As I type this post, my oldest daughter Vanessa is sleeping next to me in the Hospital after having major back surgery two days ago. There is something about times like this that have a way of putting a lot of things into perspective. As soon as she knew she was going to have surgery her mother and I asked her what she wanted to do. She said go to the Rimfire Challenge World Championships in Arkansas. As I discussed on the podcast with Jeff Jones and Heather Martin, it was a great time to see my extended family all across the United States. Something happened at this match which I took for granted, my daughter met all of these amazing people as well. She had met a few people from training at my house and a few matches we have gone to together, but this was the first large match of this nature she attended.
Vanessa quickly appreciated all of the great people in the shooting sports and she has been to the range a couple of times learning to shoot. When we returned from the trip, she had a couple of requests to see some people before her surgery. Her first request was to go out to dinner with the Baker’s; Mike and Elsie. Bryan Haaker has two of the best Brand Ambassadors in the sport! They have adopted Vanessa and our family as their own. They are a loving and caring couple who do so much for the sport, more than people realize. It is not their style to post all of the great deeds they do on social media, nor is it my place to say, but there are a lot of junior shooters out there who have benefited from their generosity.
The weekend prior to her surgery my daughter asked to see some of her newly found friends, the Fox brothers; Seth, Ian, and Brennen. They have been to our home before with their grandfather Chet Whistle, but became closer at the World Rimfire match. The timing worked out and we had a range session and a cook out! It was a brisk 35 degrees outside when we started shooting on Saturday just after 8AM. No worries, we broke out two of the propane heaters and what was briskly cold outside became mild and enjoyable. We started off trying newly acquired guns, after all this is what you do at the range! We then did some training on a Steel Challenge stage. After a couple thousand empty cases stacking up at our feet we turned to the newly acquired plate rack from GT Targets. It was at this point a good time at the range turned into a time to remember!
We took some of our training tracking forms and we started a friendly competition shooting our CWA Rimfire Pistol Open guns. You had to shoot either the 1911 platform or the 2011 style grip. To add a little bit more excitement we went live on facebook to document the shenanigans! With four of us competing, my daughter was an amazing score keeper who kept us honest. It wasn’t long before she rocked the plates with my Oreo Blizzard CWA and she did amazing. We then turned to ‘run what you brung’ round where you could shoot any gun you wanted to. Some shot RFPO, RFRO, and I brought out my JP GMR 15. It was an absolute riot! The friendly banter kept spirits high. Regardless of skill level, the sound of the ‘Ting’ on the six 8” targets was gratifying. Just when someone had a ‘good’ run there was always an insatiable need to try to go faster. It was a good old fashion drag race.
After the guns were packed up, we celebrated the day with a cookout. The boys presented my daughter with unicorn to keep her comfortable on her big day. When Monday came, the only thing that brought her comfort during one of the most stressful times of her life, was this unassuming unicorn with a small gold horn.
This weekend was not about shooting sub 1.5 second runs, breaking the 60 second barrier, improving first shots, it was about having FUN and taking a few moments away from the stress of life. Ironically, these are the main reasons why I started to shoot in the first place. I share this story with you as a reminder to have fun while you are at the range. Life is way too short not to shoot and have fun!
See you out on the range soon!
4 thoughts on “The Little Unicorn”
Sue and I are praying for Vanessa to have a full recovery. Our best to you and your family.
Thank you so very much – it is greatly appreciated!
Vanessa, get well soon. I look forward to seeing you at the range. I’ll bet your dad will give up the oreo blizzad when you’re ready to compete. Steve, I hate to tell you this but this is your best article yet.
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Thank you Frank – I truly appreciate it sir! See you soon!