Twenty-five veteran and recently injured active duty service members gathered at Camp Pendleton, Calif., April 28-29, 2014, for the first air rifle tournament co-sponsored by Paralyzed Veterans of America and the Wounded Warrior Battalion.
Photo by Chris Ennis. View more photos from the Camp Pendleton Air Rifle/Air Pistol Tournament.
The tournament, held at the Wounded Warrior Hope and Care Center at Camp Pendleton, included 25 veterans and newly injured active duty service members involved in shooting sports, with some representing the Marine Corps in the annual Warrior Games in Colorado Springs, Colo.
“The opportunity to work with wounded, ill or injured Marines and team them up with Paralyzed Veterans of America members who understand what they’re going through is significant,” said Fabio Villarroel, associate director of sports and recreation for Paralyzed Veterans of America. “It was an opportunity to have rehabilitation through sports and recreation because it’s not just about the physical recovery but the psychological and social aspects as well.”
In the SH1 division, Air Force veteran Bill Bjornes of the Mid-Atlantic Chapter took first place, with an overall score of 381.2. Marine veteran Lance Weir of the Cal-Diego Chapter took first place in the SH2 division, with an overall score of 415.8. Finally, Marine Gunnery Sergeant John Rojas earned the top spot in the open division, scoring 396.6 points overall.
Paralyzed Veterans of America began sponsoring air rifles and pistols as a sport three years ago and has received a lot of positive reviews from membership, Villarroel said. As Paralyzed Veterans learns more about the sport, it was a natural fit to team up for the first time with the Wounded Warrior Battalion for this event, he added.
“These events represent an opportunity to educate about the programs offered by Paralyzed Veterans of America; it’s not only sports and recreation,” Villarroel said. “For some, it may come into play because they may not be able to continue their career in the military. They may have to return to the civilian world, so they need someone to fight for them. Paralyzed Veterans provides that.”
Learn more about Paralyzed Veterans of America’s adaptive sports programs
Brittany Ballenstedt is a freelance journalist whose work has appeared in several publications, including Government Executive, National Journal, Technology Daily and NextGov.com