The Gun Digest Interview: Jonathan Owen

The Gun Digest Interview: Jonathan Owen

Gun Digest interview with Jonathan Owen of SHWAT.

A native Texan, Jonathan Owen and his brother Stephen launched Special Hog Weapons and Tactics, SHWAT, last year as a website-based media outlet. Calling itself, “The Center of Gravity for Tactical Hog Hunting,” publishes blogs, photos and videos on hog hunting, tactical firearms and gear. Since its inception in January 2011, SHWAT’s Internet presence has grown appreciably. An entrepreneur from Abilene, Owen, 43, runs a business that builds and administers websites many of them for companies in the shooting industry.

So what exactly is SHWAT? An organization, a club, a web publication?

I see it as a gathering place, a network. We’re not selling hog hunts or guide services. The goal is to provide a meeting place for hog hunters and manufacturers, for guides and bloggers and writers, all of it to help people have a quality tactical hog hunting experience.

So what’s a “tactical” versus just a plain old hog hunt?

It starts with the tactics you’re going to use. You can play sniper and take out a pig at three-quarters of a mile with a .50-caliber rifle. Or you can get real close and start magazine dumping on ’em. Any way you can use your tactical skills on pigs, we consider that tactical hog hunting.
Often, it’s about a black rifle, too, lots of ammo, stealth and stalking and some fast shooting. It could also employ night vision and thermal imaging equipment and even suppressors.

Why are AR-style rifles such a big part of tac hog hunting?

The popularity of the AR is enormous. As people have become more educated about firearms, they’ve been buying more and more tactical rifles. And they’ve discovered that it’s more fun to shoot more times, and a semi-auto AR is just the ticket. Another thing that makes the AR so special is your ability to customize it, almost any way you want, for any shooting situation. That makes it the perfect rifle for tactical hog hunting.

How did you get the idea for SHWAT?

I was hog hunting with a friend on his family’s land several years ago. He was using a bolt action, I had an AR, and we got into pigs and it was just a lot of fun, shooting fast and furious. My enthusiasm for it took off. I did more AR hog hunts, and I was talking a lot of smack to friends and family about being a “tactical hog hunter.” So for Christmas [2009], my brother Stephen gave me the first SHWAT tee shirt, with the SHWAT logo he created. I saw that logo and I thought to myself, This is too cool not to have value to other people.

How did it go from a tee-shirt to a web-based business?

We brainstormed a lot, and because I’m in the website business, Stephen and I started talking about an on-line magazine that would bring together the tactical world and the hunting world. Really, I see SHWAT as the natural outgrowth of this huge interest in AR rifles. Plus, we have 4 million to 5 million wild, feral hogs across the country. They’re a massive problem here in Texas and many other places. Farmers and landowners want them gone because of all the damage they do. In most states, hog hunting’s open all season, with no bag limits. AR’s, wild hogs, tactical hunting, it just all fits together.

What was your first firearm?

A Savage Model 72, single shot .22. I still have it—and use it!

Your favorite rifle today?

Tough question. Currently, it’s probably my Accurate Armory LE light carbine.

What’s been the hardest part or parts in trying to provide focus for this growing hog hunting community?

The hours are tough. I have two businesses and a family. Occasionally, SHWAT takes half a day during a week. No big deal. But most weeks, it’s anywhere from 30 to 50 hours—on top of everything else. We had zero financial resources to start. Whenever we got any extra money, we reinvested it back into SHWAT. So we’ve been pretty much working for free. But, all in all, it’s been a lot of fun…from here on in, it should only get better!

This interview appeared in the February 11, 2013 issue of Gun Digest the Magazine.

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