Whereas the Golden Bullseye Awards acknowledge the finest products available in the shooting sports, the Golden Bullseye Pioneer Award specifically honors outstanding personal achievement. The Pioneer Award spotlights the exemplary achievement and cumulative body of work of an individual, or members of a family, team or partnership, responsible for the development and introduction of shooting equipment that has made a profound, positive and enduring impact on the way Americans shoot and hunt.
Pioneer of the Year: Richard Fitzpatrick, Founder, Magpul Industries
While serving in the U.S. Marine Corps in 1991, Richard Fitzpatrick pondered reinventing a common work-around troops used to ease handling of M16 magazines. Rather than duct tape and para-cord loops that afforded soldiers under stress a better grip on their magazines, Fitzpatrick glued together rubber tubing, but the substitute never satisfied him. A few years later, he patented the idea of a dual friction band, and used his savings to pay for an injection mold based on a simple drawing.
The inventor named the loop the “Magpul” for “Magazine Pull.” Many of its first sales were discretionary unit purchases within the U.S. military, but others who tried it found Fitzpatrick’s solution was just what they needed. In short order, Magpul—adopted as the company name—attracted customers to what has been a seemingly inexhaustible stream of new products that likewise improve functionality and value including PMAG synthetic AR-15/M16/M4 magazines (2007) and MOE (Magpul Original Equipment) stocks, grips, fore-ends and rails. Today the company makes an array of firearm accessories.
Magpul refused to yield to a loss of freedom when the Colorado legislature in 2013 passed gun-control measures that included a restriction on the sale and ownership of high-capacity magazines, which would have banned the company’s signature product in its home state. Fitzpatrick recalled, “The magnitude of what was being proposed forced us into the political arena almost immediately. [I]n the end, we all agreed that holding true to our principles was the only thing that felt right, whatever the outcome or threat to the business.” But first, Magpul produced and sold as many standard-capacity magazines as it could. All proceeds went to recall campaigns targeting chief anti-gun politicians, two of whom were ultimately voted out of office.
Thereafter operations moved to Wyoming and Texas. But the company maintains a presence in Colorado, vowing, “Magpul will … support efforts to restore rights taken away from lawful gun owners in Colorado.”
Richard Fitzpatrick’s ingenuity and leadership created a pipeline of product innovation that fueled consumer excitement around tactical rifles and training, resulting in a sales phenomenon that benefited the entire firearm industry.
Editor's Note: NRA Publications will present the annual Golden Bullseye Awards at an exclusive breakfast during the 2018 NRA Annual Meetings & Exhibits in Dallas, Tx., May 4-6.