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Tagged: Kevin Jimmerson

Competition Shooting Gear Brings out Best in Young Guns


PHOTO: Commander Zach Williams, Ares Armor Team, Coach Kevin Jimmerson (right).

It is said, “competition brings out the best in people.” This was just proven again with the new competition shooting gear from Ares Armor. The new  best in breed technology became reality because it brought out the best in a number of people. This includes a pair of standout young gun Cadets who were actively involved in product development.

The 2015 collegiate shooting season is now over for the Texas A & M Corps of Cadets Marksmanship Unit. A couple more prestigious championship trophies are now stationed on the College Station, Texas campus. In less than five years, the program has risen from being a worthy opponent to a target nationally. As Head Coach Kevin Jimmerson committed when he started the CCMU, “If we are going to do this, we will do it to win.”

It’s not lonely at the top for Coach Jimmerson. He arms everyone in the Texas A & M Corps of Cadets Marksmanship Unit for excellence. Sure, the young guns on his team come loaded with talent. But the real magic happens once they re-load with teachings and training.

The goal isn’t just to coach the Texas A & M Corps of Cadets Marksmanship Unit to be collegiate shooting champions. It’s to help prepare them to be effective military officers and leaders upon graduation.

“Coach is a real father figure to us,” says Zach Williams, 2014-15 Corps of Cadets Commander. “He’s hard on us and pushes us to be the best. He opens his home to us, and he’ll do anything to help us be successful.” This includes proving invaluable access to mentors.

Enter James Lam.

This Staff Sergeant, and JTAC Instructor in the Oklahoma National Guard admits he is an idealist. He makes it his duty to serve Cadets as a mentor. “My goal is to mold each of them into a leader I would have followed anywhere into combat,” says Lam.

He served in Afghanistan, as did Jon ZumMallen, Ares Armor, Vice-President of Manufacturing, and R & D. Their bond became the foundation for the Ares Armor – CCMU connection.

Beginning at the End

Coach Jimmerson started 2015 with a shopping list to reach the next level of equipment and techniques. It included a plate carrier to give his shooters the ability to operate off their chests in competition.

After Coach, SSgt. Lam, and past Commander now Senior Cadet, Tyler Toppenberg, came together with Ares Armor in January at the annual Shot Show in Las Vegas, they immediately went to work on developing innovative, customized shooting gear. Literally.


PHOTO: Ares Armor Team. Tyler Toppenberg (center). James Lam (right).

“We researched the Ares Armor gear, and designed our dream sheet at the Las Vegas airport,” says Toppenberg. Adds Lam, “They began with identifying what they wanted the gear to do in the end. One of Tyler’s ideas was running a mag pouch in the back of the plate carrier, and not on the belt. We actually started sketching on napkins to come up with initial concept design.”

Sgt. Lam applied key concepts from combat. For example, guys want to travel light. Regular chest rigs were always too loose, slow, and sloppy. There was a real need for speed and greater efficiency. He integrated best practices in combat with what they do in competition shooting gear. Coach and his Cadets made sure every piece of gear had their shooter’s mindset and perspective.

“Next we expanded into testing and experimenting,” says Toppenberg, who will graduate this summer. “Guys put on rigs. We videotaped testing and analyzed everything to see how we could get faster and more efficient. It went back and forth to get things to work the best they could.”


“Once there was a baseline design, they gave it to me,” says Zach Williams.  “I was kind of the refiner or guinea pig. I’d tell them ‘Yes, I like this, or I might like that slightly different.’ The opportunities have given me a lot of insight into my strengths and weaknesses, mostly my weaknesses. It is greatly helping me develop as a leader.”

“Zach and Tyler chose to put their pride on the shelf so they could be more effective leaders,” Sgt. Lam says proudly. They demonstrated as much as possible they are willing to look bad and fail in order to learn. You can’t teach that. It makes them special. And you will never discover that in future combat leaders unless you invest time and effort in them.”

Adds Coach Kevin Jimmerson, “I am very proud of both of them, and I hope I live long enough to see how outstanding their lives become.”

“We are only as good as our gear will let us be,” says Tyler Toppenberg humbly. “What this experience allowed us to do was be a part of revolutionizing competition shooting gear. Basically, we had our own mad scientist’s lab to dream up what we could do to be more successful, and Ares Armor created it.”

Now you have the opportunity to run this same competition shooting gear to gain speed and efficiency:

Competition Cut Kydex Holsters

Reversible Competition Rifle Mag Pouch – AR 15

Adjustable Speed Mag Kydex Pouch

Corps of Cadets: Preparing Future Military Leaders



Part 3 of 3-Part Series. Click here for Part 1 & Part 2.

What’s in your face faster than a speeding AR-15 bullet? The future. It’s constantly upon you, isn’t it? The present suddenly becomes the past. The future becomes now. Then next week, next month, and next year are here before you know it.

Bam! It happens that fast.

In supporting the Texas A & M Corps of Cadets Marksmanship Unit (CCMU), Ares Armor is helping these leaders be better prepared now and in the future. With pride, honor, and excitement, Ares Armor invested hundreds of man hours in research and development, added time and costs in materials and manufacturing. The company did whatever it took to reach new, higher, completely customized standards for the team of 23 Cadets.  CEO Bryce Stirlen explains, “We are creatively collaborating on identifying and fulfilling tactical gear needs today, tomorrow, and the equally important tomorrows thereafter which the Corps of Cadets will soon be facing.”

“After graduating, my Cadets will be military officers,” said Kevin Jimmerson, Head Coach of the Texas A & M Corps of Cadets Marksmanship Unit since it began in 2012. “Each and every one of them knows they can never take marksmanship for granted. I know if they can practice more, they always will.”


Coach (in upper right of above photo) preaches these quotes to his Cadets:

“It’s not the will to win that matters – everyone has that. It’s the will to PREPARE to win that matters.”  – Paul “Bear” Bryant, Head Football Coach, Texas A & M, 1954-57

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle

Kevin Jimmerson’s title of Head Coach is an understatement. Yes, he is an instructor driven to leading young men and women to national championships. They’ve proven it in shooting competitions against the best collegiate teams in the country.

But there’s so much more to his job. He’s also part mentor to his Cadets. He’s part drill sergeant, and part angel on their shoulders.

“These Cadets may soon be leading 19 and 20-year olds in combat,” he said. “They need to learn a whole lot about delegating, and all aspects of leadership.”

So now you get a better sense of the bigger picture. Ares Armor designing and manufacturing innovative tactical gear for these Texas A & M Aggies has multiple layers of importance.


Committing to Excellence is Great. Winning Championship Trophies is Great. But the ultimate prize we’re after is helping to better prepare and equip this Corps of Cadets to safely lead U.S. Military members home from combat.

The Texas A & M Corps of Cadets shooters configure their belts and mags to Coach Jimmerson’s specifications. That’s how they train. That’s how they compete. That’s how they think.

Ares Armor is actively supporting the coach’s mission for his unit to have customized tactical gear to better its speed and efficiency.

– Speed and efficiency wins shooting competitions.

– Speed and efficiency saves lives in battle.

This is why we’re working together, and shifting on the fly to develop innovative solutions to improve areas such as:

  • Shooting Fundamentals.
  • Angled Mag Holders, Ergonomic and Biomechanically Correct.
  • Shooting Fundamentals.
  • Shooting Weak Hand Techniques.
  • Shooting Fundamentals.
  • Re-arranging Double Pistol Mag Holders to not Interfere with Fingers.
  • Shooting Fundamentals (The coach believes in fundamentals).
  • And more.


Ares Armor CEO Bryce Stirlen says the company may soon be sharing some of these cutting edge technology innovations with the public. It’s being explored.

“Lots of new things come out of the competition shooting world,” said Coach Jimmerson. “A lot of stuff filters its way into improvements our soldiers wind up using in battle. That may be the case here. It would be great if one day what we’re doing could save lives.”



Corps of Cadets Marksmanship Unit Running Highest Gear


Here’s Part 2 of our 3 Part Series. Click here for Part 1.

No hype here about “going the extra mile.” Ares Armor teaming up with the Texas A & M Corps of Cadets Marksmanship Unit (CCMU), made “the extra mile” nothing more than the most exciting part of a shared journey.

The mission wasn’t about filling stock orders or being the receivers of them. It wasn’t about uppers. It wasn’t about lowers. The goal was rising to new challenges…pushing one of the nation’s top collegiate shooting programs to go even higher.

Our destination: Creating the Highest Level of Customized Competitive Shooting Gear. Period.  

Writing a company check with a donation was easiest. Doing what was best for the Texas A & M Corps of Cadets Marksmanship Unit required a much greater team effort.

“Most people don’t get what we’re trying to do with better equipment and techniques that can translate to the next level of success,” said Head Coach Kevin Jimmerson. “Ares Armor saw the value of our non-traditional approach. They were open to working with us on different angles and trying to use biomechanics to help our Cadets shoot better.”

The Aggies presented a “wish list” of tactical gear items completely customized for the men and women of their unit. Prototypes were developed, exchanged, and revised. Basically, the bar was set at creating unique, “state of the art,” items. The target was not just the collegiate ranks, but the entire tactical gear industry.

“All of the concepts they are running are brand new to the industry,” said Atreyu Jimenez, Ares Armor Director of Government & Commercial Channel. “No one else has it.”


Working round the clock to meet deadlines, well over 100 pieces of a complete custom pattern of Kydex were created to match and adapt to the Aggies’ gear. Ares Armor Director of Kydex, Mike Hattonmoran, said he relied on his U.S. Marines Corps initiative to getting everything accomplished with his team members, Blair Adams and Glenn Schaugaard. “It was exciting and challenging,” said Hattonmoran. “We had a few stressful moments thinking it wasn’t going to get done. But everything worked out great.”

There was no “I” in this shared innovation…only the power of “WE.”

Here are some examples of the custom vision and creativity which were done:

Coach Kevin Jimmerson, Texas A & M Corps of Cadets Marksmanship Unit:

  • “I was looking for an AR 15 magazine holder that would be angled slightly. About a 45% degree angle would be very ergonomic, biomechanically correct.”
  • “We also needed a plate carrier, giving our Cadets the ability to operate off the chest if you will. We needed this to win some events which are cross country. You have to run 5 to 7 miles with a handful of shooting positions across the course.”

Mike Hattonmoran, Ares Armor Director of Kydex:

  • There was a great idea for an AR-15 magazine pouch running on the back of their carriers. It has double-sided Velcro on it in between their hydration pack and the actual carrier. This gives the shooters a great new backup speed mag.
  • “The holsters they are going to be running were designed for speed, drawing really fast and re-holstering really fast. We cut the front part out of the holsters. Now, when the shooters draw the pistol it only has to clear an inch or two to be free from the holster.”

Bryce Stirlen, Ares Armor CEO:

  • “We just created a new 3 gun system which is complete cutting edge technology. The Texas A & M Corps of Cadets Marksmanship Unit will be running it this weekend at the Texas 3 Gun Championship in Marble Falls. From the entire Ares Armor Team…Best wishes Aggies!”

The CCMU is coming off last weekend’s impressive win at the Military College Combat Shooting Championships. “I cannot say enough good things about Ares Armor,” said Coach Jimmerman. “To some it may look like they did minor things. But everything they did contributes to greater speed and efficiency. I am really grateful and hope we keep an ongoing relationship, where the next level is us giving back to them.”

Next, in Part 3 of our series, we’ll show you how the greatest rewards of this relationship have to do with the next round of leaders in the U.S. Military.

Ares Armor Teams with Texas A & M Corps of Cadets


Our hearts are all in on this one. We’d like to be able to say, “It’s the most exciting thing in Aggieland since Johnny Football.” Instead, in Part 1 of a 3-part series, we’ll simply share the exciting news for what it is:

Ares Armor proudly announces its unique support and sponsorship of the Texas A & M Corps of Cadets Marksmanship Unit.

“These outstanding young men and women are destined to be among the  next round of leaders in the U.S. Military,” said Ares Armor CEO, Bryce Stirlen. “Meanwhile as students, they’re at the head of their class in excellence, and in character. Ares Armor is honored to share our design and manufacturing expertise in helping the Texas A & M Corps of Cadets (CCMU) to become faster, more efficient, and the premier collegiate shooting team in the country.”

“We have been extremely impressed with the focus and commitment of Ares Armor,” said Kevin Jimmerson, a Texas A &M alum, and Head Coach of the Corps of Cadets Marksmanship Unit since it was formed in 2012. “We appreciate their service background, and are extremely grateful for all they’re doing as a company to support us.”

Braggin’ About the Aggies

Really, the focus and commitment to excellence begins with Coach Jimmerson. He says he told BG(R) Joe E. Ramirez, Jr. Commandant of Cadets, he would accept the position to lead the Marksmanship Unit on one condition, “If we are going to do this, we will do it to win.”

They have.


In four years of competing against the top collegiate shooting teams in the country (including the service academies), the Texas A & M Corps of Cadets Marksmanship Unit has never finished lower than third in a national level match.  

Talk about an upper hand in arms.

The Aggies’ Corp of Cadets hot shots won the 2014 SPP National Championship. This year, there wasn’t a single senior on the CCMU. Still, in March 2015, they shot the third fastest time in collegiate history. Amazingly though, another National Championship eluded them. They lost to West Point by just two seconds. “We shot what I thought was an unbeatable score…until I saw theirs,” says Coach Jimmerson.” I immediately went over and congratulated them for being such an outstanding group of shooters.”

The coach freely admits the Texas A & M program has been blessed with success and an outpouring of support. The Commandant came through completely. The 23 Cadets on 2 shooting teams, Alpha Squadron and Bravo Squadron, have both an indoor shooting range on campus, and an outdoor facility.

“Our focus is on fundamentals. There is no such thing as advanced skills. There are only advanced applications of fundamentals.”                              – Coach Kevin Jimmerson

“My Cadets are highly motivated to practice to shoot. They invest heavily in their training,” said Coach Jimmerson. He humbly adds, “I’m probably a fairly decent instructor, but in the end it’s their hard work, and having it between the ears that is making the difference. Plus, we’ve gotten incredible support from the industry with equipment, thanks to companies like Ares Armor.”


Instant Ammo

The Ares Armor relationship with the Texas A & M Corps of Cadets Marksmanship Unit instantly had all the ammo it needed. Members of both teams visited at the 2015 SHOT Show, held in Las Vegas in January. Common U.S. Military connections, plus shared passions and beliefs offered powerful, built-in synergies.

Credit for matchmaking belongs to a mutual friend, V/R James Lam, SSgt, JTAC-I, USAF. This American hero who’s responded to many combat calls for air support, swoops in as a valuable mentor to the Texas A & M Corps of Cadets shooters.

“Ares Armor has been extremely responsive during the entire process of designing and re-designing the equipment that gave the CCMU a competitive edge,” said Staff Sergeant Lam.

In Part 2 of our series, we’ll take you inside the joint effort between Ares Armor and the Texas A & M Corps of Cadets Marksmanship Unit.

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