December 17th, 2017

Lones Wigger, Great USA Olympic Shooter, Passes at Age 80

Lt. Col. Lones Wigger Olympic Team USA shooter gold medalist passes away 1937 2017

Ret. Army Lt. Col. Lones W. Wigger, Olympic shooter and international champion, passed away on the evening of December 14, 2017 at his home in Colorado Springs, Colorado of complications from pancreatic cancer. He was 80 years old. By many measures, Wigger could be called the best iron sights, position shooter in history. During his shooting career, Wigger won 111 medals and set or tied 29 world records in international competition, more than any other shooter in the world. He was on the USA Olympic Shooting Team in 1964, 1968, 1972, and 1980.

Kelly McMillan mourns Wigger: “My heart is broken. Sometimes something happens that though you may have been expecting it, when it happens the effect that it has on you is a complete surprise. I feel honored to have attended his [80th] Birthday Celebration in August and was extremely fortunate to have him on my radio show a little over a month ago. I am honored to have known him and to call him my friend… I miss him already.”

A Lifetime of Shooting Excellence
Originally from Fort Benton, Montana, Wigger won three Olympic medals in his career including Golds in 1964 and 1972. His resume also includes 24 World Championship Gold Medals and 29 World Records. The retired Lt. Col. also served his country in the U.S. Army with tours of duty in Vietnam in 1967 and 1971. Wigger was primed for Olympic success in 1980 but never got the chance due to the U.S. boycott.

Wigger is often regarded as the greatest competitive rifle shooter ever to have taken aim for the United States. He won more medals in international shooting competition (111) than any other shooting athlete in the world and is the only athlete to win medals in all three Olympic rifle shooting disciplines. Wigger is the only USA Shooting Team member ever elected to the U.S. Olympic Committee’s Hall of Fame.

Lt. Col. Lones Wigger Olympic Team USA shooter gold medalist passes away 1937 2017

Wigger was a USA Olympic shooting team member in 1964, 1968, 1972, and 1980. The 1964 effort resulted in a Gold Medal. He won the gold for the 3-position small-bore rifle. In 1972, Wigger won the Gold Medal for 3-position Free Rifle. Wigger also competed on five Pan American Games teams, where he won five Silver and 13 Gold medals. A retired Army Lt. Colonel, Wigger was a Vietnam Veteran who spent 25 years on active duty, retiring with the rank of Lt. Colonel. While in the Army, Wiggers also competed with the USAMU.

Wisdom from Wigger — The Psychology of Winning

by Lones Wigger, Olympic Medalist

Lt. Col. Lones Wigger Olympic Team USA shooter gold medalist passes away 1937 2017It’s pretty complicated — this subject of dealing with pressure. I’m a precision shooter and have learned to excel in that discipline. You’ve got to learn to shoot the desired scores at home and in training. And once you’re capable of shooting the scores, you may not shoot the same way in the match because of the match pressure. As a result, it takes 3-4 years to learn how to shoot, and another 3-4 years to learn how to win — to deal with the match pressure. It takes several more years to learn how to do it when it counts.

To win, there are several things you have to learn how to do. You have to do it from within. You have to learn how to train just as if you were in a big competition. You work on every shot. You have got to learn to treat it just like a match — to get the maximum value out of every shot.

You have got to use the same technique in practice and in training. A lot of shooters have a problem because they change their technique from practice to the match. In competition, you work your ass off for every shot. You have to approach the training the same way.

A second way to combat pressure is to shoot in every competition you can get into so that you become accustomed to it.

Do Everything Possible to Prepare
The third technique is preparation. Before you are going to shoot in a big competition, train hard to do everything you can to raise your scores. So when you’re in the match, you know that you have done everything humanly possible to get ready for the competition. If you have self-doubt, you will not shoot well. You have to have the will to prepare to win.

When Gary Anderson was a kid, he couldn’t afford a gun or ammunition. He had read about the great Soviet shooters. With his single shot rifle, he would get into position, point that gun and dry fire for hours at a time in the three different positions. He had tremendous desire. He wanted to win and he did whatever he could to get there. When he finally got into competition, he shot fantastic scores from the beginning.

Visualize Winning to Train the Subconscious Mind
A little bit of psychology: You picture in your mind what you want to do. You have to say, OK, I’m going to the Olympics and perform well. Picture yourself shooting a great score and how good it feels. You are training your subconscious mind. Once you get it trained, it takes over. A coach taught me to visualize the outcome, and it worked. Eventually you train your subconscious and it believes you can win. At first I didn’t know about teaching the subconscious to take over, but now I do it all the time. And it certainly worked for me at the 1972 Olympics. What it really takes is training and doing the same thing in training as at a match. If you are “just shooting,” you are wasting your time.

This above text comes from an interview with Lones Wigger by Jock Elliot, part of a three-part series, The Fine Art of Not Cracking Under Pressure. CLICK HERE to READ FULL ARTICLE featuring other interviews with Brian Zins, Bruce Piatt, Carl Bernosky and Ernie Vande Zande.

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