddie Abraham. Todd has classes booked out for years typically and to be able to get out to West Texas and experience this is a blessing.
I consider myself fortunate to know Todd and consider him a close friend. I rest well at night knowing there are men out in harm’s way who are armed with skills honed by Todd Hodnett. There is no one in my opinion more deserving of this most prestigious award.
|This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V21N4 (May 2017)|