The Adaptive Warrior

The words “Never Quit” are thrown around quite a bit and it seems they have been watered down to some extent. Then you work with some amazing people who define that phrase.

Adapt and overcome

With a long standing war we have seen many of our wounded warriors achieve amazing accomplishments. The effort they put into their accomplishments is inspiring to many and I wanted to share some of my observations about two who recently participated in our recent Level 2 Pistol class. The important thing to remember is that each of them is having to adapt to their new environment. The accommodations they make are necessary to achieve the same results as everyone else in class. I find it incredibly rewarding to work with these athletes, as they work hard and don’t complain. I may have little patience with some in our classes simply because of my exposure to these warriors. They don’t want sympathy, they just want to work hard to achieve a goal. So, if you are in a class with me and you feel me getting frustrated with your performance, keep it in check, because I may be comparing you to these guys.

Standards…hell yeah

One warrior is confined to a wheelchair after being injured in a gunfight in Iraq. It’s hard not to recognize him these days as this Marine has done much to bring credit the Corps. When I first came across him at his very first class, he was the first adaptive warrior I had the pleasure of working with and it was not without it’s challenges. I contemplated how to find the right path in order to get the most out of him. I’ll admit at first I wasn’t sure, but in the end I said to myself, “fuck it” and treated him no differently. What I mean by that is demand the same level of performance from him as I do every other student. I can remember asking him how he was going to manage the recoil and with time I have watched him develop some of the best firearms skills I have seen: consistent, accurate and deadly.

Never quit as a lifestyle

The other adaptive warrior I came into contact with was a longtime friend and teammate. After leaving the Teams he suffered a traumatic spinal cord injury and was paralyzed from the neck down. Doctors routinely told him he would never walk again. Little did they know that this was no ordinary patient, but a patient with a drive that surpasses that poor little bunny. With time and effort he started to walk again. As an athlete and owner of a fitness company he found his own path around those challenges. We ran into each other at a Teammate’s funeral here in Texas and after catching up I couldn’t believe his story. He recently contacted me and wanted to get back to what he knew, shooting. For many of us, it is our shoreline of sorts and after discussing it with him over the phone I was excited to bring these two warriors together in one of our classes. He struggled as signs of the injury were still evident in his dexterity. Despite the injury and complications I was thoroughly impressed with his ability to get back on the horse. He had to adapt in many ways and I want to say a special thanks to one of the students in class for lending a hand when I was otherwise occupied, but he shot hard. I knew him on active duty and he was a crack shot for sure. It was awesome to see him getting back to his roots.

The forge

One night over dinner I sat back as they discussed the hardships they each had to go through. Forging through adversity is sometimes the most difficult of challenges, but the most rewarding. It shows your true character and I must admit I am honored to know both of these men and call them my friends. It just proves there is no limit to the human spirit, that mental toughness is truly the key to success. Conviction, will, and tenacity are words I use to describe many of our adaptive warriors and these two were no different.

Bottom line is when I hear people complain about hard training, I think of these adaptive warriors and can’t help but think, “what’s your excuse?”.

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