Danyella D'Angelo is using social media to take competitive shooting by storm.
(Photo by Alex Landeen)

Social Media InfluencerAn individual who utilizes a variety of social media outlets using their influence, opinion and or preferences to sway consumer demand for their employer’s products or services. Danyela D’Angelo fits that description.

Danyela D’Angelo: Shooting Star

In the golden age of gun magazines, writers were the original social influencers. Someone with Skeeter Skelton’s or Elmer Keith’s clout could doom a new gun’s future with a simple, critical paragraph. But these are different times, Jordan, Askins, Cooper as well as Skelton and Keith are all gone now. While we have some very talented writers in the gun trade, today there are few that have followings like the aforementioned gents. It’s not for lack of gun enthusiasts — there are far more dedicated shooters now than there were before but we’re in the internet age and we have a whole new generation of shooters who have never even looked at a gun magazine. No, today’s shooter gets their information online.

Gone are the descriptive narratives of their scenery and ramblings of associated experiences that made the shooter feel like they were part of the outing while the writer built anticipation that culminated with a descriptive summary, that built a case for buying or rejecting a new gun. Gun companies lived and died on the tip of the gunwriter’s pen.

A New Frontier

But today’s shooters could care less about brilliant writing instead preferring instant gratification and short word count to match their attention spans. Now, don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with today’s shooters they just prefer to get their information in an abbreviated form-short and straight to the point. If there’s an entertaining video to go along with it-even better!

One video, in particular, caught the attention of the decision makers at Kahr Firearms Group. The video shows a then 14-year old Danyela D’Angelo fearlessly firing a .50 AE Desert Eagle as quickly as she could fight the gun down from recoil and align her sights again. Her petite 85-pound frame rocking with each shot but handling the Desert Eagle like a boss. It’s easy to see that Ms. D’Angelo was far from intimidated by the big gun! Little did she know that this brief video would lead to bigger things and more videos. In a world measured by clicks, likes, views and visits this young shooting phenom has become has garnered a huge following!

At the 2020 SHOT Show, in Las Vegas, I had the chance to sit down with Danyela D’Angelo and her father and discuss what life is like for the 17-year old social influencer.

DanyelaWe posted a picture of me holding a Desert Eagle and said something like, ‘Guys follow me to see me shoot this Desert Eagle.’ All the comments were like, ‘you’re gonna break your wrists, you’re gonna kill yourself, you’re gonna hit your face. Then we did it and I just wanted to prove to everyone that I could handle the gun!

It’s obvious talking to Danyela’s father that he possesses a great deal of marketing and social media skills and recognized Danyela’s potential.

DannyIt was my idea and it was selfish of me but I wanted my daughter to be famous. I am a consultant in the laundromat business, of all things. I used to own a string of laundromats and everyone would ask about that. They weren’t interested in my previous private investigator days, in fact, I was writing a book about that but no one really seemed to care. My ghost writer asked why I was doing this and I said, to make money. He said, “Books are business cards and they don’t make money unless you’re going to be our next president.”

He mentioned that I might want to write a book about the laundromat business. I was always making films so I created a DVD about the laundromat business. He laughs, I work very hard at not working hard and that’s opened up time for me to work with Danyela. Of course, I have to spend time with my two other daughters so they don’t feel like they’re being ignored. The other two girls are heavily involved in dance but that’s just not Danyela’s thing.

Six or seven years ago I started shooting USPSA matches at the Cactus League with a Glock. I’ve shot at Cactus almost every week since then and started taking Danyela with me about a year after I started.

From cowboy gun to race guns, nothing is off the table for the junior shooter.
(Photo by Alex Landeen)

Do you remember the first time dad took you out shooting?

DanyelaUm, kind of yeah. I started with a Ruger .22 LR pistol. But to shoot a Cactus League match you have to shoot at least a 9mm. So, I was really scared, I thought there’d be a lot of recoil and it would really hurt. I was only 12 and I didn’t think I was strong enough. But I started practicing with a 9mm and got pretty good at that, so I moved to a Caspian .38 Super.

DannyShe wanted to be an Open class shooter and I thought it would be good because of the red dot.

DanyelaI started shooting 3-Gun too because my dad competed. I got sponsored by my first rifle company, KE Arms. I’m sponsored by POF-USA now. So, I made myself an Instagram account and started posting little pictures of me with guns and I barely had any followers. Dad made me a Facebook page and the first day KE Arms asked to sponsor me and I was only 13. Two or three years ago POF-USA became my rifle sponsor and I shoot the Renegade Plus in 3-gun competitions.

What division do you prefer to shoot in USPSA?

DanyelaI prefer to shoot in Open division and am currently a B class shooter. Eddie Garcia is my handgun sponsor for USPSA Open class. He uses STI frames and only builds 50 guns a year.

So, tell me about your gun and how its spec’d out

DanyelaWe’re also sponsored by Vortex and I really love their dots. I use a Razor. I also use a Beretta shotgun with a Vortex Razor and shoot in the Open class of 3-gun competitions.

DannyWe shoot a lot of PCC (Pistol Caliber Carbine) and JP Enterprises sponsors us for that. They make the best 9mm there is! They built her a crazy purple, lightweight gun!

DanyelaI really love it because it’s really light and I have really long magazines. I love shooting rifles and this one is really easy to shoot.

How many matches a year do you shoot?

DanyelaWe shoot USPSA Nationals and 3-Gun Nationals and at least two local matches a week plus two practice sessions. Dad calculates I shoot 3000 rounds a month between matches and practice. We use a Dillon 1050 to reload our rounds.

DannyI do the loading and she chamber checks.

DanyelaAnd I clean the brass. Our rounds look brand new!

The 17-year-old competitive shooter wants to compete in a World Shoot someday.
(Photo by Alex Landeen)

So, what’s next for you?

DanyelaI’d like to go to a World Shoot and I want to get really good at the Steel Challenge. We have a local Steel Challenge match once a month at Ben Avery in Phoenix. I practice at Ben Avery, Rio Salado and Cowtown.

When you turn on the TV all you hear about guns is the bad stuff. What do your friends think about what you do?

DanyelaMost of my friends really like it. One of my friends went shooting with me and my dad. We taught her all of the safety rules. Now my other friends want us to take them too. They all follow my social media and I don’t really have any friends who hate guns.

When you go over to these other girl’s homes their parents don’t ask you any funny questions or show any bias because you’re a shooter?

DanyelaNo, most of my friends’ parents are very supportive and follow me too. Some of them even have their own gun safes in the house.

How about at school? Any negative comments?

DanyelaMost of my teachers that know what I do have said they think it’s really cool. Some of the older boys teased me at first. But they all stopped once they realized I was getting paid for this and making a career out of it.

One time I was just hanging out with my friends in my normal clothes at a burger place and this guy walked up to me and shook my hand and was like, ‘Hi, I follow your shooting accounts. It’s nice to meet you!’ My friends were shocked!

This morning a guy inside of our hotel stopped to shake my hand. We assumed he was here for the SHOT Show but it turned out he was a contractor doing a job at the Bellagio. He recognized me from my Instagram account.

What’s your favorite shooting memory?

DanyelaAt the MGM Ironman we got to shoot from a zipline with our pistol and I wasn’t that good but it was so much fun! They strapped me in and I was so scared and you have to actually engage targets while you’re zipping! It was really hard and I was going so fast that I didn’t get all of my hits but no one else did either. I’d like to do it again.

I was also interviewed by National Geographic. They took a neat pic of me with my guns around me. They interviewed a lot of other people involved with firearms and were respectful in the way they treated me. We took them shooting after they were done, and they really loved that!

DannyThey were Italian and a world-renowned photographer and his assistant came. I didn’t know this, but every National Geographic has unretouched photos. It took them three hours just to set up for the photo.

Kahr recently made 4 movie trailers starring Danyela D’Angelo and their guns. Tell us about that experience.

DannyI love movie trailers and I like that compacted action that gives viewers the flavor of the movie and tease about what’s to come. In these trailers Danyela is the co-star to the firearms. They are the true stars so each of the four trailers highlights guns available from the Kahr Firearms Group. For instance, for the Auto Ordnance Thompson, we made a prohibition- era gangster trailer. The Desert Eagle has a futuristic spin, the Kahr pistol will be present day and then the old West for Magnum Research’s BFR single action revolver. There’s more of a backstory than most people realize. I play a cyborg who travels through time with Danyela following me.

There was supposed to be one trailer per quarter in 2020 but when Justin Moon, Kahr Firearms Group owner, saw the first one, the western, I guess he’s not really an emotional guy but he freaked out and said let’s get them all done before the next SHOT.

DanyelaPeople are like Oh My God, those are so good when is the actual movie coming out and I’m like there’s not a movie. They’re just trailers. Offensive Marketing Group put the videos together for us. They have really nice and expensive cameras and a really good film crew. Very professional!

Videos and other content have helped make the junior shooter an internet sensation.
(Photo by Alex Landeen)

How long did it take you to film the videos?

DanyelaWe did the cowboy one in one afternoon and then like a couple months later we did the last three in three days. We stayed up until 4 AM doing the futuristic one because it had to be done at night.

DannyAnd then we were back at 11 AM the next day for the Jane Wick piece.

DanyelaI had to drink 2 Redbulls. I was so dead I don’t even remember half of it. Here at the SHOT Show Kahr has been playing the trailers in their booth and had movie posters for me to sign.

DannyIt was a very ambitious project but it really is the ultimate product placement platform!

So, what’s next for Danyela D’Angelo, the ambitious competitive shooter and professional social influencer?

DanyelaI’ve always wanted to be a lawyer and I’ve thought about working for the NRA as a gun rights advocate.

This article is from the Fall 2020 issue of Guns of the Old West magazine. Grab your copy at OutdoorGroupStore.com.

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