U.S. MILITARY ACADEMY, West Point, N.Y., June 28, 2016 – In a white room here June 19, a row of shooters carefully pointed their air pistols 10 meters from small boxes containing tiny electronic bullseyes that, when “hit,” signaled a monitor showing the result, accurate within less than a millimeter.
Only the soft tapping sound of the shots were audible on the range and a similar range next door, where other shooters steadied air rifles during the 2016 Department of Defense Warrior Games held June 15-21 here.
The Marine Corps team took the lion’s share of medals for the air pistol open competition, as Marine veteran Sgt. Logan Tash earned gold with a total score of 191.1; Marine veteran Sgt. Clayton McDaniel took home the silver, with 187.4; and Air Force veteran Staff Sgt. Joshua Matticks snagged the bronze, with154.6.
In air pistol SH1 competition, U.K. armed forces veteran Lance Cpl. Mark Martin-Davy earned a gold medal with a 185.1 score. The silver and bronze medals went respectively to U.S. Southern Command Army veteran Sgt. Major Tyler Marciano, with a 177 tally; and Army Staff Sgt. Gregory Quarles, with a 157.8 score.
Female shooters also made their mark, particularly in the air rifle prone open competition, with retired Navy Lt. jg Laura Root grabbing gold, with a total score of 210; Air Force Master Sgt. Zarah Hartsock claimed silver, with 206.2, and Navy Chief Petty Officer Jeannette Tarqueno bagged the bronze with 185.2.
In the air rifle prone SH1 competition, Air Force veteran Tech. Sgt. Brian Schaaf’s score of 208.9 earned him a gold medal. Quarles picked up a silver medal, with a 207.4 score; and Navy Chief Petty Officer Maria Torres earned the bronze, with a 182.9 score.
For air rifle prone SH2 competition, Navy veteran Petty Officer 3rd Class Henry Sawyer netted gold with 207.7; Air Force veteran Master Sgt. Jesse Graham captured silver, with 201; and Air Force Staff Sgt. Sebastiana Lopez-Arellano took home the bronze, with a 178 score.
Competitors Look Forward
Root said her teammates performed impressively through mutual support, several with only about two weeks of practice prior to the Warrior Games.
“Every single person here has lost a large part of their lives to an illness or an injury and we all have had to recreate ourselves and define what’s next in our lives,” Root said. “So instead of looking backward, we get together and we look forward and we’re just readapting to the next steps in our lives.”
Other athletes echoed her perspective, noting the confidence that comes with being able to immediately relate and bond with teammates and competitors alike.
“It’s the first time somebody with my condition like [post-traumatic stress disorder] has actually felt safe, said U.K. armed forces Cpl. Richard Cave. “It’s given me a bit of a buzz and my teammates have felt the same way. It’s just like coming home to a family.”
Shooters participated in air pistol and air rifle competitions at the 2016 DoD Warrior Games according to disability classifications and shooting rules that follow the 2016 International Paralympic Committee rules, except where modified:
— PTSD/TBI with minimal or no physical impairments.
— Minimal static balance issues.
— Orthopedic injuries resulting in minimal physical impairments.
— Tremors that do not result in loss of strength.
— Spinal Cord Injury- Paraplegia (The loss of motor or sensory function in lower extremities).
— Single or bilateral amputations in lower extremities.
— Combination of loss of strength and flexibility in the ankle, knee, or hip joints.
— Minimum of 40 percent loss of mobility in the ankle, knee, or hip joints.
— Minimum of 40 percent loss of flexibility in the ankle, knee, or hip joints.
— May use a wheelchair due to balance or standing/walking ability.
Shooters in this category that also have an upper body impairment that impacts their ability to load their own equipment may ask the competition director to allow for their assistant to load the weapon during competition.
— Upper body impairments causing the shooter to be unable to support the weight of the air rifles with their arms, and therefore requiring a spring stand.
— Single or bilateral amputations in upper extremities.
— Spinal cord injury – Tetraplegia, is also referred to as quadriplegia and includes partial or total loss of use of all limbs and torso and usually involves both sensory and motor.
— Combination of loss of strength and flexibility in the wrist, elbow or shoulder.
— Minimum of 40 percent loss of mobility in the wrist, elbow, or shoulder joints.
— Minimum of 40 percent loss of flexibility in the wrist, elbow, or shoulder joints.
SH3 Visually Impaired Classification
— Shooters with a best practical bilateral eye correction visual impairment of 20/200 or worse.
— Shooters must provide supporting documentation of official eye examination performed by a licensed optometrist or ophthalmologist (eye surgeon,) which specifies the vision/visual acuity for each eye and both eyes combined and must be documented.
Visually impaired shooters use weapons fitted with a special telescopic-style scope containing electronics which convert the amount of light it receives into a varying pitch tone.
The Navy will be hosting the 2017 DoD Warrior Games in Chicago.