Michelle Viscusi contains multitudes. Between service, shooting, being a mom, tv, and more, she also nabbed a spot as a character in the popular game “Call of Duty.”
If you’re a shooting enthusiast, you might recognize pro shot Michelle Viscusi from her Season Four appearance on the History Channel’s competition shooting show Top Shot or from her numerous episodes of GunnyTime on Outdoor Channel.
But even the most hardcore gamers likely wouldn’t be able to identify Viscusi as her blond, mohawked Call of Duty character Wraith. But while the looks are drastically different, the badass quotient is the dead same.
Meet Michelle Viscusi
Viscusi didn’t set out to be a professional shooter or a video game star. Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, she was 10 when her dad, fed up with the cold Pennsylvania winters, packed the family up to move to the warmer climes of Arizona. “My dad hated the winters and was ready for a change. We took a Uhaul with all four of us (mom, dad, brother, and me) and drove it down to Arizona. It took us three days to get there.”
Gilbert, Arizona, became home. But as a kid, Viscusi was more interested in gyms than gun ranges. “I always found myself being drawn to the sport of gymnastics,” Viscusi says. “And I competed from an early age.”
Viscusi’s dad’s first attempt at getting her interested in shooting failed when a trip to the local gun range when Viscusi was 15 ended with her being bored. “I didn’t take to it then,” she recalls. “I was into other things.”
Enter National Service
Fast forward to 2010 when Viscusi was 20, and she decided to join the Army National Guard with an eye towards a career in law enforcement. “I wanted to join the National Guard to see if the military lifestyle was for me,” Viscusi says. “I wanted to better myself, and I wanted to be a cop.” She signed on for three years and was assigned to the 856 MP Company, Detachment 1 in Prescott, Arizona. As part of her Guard duties, Viscusi spent a year and half patrolling the Arizona/Mexico border alongside Border Patrol. “It wasn’t until basic training that I got into shooting,” she says.
During her National Guard stint, Viscusi was recruited to the TV show Top Shot, and it was during her time on the competition show that she began to envision a future as a professional competition shooter. “I started to pursue a professional career as a shooter after my season on Top Shot,” Viscusi says. “I met people who exposed me to new things, and I knew I had more to give and wanted to compete again in the shooting sports. That experience opened my eyes to competition shooting.” In November 2012, Viscusi signed on with Glock, the start of a 10-year relationship that accelerated her career and solidified her as a legit pro.
After Top Shot, Maxim Magazine came calling. “I was thrilled,” she says. Viscusi flew to New York for the photo shoot and loved every minute. “I had an amazing experience and a really fun photo shoot,” she says. Viscusi continued modeling and has repped a variety of companies over the years.
As often happens, in 2013, life threw Viscusi a curveball. Still planning for a career in law enforcement, Viscusi met her now-husband Mike (already father to a young daughter), who was sworn in as a police officer when they first met. “We got pregnant right away, and we quickly decided we couldn’t both be cops and have kids,” Viscusi says. The couple is now parents to three girls, ages nine, eight, and four.
Focusing on her professional shooting career, in 2019, in her first match back after having her second daughter, Viscusi captured the International Practical Shooting Confederation (IPSC) Limited Ladies National Championship. She repeated the feat in 2022, making her a two-time national champ.
Michele Viscusi on the Gaming Screen
In 2020, Viscusi was introduced to the multiplayer military video game franchise Call of Duty. “Call of Duty is always looking for new characters, and I happened to know one of the past characters who introduced me to a company called TacGas, who works with Activision, the game’s creator. “The owner of TacGas reached out and asked if I would be interested in shooting for Call of Duty,” Viscusi remembers.
She was excited, but the brass at Activision wasn’t convinced that Viscusi had the look and the skills to be a COD character. “They didn’t think I was mean (looking) enough and wouldn’t green light me,” she says. So her new friends at TacGas did a tactical shoot in Arizona to show the “badass” side of Viscusi. “Needless to say, I passed the test,” she says.
The Activision creative team had already developed Viscusi’s character Wraith—a Norwegian woman with blonde hair and a mohawk. “The character was pretty much the opposite of what I am,” she says with a laugh. Asked if she would bleach her hair and shave her head, Vicusi was a “hard no.” Instead, with the magic of makeup and a four- to six-hour transformation process, Viscusi became Wraith for the Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War Season Three.
She also went to LA to film a celeb-heavy commercial for the game with stars like Saweetie, Young Thug, and Jack Harlow among others. “It was definitely one of the coolest experiences I’ve gotten to be a part of,” she says. Now she’s forever immortalized as Wraith whether you can tell it’s her or not.
Michelle Viscusi, In The Present
These days, Viscusi goes to the range three to five days a week and shoots five to six professional matches a year. And that’s how she likes it. “My family is very important to me,” she says. “I want to be home with my girls as much as possible.” As a girl mom, Viscusi wants to teach her girls to shoot and practice safe firearms handling.
Viscusi and her husband started all the girls with the basics and always answer all their questions. “We have a fun and safe time while practicing and leave no mystery to the responsibility of firearm ownership,” she says.
When not at the range or shooting competitions, Viscusi enjoys traveling with her family—especially to the beach. Her husband retired from full-time policing and now serves as a reserve officer while working full time for Glock. She also rides her horse Gumby as much as possible.
Viscusi has a number of professional partnerships with companies like Galco, Leupold, Winchester, Mantis, Axil, Prairie Fire, and gun brand Staccato, maker of her favorite gun to shoot the XL and her favorite gun that she owns, the XC. “Being a part of these companies’ has been tremendously fulfilling in my professional career, and I look forward to continuing the partnerships,” she says.
Now with more than 10 years of competitive shooting under her belt, Michelle Viscusi is glad she took the fork in the road. “The shooting community has been, and always will be, a fun and inviting place for everyone,” she says. “I have met so many great people in this industry that have made this a great journey.”