Jim Sursely lost both of his legs and his left arm on Jan. 11, 1969, when he stepped on a land mine while serving in the Army in Vietnam. Just a week removed from that anniversary, it still could be an emotional time for Sursely. But Sursely doesn’t look at it that way even though many veterans he said look at the anniversary of when they were injured as “They’re Alive Day.”
“It’s just kind of the anniversary of my injury I guess,” Sursely said. “Every day I get out of bed I still thank God I’m still alive.”
Sursely’s mission is to make sure other wounded warriors can have the same kind of perspective and are able to recover through Wounded Warriors Outdoors.
That’s why Sursely has been coming to Carson City for the WSF/USA Shooting Team Sporting Clays Shoot for many years now and was at the Capitol City Gun Club for the 2018 version of the event on Thursday which featured veterans being helped by Wounded Warriors Outdoors and several members of the USA Shooting Team who are hopefuls for the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics. The event is presented by the Wild Sheep Foundation, the USA Shooting Team and Wounded Warriors Outdoors in conjunction with the Wild Sheep Foundation Convention in Reno.
Sursely is from Apopka, Fla., where Wounded Warriors Outdoors was founded and Sursely has been involved with the organization since its inception. “It’s just a phenomenal experience for all of us,” he said. “It’s all about the fun and the experience. We’re out here having a great time.”
And even without the use of two legs and an arm, Sursely is still an excellent shooter as he demonstrated when he quickly hit two clays out of the air like there was nothing to it. “Fantastic, it’s a great facility,” said Sursely about the Capitol City Gun Club. “You’ve actually got a great environment, snow-capped mountains.”
Yancy Baer lost his leg in Iraq while serving in the Army and also battled a tumor in which he needed 10 months of chemotherapy. Baer, who lives in San Antonio, was also impressed with the Capitol City Gun Club. “It’s a beautiful facility out here,” he said. “It’s absolutely amazing. It’s got a great variety of targets.”
Brian Meyer was a bomb technician in the Marines in Afghanistan and lost part of his right arm and part of his left hand trying to defuse a bomb on March 14, 2011. Despite being right handed, Meyer learned how to shoot left handed even though he had never hunted before being wounded.
“It’s just made me a big-time hunter,” said Meyer about Wounded Warriors Outdoors. Meyer, who lives near San Diego, has hunted all over the country, in South American and in Canada as a result of the organization.
He added participating in events like the one on Thursday “continues focusing me on my recovery.”
Among the USA Shooting Team members participating on Thursday was two-time Olympian Frank Thompson, who competed in the 2012 and 2016 Olympics. Thompson finished eighth in 2012 and 21st in 2016 but likes his medal prospects for 2020. “I’m excited for what 2020 holds,” said Thompson, a rancher from western Nebraska.
One of this country’s best hopes for a gold medal in shooting in 2020 may be Jake Wallace from Colorado Springs, Colorado. Wallace is a World Cup medalist and the world record holder in trap shooting with a perfect score – 125 out of 125. He too was impressed with the Capitol City Gun Club. “Capitol City Gun Club really does a great job every year,” he said.
Hank Garvey, from Boston, a National Junior Olympic champion, is another Olympic hopeful for 2020. “I actually really like this range,” said Garvey about the Capitol City Gun Club.
On the women’s side, Emily Hampson, from St. Charles, Mo., who’s an International Junior Cup champion, National Junior Olympic champion and World Championship Team member, is among this country’s best hopes for the 2020 Olympics. “The range is beautiful,” said Hampson about the Capitol City Gun Club. “The mountains are awesome. They’re so beautiful.”
USA Shooting Team chief executive officer Keith Emlow attended the event. “We’re ramping up for 2020 Tokyo,” he said.
He said it’s his mission to get as many Americans in shooting to the 2020 Olympics “and get them on the podium.”
Wild Sheep Foundation committee chairman Terry Melby said local businesses and organizations really support the event. “Everyone chips in really nicely,” he said.
“It’s a really big deal to get these guys here to shoot with us,” said Melby about the wounded veterans and the USA Team Shooting members. “It’s pretty impressive.”
Another USA Shooting Team member who participated was Mason Talbert, a 2017 Junior Olympic and National sport pistol bronze medalist.
Other Wounded Warrior guest who participated were; Josh Sust, Marines; Matt Amos, Marines; Jason Pacheco, Marines; Tommy Neuens, Army doctor; and Steve Peeples of Wounded Warriors Outdoors.