Exclusive Interview with David Stewart, CEO of ShotKam
In the world of shooting sports technology, one product has carved its place: ShotKam. Behind this remarkable innovation is the visionary mind of David Stewart, the CEO responsible for its inception. In this exclusive interview, we have the privilege of introducing you to the person behind the gun camera whose journey from humble beginnings to pioneering ShotKam has left an indelible mark on the industry.
From a Scottish Farm to ShotKam: David’s Early Years
On a barley farm in the heart of Scotland, David began his journey into the world of shooting as a young boy. His initiation, at the age of ten, was not merely a pastime; it was a responsibility. With a purpose to protect the farm's yield from vermin, David found himself faced with shooting rabbits and wood pigeons, particularly the ones that destroyed their precious barley crop—a key ingredient for Scottish whiskey. With no formal shotgun training or shooting practice, David’s father handed him a shotgun and gave one goal: Scare the pests away. “My father was not a shooter, and there was no one in my family that actually shot,” David recalled with a chuckle. “So I was completely self-taught.”
He took his father’s order to scare the birds away one step further, and slowly learned to hit moving targets. That independence helped ignite his passion for game shooting. He noted: “The memory of learning how to lead a target… that helped me lay the foundation for ShotKam.”
Education and Career Beginnings
Despite these humble beginnings on the farm, David excelled in physics and mathematics in school. This led him to pursue engineering— a choice that would shape his future significantly. “My best subject was always physics, and there's clearly a logical connection between physics and engineering. So that sort of lends itself to my career as an engineer.” He went on to attend the University of Glasgow and study electrical engineering, effectively breaking the cycle of generational farming in his family. “My dad’s family, for generations, had just been farmers who left school,” the ShotKam inventor revealed.
From Defense Industry to Computers
Starting with his years in the defense industry, David worked on groundbreaking projects, such as laser targeting systems that would later be showcased by General Schwarzkopf. Still living in Scotland, David then moved on to work as an engineer for a computer hard drive company before living in the sunny state of Florida. IBM launched their new campus in South Florida, and David’s company traveled to the sunshine state to build their facility nearby. They intended to sell the hard drives to IBM, “but the interesting twist was that we never did sell them to IBM.” David recounted, “We sold them to Apple.” He eventually started his own company in the hard drive and memory industry into the late nineties, when he merged with a company in France. He moved his wife and growing family to Normandy, where his company developed hard drive products for several years. After moving back to the U.S. in 2000, David and his family officially planted their roots as American citizens.
He then noticed the rising costs of oil prices and identified a huge threat to the U.S. economy. Being surrounded by orange groves in Florida, he also noticed the amount of residual waste from producing orange juice. “And so, I invented a process to turn orange peels into ethanol for fuel,” David said, a true inventor at heart. He spent several years in a successful career in energy, until the financial crisis hit in 2008.
The Birth of ShotKam: A Hobby Turned Innovation
Throughout this time, David continued fueling his love for duck hunting with frequent trips into the Florida everglades. With time on his hands after leaving the energy industry, he would fuse his hobby of shooting and his abilities in engineering to invent the ShotKam.
In fact, it was during a hunting preparation session with his youngest son, Alexander, that David observed a struggle among young shooters. The challenge of aiming ahead of a moving target perplexed them, David realized: “We were at the skeet range getting ready for season when I realized he and his friends were really struggling with this concept.”
This observation sparked an idea—an idea that would revolutionize shooting sports. In 2011, David, with help from his son, embarked on the journey of creating ShotKam, a device that would change the way shooters approached their targets. “It turned out it became very useful in sporting clays as well because there are an infinite number of clay presentations,” commented the ShotKam founder.
Passion for Sporting Clays: Rising Through the Ranks
David’s passion for the sport didn’t end with ShotKam’s creation; it only ignited further. He delved into sporting clays and found a love for the sport in 2014 and climbed the ranks from E Class to Master Class shooter. He humbly acknowledges his shooting abilities, and found immense joy in the company of elite shooters, appreciating the camaraderie and the spirit of healthy competition.
Challenges and Triumphs: Pioneering the ShotKam Revolution
Creating ShotKam wasn't without challenges. As the sole engineer behind the project, David faced numerous hurdles. However, the support and patience of the shooting community, combined with David's perseverance, led to the evolution and growth of ShotKam.
The Vision for the Future: Helping Shooters and Fostering Morality
For David, ShotKam is more than a product; it’s a tool that fosters honesty and integrity. He envisions a future where this sport becomes a family affair, teaching youngsters not just about shooting but also about morality. In a world where personal integrity matters, shooting sports stand as a testament to individual honesty, akin to the values upheld in golf. He values each ShotKam customer and the community built around ShotKam. “Our whole sport is based on a high moral standard,” David said. “It’s an honor to have such an honest customer base.”
David's daughter, Emily, now the COO of ShotKam, played a pivotal role in nurturing the company into a global brand. “To see Emily build such a good team of people that work well together is really encouraging,” David voiced proudly. His dream is to preserve the essence of ShotKam as a small family business while still creating a high-end product— a product dedicated to promoting shooting sports, teaching honesty, and creating memorable experiences for families.
Conclusion: A Legacy of Innovation and Morality
David Stewart’s journey—from a farm in Scotland to the forefront of the shooting sports industry—stands as a testament to human ingenuity and passion. His vision for a future where families bond over shooting, learning essential life values, is a testament to the profound impact one person can have on an entire community.