April 30, 2012
"You know how hard it is to blow your nose with only one lung?"
These words of wisdom were spoken to me at a recent USPSA match by Mike Dame, a nationally-ranked Canadian practical shooter who comes to Michigan matches quite frequently. I've known him for ten years, and quite frequently he says things that surprise me.
Turns out Mike woke up one day recently with a collapsed lung. No injury, no car accident, just a collapsed lung. Knowing Mike, I asked if perhaps this was a side-effect of Canadian beer I hadn't heard about, but he informed me that collapsed lungs sometimes just happen to very tall people (he's 6'5").
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Why am I mentioning this in a Handguns blog? Mike suffered a collapsed lung on Tuesday, and the tube they put in his side to re-inflate it didn't come out until Thursday. He was shooting a USPSA match on Sunday, 3 days later, because he needed to practice for the USPSA Single Stack Nationals (More words of wisdom from Mike — "You know how much it hurts to cough with a tube in your side? They give you morphine for a reason.")
Also at this match at my local club was Greg Panzl, and it's his photo you see at the top of the page. If it looks like he has a weird grip on the gun, that's because he's missing half his index finger, and has learned to shoot by pulling the trigger with his middle finger. He hasn't just learned to shoot, he's earned an A-Class rating in USPSA. That means he's really good, even compared to people who have all their fingers. I don't remember how he lost half his trigger finger, whether it was a gunfight, shark attack, or an ambush by a horde of rabid Oompah-Loompahs, but the fact is he hasn't let it keep him from showing up at the range and kicking butt.
In the Detroit area we have a lot of people who shoot USPSA or IDPA matches (or both) and Greg and Mike aren't exceptional. I shoot with Chuck, a retiree who only has one foot, but he doesn't let that slow him down. In a rare display of tact I haven't asked Mark what he's suffering from, but from the state of his legs and the cane he needs to get in and out of the shooting box I'm guessing it's cerebral palsy. I shoot with cancer survivors, people who have lost their businesses in Michigan's horrible economy, and guys going through messy divorces. Yet they still show up.
I'm not just talking about showing up to the range to plink at some cans, everybody I've mentioned here puts on their game face and shows up to compete.
I don't know what excuse you might be using for not practicing or shooting, but whatever your excuse, I shoot with someone who has a better one.