The 2012 Paralympic Games run August 29 – September 9, 2012. The 277 American athletes named to the 2012 U.S. Paralympic Team will compete in 19 sports contested throughout the 11 days of competition. Among the events will be target shooting. Profiles of Team USA’s Paralympic atheletes, including pistol shooter Eric Hollen and rifle shooter SFC Josh Olson, are provided in the official 2012 U.S. Paralympic Team Media Guide. This handy guide to the Paralympics can be downloaded for free.
Eric Hollen — Paralympic Pistol Shooter
Hollen, a former U.S. Army Ranger in the 2/75 Ranger Regiment, suffered a life-altering injury on his horse farm in Tennessee. Getting involved in competitive pistol shooting has helped Hollen adjust to life after his injury. Showing great determination, Hollen is now one of the top paralympic pistol shooters in the world. At the IPC World Cup Sydney, he won a Silver Medal in Air Pistol and a Bronze Medal in Free Pistol. Hollen is looking forward to the challenge in London: “This has been 10 years in the making and it’s an awesome opportunity to represent my country. I shoot with the best able-bodied athletes in the world here at the U.S. Olympic Training Center and I have the opportunity to now go and win my matches and that’s what I’m setting out to do.” Hollen will compete in the Men’s P1 10-meter Air Pistol event on August 30th. On September 6th, he’ll compete in the 50-meter free Pistol event.
USAMU Rifle Marksman SFC Josh Olson
While on patrol with his unit (101st Airborne Div., 3rd Brigade 1/187) in Iraq in 2003, SFC Josh Olson was struck by a rocket-propelled grenade resulting in the loss of his right leg from the hip down. After spending 18 months at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Olson was assigned to the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit in Fort Benning, Georgia. Olson has been a member of the Paralympic National Team for five years, but this will be the first time Olson competes at the international Paralympic Games. Olson will begin competition on Saturday, September 1 in the 10-meter Air Rifle Prone event followed by the Smallbore (.22 caliber) 50-meter Rifle Prone on Tuesday, September 4. In the video below, you can learn more about Olson’s background and courageous process of rehabilitation.
Texas native Trevor Baucom, a former U.S. Army Blackhawk helicopter pilot, has joined the ranks of Team Smith & Wesson as the S&W’s first disabled veteran shooter. At the NRA’s 2011 Annual Meeting, Baucom was introduced as the newest member of the S&W Team. One of Baucom’s first events will be the prestigious NRA Bianchi Cup, scheduled for May 25-29 in Columbia, Missouri.
Pilot Wounded in Afghanistan
With a distinguished service record of 13 years in the U.S. Army, CW3 Baucom was injured in a helicopter crash while serving his fourth deployment in Afghanistan. The injury, which occurred during a nighttime assault, left the Blackhawk command pilot paralyzed from the waist down. Once back in the USA, Baucom began his rehabilitation in Franklin, TN. There he met Shooting USA host Jim Scoutten, who encouraged Baucom to get involved in competitive shooting. The 31-year-old Vet began training with the goal of competing at the 2011 NRA Nat’l Action Pistol Championship, shooting against able-bodied competitors.
While the NRA Bianchi Cup will be Baucom’s first competitive shooting event, the avid hunter and recreational shooter is more focused on enjoying the experience than wondering what his score will be. That said, Baucom is training diligently to improve his X-count.
“For me, this is all about breaking down barriers,” said Baucom. “This opportunity presents a unique challenge for me to push my abilities. I hope that my participation will lead to other wounded warriors taking an interest in competitive shooting and that more matches like the Bianchi Cup will take a look at how they can open up spots for other disabled shooters.”
Open Range Day in Phoenix, AZ is a special NRA program providing shooting opportunities for persons with disabilities. Under the direction of Vanessa Ross, NRA Disabled Shooting Services Manager, the 2d Annual Open Range Day was a great success. Art Merrill, a freelance writer for Shooting Illustrated, provides this on-the-spot report from Phoenix’s Ben Avery Shooting Facility.
Open Range Day Report (by Art Merrill)
Vanessa’s safety briefing Saturday morning was the no-nonsense pronouncement we’re used to hearing from rangemasters – except for the “sip & puff” part: “Always always always keep the gun pointed in a safe direction! Keep your finger away from the trigger until you’re ready to shoot. If you’re using the sip & puff trigger mechanism, don’t put it your mouth ’til you’re ready to shoot. If you need help, if you have a question, don’t be stubborn – ask a volunteer.”
Indoor Air Rifle Shooting Popular
The air rifles appealed to a lot of shooters today, and not just because it was indoors, sheltered from the 95-degree desert spring. Every shooter enjoys hitting reactive targets, in this case, air rifle metallic silhouette targets. But there are other reasons, as well: “I don’t like loud bangs,” Ashleigh Justice said. “I liked the .22 pistol, but the .38 was too much.”
Ashleigh had never shot a firearm before today. What motivated her to come out to Open Range Day? “I was afraid of guns. I wanted to get over it,” she said. “My husband shoots and I was tired of the anxiety I felt around guns.” Beyond that, however, was a desire to push the envelope of her disability to achieve something more: “I want to be good at something that takes skill more than physical ability”, she said. Looks like she found it: she, too came away from the firing line talking about the possibility of a regular air rifle competition.
Shooting Provides Important Challenge
For Mike Tagliapetra, it’s all about challenge. You can feel it in his handshake even before he talks about competing in marathons and even a triathlon – using his wheelchair. Mike’s motivation, a quote from writer Ella Wheeler Wilcox, is boldly emblazoned on his business card: “There is no chance, no destiny, no fate that can hinder or control the firm resolve of a determined soul.”
Open Range Day is winding down now, and the shooters are all going home. They had different motivations for being here and yet, because every participant said they want to return again next year. Something about the shooting sports is satisfying all of their motives. If there’s a common denominator to these motives, it’s the desire for challenge and the satisfaction of success – and empowerment – that comes from it. In the shooting sports, yes, there’s only one match winner; but every time we approach the firing line we are competing, not only against others, but also with ourselves to accomplish our personal best.
Contributions from many businesses made Open Range Day possible. Sponsors included: Birchwood Casey (targets), Colt (firearms), Davidson’s (Weatherby shotguns), Kowa (spotting scopes), Lapua (ammo), Pyramid Air (pellets), Ruger (firearms), Savage Arms (rifles), White Flyer (trap targets), and Winchester (ammo). Symbius Medical catered lunch, and Arizona’s Game & Fish Department made its world-class facility available for the event.
A successful air rifle clinic for disabled shooters was held recently in Statesville, North Carolina. Coordinated by NRA Disabled Shooting Services Manager Vanessa Warner, the event was co-sponsored by Bridge II Sports and Turning Point Nation and was hosted at the VFW Post 2031.
Warner explained the clinic’s purpose: “One facet of my job involves introducing competitive air rifle shooting to people with disabilities through shooting clinics. Shooting clinics include an overview of air rifles, equipment, shooting positions, sight alignment and trigger control. At the conclusion of each clinic, a participant has a good understanding of competitive shooting and may even be able to compete in an air rifle match.”
Clinic Trains Many New Shooters
Warner brought 10 air rifles and 10 Creedmoor Sports Range Systems, a portable backstop that allows indoor shooting with pellet guns. The clinic began at 10:00 am and Warner reviewed equipment, types of shooting, the components of an air rifle and positions. By the end of the day, Warner and her assistants had introduced competitive air rifle shooting to more than 35 individuals whose ages ranged from 10 to 60, plus four reporters and many volunteers.
Warner reports that “This was one of the best organized and well-run of all of the clinics I’ve attended. There were almost as many volunteers as there were participants and I even got one of the reporters to try one of the guns. Bridge II Sports and Turning Point Nation deserve a huge pat on the back for a job well done.” Warner offered special thanks to VFW Post 2031, and post Commander Gerry Bancroft, for providing a venue on short notice.
One of the most popular activities at the 2009 NRA Annual Meeting was target shooting at an on-site air rifle range at the Phoenix Convention Center. There, shooters of all ages (and abilities) lined up to try a variety of air rifles and pistols at 10 meters (about 33 feet). Airguns were provided by Crosman, Beeman and other manufacturers.
From elementary school kids to senior citizens, a wide cross-section of visitors came to the air rifle range. It was great to see three and even four generations on the firing line. For many of the youngsters, this was their first opportunity to shoot a quality air rifle. A dedicated crew of volunteer range assistants provided instruction and ensured that safety was paramount.
NRA Disabled Shooting Services
In addition to the able-bodied, a number of shooters with disabilities or impairments joined the fun at the air rifle range. The NRA provided adaptive equipment that allowed shooters in wheelchairs or with limited arm strength to get (and stay) “on target”. Our friend Vanessa Warner, Manager of Disabled Shooting Services for the NRA, was helping out at the airgun range. When we arrived on Saturday morning with the cameras, Vanessa was helping Wayne, a wheelchair-bound, disabled veteran. Due to health problems, Wayne, a natural righty, was learning to aim with his left eye and pull the trigger with his left index finger. Switching from righty to left isn’t easy, but Wayne pulled it off.
Using a rifle rest, Wayne shot superbly, ripping out the center of the target. It turns out Wayne had learned a thing or two about marksmanship in his younger days — while in the military in the ’60s Wayne qualified as expert with four different weapons. He certainly demonstrated that even disabled shooters can enjoy the shooting sports, given the kind of adaptive support the NRA is providing under Warner’s leadership. In the video below, Vanessa explains what the NRA offers for disabled shooters.
It’s great when a talented person we know gets selected for an important job. It’s even better when that person will now serve the shooting sports community in a key role. Vanessa Warner has accepted the position of Disabled Shooting Services Manager for the NRA. This is a great choice by the NRA, and shooters nationwide will benefit.
Vanessa is a respected long-range shooter with an impressive resume in marketing and communications. She will work within the National Rifle Association’s Competitive Shooting Division to improve the opportunities for disabled and physically-impaired shooters of all ages.
Vanessa Warner (bottom row, left) at 2006 F-Class Nationals.
Warner’s responsibilities include planning, developing, and implementing shooting and hunting programs for the disabled community. Warner also serves as Secretary for both the NRA Protest Committee and the President’s Committee on Disabled Shooting.
Vanessa has big plans for the future of the NRA’s Disabled Shooting Services: “If you picture a wagon wheel, there is a center hub and a number of spokes that all connect to the outside rim. I want Disabled Shooting Services to be the hub,” Warner said. “Each of the spokes represents a shooting discipline and the outside rim is the shooting community at large. It is my dream to have full inclusion of disabled shooters on the firing lines-to have disabled and able-bodied shooters compete ‘shoulder-to-shoulder’ in matches.”