At an age when many young guns are still figuring out their direction, Federal Premium’s Casey Reed has his sights firmly on target.

By day, the 23-year-old product development engineer helps design and refine Federal’s latest shotshells, rimfire rounds and training ammunition. Off the clock, he spends countless hours honing his shooting skills to compete against the country’s top practical shooters.

Driven by a passion for perfection, he’s achieved hard-won success on both fronts in a remarkably short time.

Reed, of Big Lake, Minn., grew up hunting whitetails and upland birds, and quickly became proficient with both a rifle and shotgun. Blessed with an analytical mind, he gravitated toward technical pursuits academically, and studied mechanical engineering at St. Cloud State University.

His quest for a degree had barely begun, however, when his career took a fortuitous turn.

“I landed an internship with Federal Premium after my freshman year, and spend the next three years assisting engineers at the Anoka facility,” he recalls.

Impressed with his aptitude and dedication, the company brought him on full-time after graduation.

“My main job now is developing training ammunition for law enforcement and military personnel,” he says.

The focus is a perfect fit for a newly acquired pastime that has quickly propelled Reed to the top of the nation’s competitive practical shooting ranks.

Under the guidance of the United States Practical Shooting Association (USPSA), the genre pits solo competitors using production handguns against one another in fast-paced, reality-based courses that reward shooters for a combination of speed and accuracy.

“Fellow Federal engineer Matt Wolff invited me to a local club match in 2012 and I became addicted to the sport,” he recalls.

Reed soon bought his first pistol, a 9mm Glock 34, and took the plunge into the world of practical shooting. Over the next three years, he accumulated an impressive string of accomplishments in the USPSA’s Production Division, including 2014 Minnesota State Champion, 2014 and 2015 USPSA Area 3 Champion and 10th place overall at the 2015 USPSA nationals. He also scored numerous top fives at a variety of other major matches.

While Reed savors the thrill of competition, he’s also drawn to the individual aspect of the sport.

“This isn’t like basketball or other team sports because you control your own destiny, and any win or loss is all on you,” he explains. “The focus is on improving your own skills and performance, which is very satisfying.”

He also welcomes the pressure that comes with solo competition.

“I really like the pressure of having all eyes on you, with people expecting you to perform—especially at major matches,” he grins.

Reed credits much of his success to an exhaustive training schedule that includes 15 to 20 hours per week of fine-tuning the skills he needs to continue improving his game.

His weekly regimen includes firing 500 live rounds at local ranges and “thousands upon thousands” of dry-fires at home, but he also scrutinizes every aspect of successful competition.

“As an engineer, I’m very detail oriented,” he says, explaining that this perspective extends to shooting. “I analyze my shooting and how to train more efficiently.”

Toward that end, he studies slow-motion videos of himself and compares the footage with that of other top shooters, identifying his strengths and finding ways to work on weaknesses.

“That way, I’m not just training seven days a week, I’m training smart,” he says.

Looking forward, his goals include competing on the world stage.

“My ultimate dream right now is representing the U.S. at the International Practical Shooting Confederation’s World Shoot in 2017,” he says, explaining that the competition represents the Olympics of practical shooting.

It’s a lofty goal that requires qualifying against America’s top shooters in the hotly contested USPSA nationals. Given Reed’s passion for shooting and tireless pursuit of excellence, however, there’s little doubt that this rising star will give it his best shot.