First Annual SOMD Wounded-Warrior Marksmanship Event at Sanner’s Lake Sportsmen’s Club

October 28, 2014

024_5198Sanner’s Lake Sportsmen’s Club hosted an inaugural event at their facilities off of Great Mills Road in Lexington Park.   Honored guests included fifteen Wounded-Warriors and over sixty veterans, active-duty military, Paralympic athletes, and their families.

Participants enjoyed a wide range of outdoor activities throughout the Sanner’s Lake grounds.  Activities included freshwater fishing in several of the Club’s lakes, rifle shooting, shotgun shooting (trap, skeet, and 5-stand), pistol shooting, and archery (recurves, compound-bows, crossbows, and even an exotic  Magyar bow).  The event was offered at no cost to the guests with all equipment and ammunition donated by Club-members.

This event was held with support from the St. Mary’s County Recreation and Parks Department’s Paralympic Sport Club which has been in partnership with Sanner’s Lake for several years in offering one of only eight Paralypmic Sports Clubs in the nation that offer marksmanship sports.  Christi Bishop, the county’s administrator of the Paralympic Sport Southern Maryland said “Working with Sanner’s Lake offers unique recreational opportunities to our county’s residents.  These shooting opportunities are much greater than those offered by far larger communities.”  For those interested in the county’s Paralympics Sports Program, Ms. Bishop can be reached at 301-475-4200-X1802 or christina.bishop@stmarysmd.com.    

CLICK HERE for the county’s Paralympics Sports marksmanship program web page.

024_5164Lunch was catered by Mission BBQ of California, MD.   Everyone greatly enjoyed the excellent quality food – the pulled pork, barbequed turkey-breast, and smoked sausage were especially popular.  The staff from Mission BBQ were consummate professionals and provided tailored service to the individuals with mobility impairments.

Event co-chairs were James Drasgow and Michael “Doc” Holliday.  Doc Holliday is also the Vice-President of Sanner’s Lake Sportsmen’s Club.   Doc Holliday stated “This is a truly great event.  We’re honored by the presence of these great Americans who have served and are serving our nation.”   Jim Drasgow commented that “We are very pleased with the turnout today.  We had originally planned to charter a bus and to bring a bunch of Wounded-Warriors down here from Walter Reed and Bethesda.   It’s just as well that the Marine Corps Marathon up in DC prevented us from bringing down these additional guests, as we filled-up the event with local folks.”

Local representatives in attendance included Commissioners Dan Morris, Todd Morgan, and Cindy Jones.  Candidate for County Commissioner Mike Hewitt and candidate for State Delegate Deb Rey were also in attendance.  The owners of the Sanner’s Lake property – the Willam Edward Sanner, Jr. family (Eddie, Linda, Lauren, Billy, and William III) were also present as VIP guests.  Candidate Rey  is a member of Sanner’s Lake and was one of the volunteers working the event.  She offered the pre-meal blessing.    As she was setting-up for the event, prior to arrival of the guests, Rey commented “I cannot wait to meet these heroes.”

024_5134Although Sanner’s Lake is a private, not-for-profit club and is therefore not required to adhere to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) guidelines, John Mountjoy, the Club’s Past-President/President Emeritus noted that “The Club recently underwent major renovations to bring us up to 21st century standards for marksmanship ranges.  These standards are set by the NRA and the National Shooting Sports Federation and we implemented them with support from nationally-preeminent range-designer Clark Vargas of Jacksonville, FL.  At the same time that we upgraded our ranges, we opted to add accessibility features for shooters with physical challenges since marksmanship sports are especially welcoming to folks with physical disabilities.  We added wheelchair ramps, handicapped parking spaces, knock-down shooting benches for wheelchair-shooters, and other features – it didn’t cost that much extra and our membership supported it enthusiastically.  Coaching a new shooter who has cerebral policy or multiple-amputations is hugely rewarding.  It’s the best feeling in the world when they realize that they can perform this activity just as well as anyone else – their huge smiles make it all worthwhile.”

Doc Holliday added that “We’ve worked with the county to obtain portable restrooms that accommodate wheelchairs, to obtain bite-triggers and purchase other equipment for accommodating shooters with physical challenges.   As the father of a son with Spinal Bifida, I know the importance of such accommodations.  The county has been great to work with and I am extremely proud of Sanner’s Lake’s support for this type of event.  We already host shooters who have cerebral palsy, who have spinal injuries, who are legally blind, who has paraplegia, and who are quadruple amputees.   Our next goal is to hopefully obtain aids that allow shooters that are completely blind to participate through the use of sound-cueing to aim their bows and rifles – although these systems are quite expensive.”

024_5135Jim Drasgow commented that “We had been planning this event for over a year and I’m thrilled that it was so successful.  The number of volunteers who stepped forward to help with this event was wonderful.  We’ll learn from this year’s event and make next year’s even bigger and better.   Next year we’ll probably schedule the event for Spring or early Summer to better avoid conflicts and we’ll definitely bring down the people from Walter Reed and Bethesda.“

In his brief welcoming speech to the participants and guests, Mountjoy noted that, “We welcome you to today’s event, but want your involvement with Sanner’s Lake to be longer-term.  We have matches that are open to the public nearly every weekend.  These can be found on our website at sannerslake.org under the Events – Calendar tab.  We hope to see you at some of our future events.”

Jennifer Ingmire, whose daughter participated as a paralympian athlete said “Talea had a great time.  This was the first time she had a chance to do archery with adaptive equipment and it changed her mind about the sport.  She really loved shooting the rifle with the adaptive hand squeeze trigger.  Everyone who worked with her was wonderful.  They each took their time to see how she wanted to try things and they worked with her to give her a great experience.  She is looking forward to doing this again.”

Background:  Sanner’s Lake Sportsmen’s Club (SLSC) has been in operation since 1951.  It is a not-for-profit organization that offers recreational shooting and fishing activities.  It offers a variety of rifle/handgun/shotgun/archery training classes (including Hunter Education, youth programs, and women’s programs).   A wide range of monthly local matches are hosted at SLSC, with events scheduled for most every weekend.  SLSC also hosts several state-level matches, drawing participants from all over the East coast.  Although Sanner’s Lake membership includes a number of nationally- and internationally-ranked competitors, the matches are friendly and welcoming to all new participants.

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One Response to First Annual SOMD Wounded-Warrior Marksmanship Event at Sanner’s Lake Sportsmen’s Club

  1. Eric on October 28, 2014 at 12:06 pm

    Cheers!!