Warriors shoot for recovery

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Diana M. Cossaboom
  • 20th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
The Warrior Games, an annual competition amongst the U.S. armed forces, gives wounded military members the opportunity to work toward overcoming fitness boundaries and start or continue the road to recovery.

The road to recovery may be more difficult for some than others, but the dedicated coaching staff helps smooth the road by teaching the warriors the fundamentals of the events and pushing them past what they thought their limits were, said Special Agent Robert Davis, U.S. Air Force Office of Special Investigations Detachment 212 commander.

"My goals for coaching were to push these athletes to their best possible performance for game day," said Davis. "It's great for them to win, but at the same time it's about getting people to learn to live again and refocus their lives."

Davis was one of four coaches for the 14 warriors on the Air Force shooting team.

Davis, a member of the Air Force International Rifle Team, has been shooting competitively since 1993.

"Davis is one of the best marksmen in the Air Force and was recommended to join our shooting team coaching staff by Maj. James Bales, our head coach," said Tony Jasso, Air Force Wounded Warrior adaptive sports program manager. "I've had the honor of serving our warriors with him. He has innovated our shooting program and established real connections with our athletes."

This was Davis' first year coaching for the games and he was proud his warriors took home a gold and three bronze medals.

"It was neat to see people feel like they're in the Olympics, especially the people who were recently injured and made the transformation from sitting in a hospital bed to participating in the games," said Davis.

"Davis brings many talents to our Warrior Games coaching staff," said Jasso. "He demonstrated a genuine passion in helping the wounded, ill, and injured use shooting to aid their recovery."

Davis and the coaching staff created a shooting team that was on fire to train and hungry for success, said Jasso.

"There is a qualification period and then there is a final match," said Davis. "In the final match the crowd is able to make a lot of noise, whereas in the qualification period everything is quiet. It's a different dynamic when everyone is hooting and hollering. I think psychologically it has quite a level of stress."

There are three categories the warriors fall under: Open - includes warriors who have no permanent physical disability, SH2 - Includes warriors who do not have the ability to support the weight of the rifle with their arms, therefore requiring a spring stand, and SH1 - Includes all warriors with a permanent physical disability.

Also, there are three different types of matches: air pistol, air rifle standing, and air rifle prone.

When the warriors are able to focus on the fundamentals and try to push out all the external and internal pressure, that's when they will do their best, otherwise they will psych themselves out, said Davis.

"Shooting offers something that very few sports do," said Davis, "and that's instant constant feedback."

The warriors were provided electronic targets to use for their scoring system during the games.

This year was the most successful year in shooting for the Air Force. It was the first time their team had been awarded four medals.

"His professionalism in training and at the Warrior Games benefited the warriors, our team at the Warrior Games, and the Air Force," said Jasso. "He is our best coach recruit this year and I am very proud of the job he and the shooting coaching staff have done."

The Warrior Games provide a positive atmosphere for the wounded warriors to learn and recover. Davis and fellow coaches dedicate their time to the warriors to ensure they move past any discouragement and embrace successes, whether from winning during the match or winning through self-accomplishment.