Jade Struck is a badass girl with a gun (and a purple belt in karate). But she’s also smart, sensitive, and full of faith.
Jade Struck is, well, striking. Her jet-black hair and piercing eyes make her stand out from the standard California crowd, but make no mistake about it, she’s a California girl through and through.
Since she was 18, she’s been a firearms instructor with Taran Tactical Innovations, training civilians and celebrities on shooting like a pro. She’s also a professional competitive shooter with an eye toward the big screen.
INTERVIEW: Jade Struck of Taran Tactical
Note: This interview was first published in July 2019.
Hook & Barrel: Your name is so cool. What’s the story behind it?
My dad was in charge of naming me, and he just liked the name Jade. Jade Victoria Struck is my full name. People think it’s a stage name, but Struck is my real name. When I was a kid, I wasn’t sure about my name. But as I got older, I realized I have a bitchin’ name.
When and how did you get in to shooting? And when did it go from being a hobby to a profession?
I started shooting when I was 8 with my dad, who’s a retired police officer. I grew up on a ranch in Simi [California] doing crazy country stuff. My dad was a single dad who raised me and my sisters up like little boys. I grew up hunting too. I took shooting seriously my whole life — I really enjoyed the structure of it.
When I was 16, my dad took me to a shooting match to watch a friend of his [Taran Butler], and I was blown away. I was playing video games at the time, and it was like real-life Halo. I thought, ‘What the hell is that?!’ Then when I was 18 years old, I went to work for Taran. He called my dad and asked if I needed a job.
Speaking of Taran Tactical, what’s your role there?
I’m a firearms instructor. I teach five days a week for private clients. I’m also Taran’s right-hand man — I’m the scheduler and planner. I dabble in all areas of the company from customer service to teaching to filming content for social media. I have a real passion for teaching. Shooting helped me to find who I am, and I love to share that.
Taran Tactical trains actors for movies (like the John Wick series). Do you have any favorite celeb stories?
I worked with Halle Berry [for her role as Sofia in John Wick 3: Parabellum]. My ultimate goal is to be an actress, and I studied her role in Monster’s Ball in my acting class. She is so sweet and kind and just authentically herself. I trained her for eight weeks.
The director came to me and told me, ‘I want her to be better than you.’ I knew that it would take one hell of a student, but Halle just exuded the drive to be the best. To see her growth over the course of our work was fun to watch. Working with Halle was everything.
You’re a competitive shooter, but there’s more to it than just firing guns. Tell me about your fitness routine.
When I started shooting, I was 110 pounds and 5’6”, straight up starving myself because I had image issues. When I first started working for Taran, I could barely pick up a gun. I realized if I was going to do this, I had to change everything. I got a gym membership and started off light. Now I do high-intensity interval training. I want to be at peak performance all the time, and I train every day, sometimes twice a day. I have the mentality of pushing myself harder all the time.
How often do you compete in shooting competitions?
First, I love competitive shooting. I love the game! I go to four or five majors a year. Once, I competed in a match after being on a 10-day hunting trip and won my division and the overall match. I’m still hard on myself, but sometimes I have to rest up and have trust.
What’s your favorite firearm and why?
A: I like my TR-1 Ultimate rifle that Taran built. It has all the bells and whistles, but it’s super lightweight. I love shooting a rifle, and it’s a beautiful piece of equipment. I also like my TTI 2011 Combat Master pistol. It’s smaller so you can move with it. I’ve never shot a smoother gun. It’s like the gun picked me.
You are also into martial arts — what do you practice, and what’s your best move?
I dabbled in stunt work, and stunts are a mosh pit of karate, kick boxing, jujitsu, and boxing. Mainly, I study karate and Muay Thai. I love the formalness and tradition of karate. In karate, I like that you have to value yourself and what makes you unique. I have a purple belt. My dad was a boxer and is a third degree black belt, so it’s in the blood. My signature move is a Mawashi geri [a high spinning kick]. I love to do it.
You’re a badass girl with a gun. Is that intimidating to guys?
It definitely depends on the guy. But if a guy is intimidated, we’re not dating. I need someone who has a lot of confidence and who’s proud of what I’m doing. I’m about my work, and I never let my relationships affect my work.
What do you do when you’re not working?
I don’t think I really slow down. I love animals. If I do have downtime, I’m outside. Really, I like to be out in nature, listening to music. I enjoy hiking, and I wear a weighted vest and hike about seven miles on hills. I like to ride my horses, and I write songs all the time. Music is so profound; I’ve always loved it. Part of me is an artist, and I just love to be creative. I wake up every morning and read the Bible. The one thing I’m doing for myself lately is Bible study and going to church on Sunday. I try to spend time with people who I admire and love.
If you could pick any action hero to take over the role, what would it be and why?
I’ve got this character inside of me I call Victoria Viper. She’s an antihero. She’s fighting for something. She wants to help people by getting rid of all the jerks. She’s kind of a mixture of Batman and The Punisher all rolled together.
How can you encourage women to try shooting?
Get a Glock, something you can work with, get some basic instruction, and then go for it. Get out and do it! Invest the time to learn.
How do you use social media in your life?
I enjoy social media. I like to have the creative control to put out the content that I like. The bad side of social media is not having the time to do it like I want to. It’s a balancing act. I would rather post sometimes and the posts be great than post every day and they be worthless, and I enjoy the ability to have a voice. I will always do my own social media because I don’t want anyone else to speak for me.