USA -(Ammoland.com)- The word “legend” is an overused descriptor in the American lexicon, particularly when describing our sports heroes and all-time greats.
In the case of three-time Olympic medalist, 24-time World Champion, 33-time world-record holder, and 91-time National Champion Lones Wigger, it is truly the only word fitting enough.
There’s no hyperbole when using legend to describe perhaps the best marksman the shooting sports has ever seen.
USA Shooting has chosen 2017 as the year they’ll honor Lones Wigger’s enduring legacy to the sport with the official launch of the Lones Wigger Endowment and Legacy Project. That initial effort began last week with announcement of the Lones Wigger/USAS Jr Olympic Endowment, in partnership with the MidwayUSA Foundation.
Money put toward that endowment will be used to support youth and Junior Olympic initiatives in the future. Every dollar raised in 2017 is being matched 2-to-1 by the generosity of the MidwayUSA Foundation, which means that for every $1,000 donated in the name of Lones Wigger, $3,000 will go towards benefiting youth shooting programs in the future.
Now, the organization’s next step in honoring the man who always put results and his sport first, comes in renaming the USA Shooting headquarters after him. In celebration of his accomplishments in the sport, as well as his 80th birthday on Friday, August 25, USA Shooting will officially dedicate and rename the USA Shooting headquarters as the Lones Wigger Legacy Hall & Shooting Center.
A big celebration will take place to kick-off the organization’s alumni reunion, Hall of Fame induction and Coach Conference, all taking place in Colorado Springs that weekend. The collection of people on-hand to pay their respect to this great competitor, friend and mentor will be impressive and fitting for the type of character Wigger displayed throughout his illustrious career.
Among his biggest admirers is long-time teammate and fellow Hall-of-Famer Lanny Bassham, who tried to provide the perspective necessary in describing Wigger:
“How do you define ‘The Best Ever?’ Would you add up the total medals won to see who is on top? Would you add up the total number of years he has dominated his sport? Would you take a survey of everyone who has been his competitor to determine who received the most votes? Would you look at the number of national and world records held? Not only is Wigger the only name at the top of these lists, no other shooter even comes close.
I am so fortunate to have been his teammate during the 70s. Those were good years for USA rifle. We held all the world records, all the world titles, and Wig lead the way. Oh, some of us had short bursts of brilliance – winning a gold medal or two – but he was the base, the foundation that gave us those many team titles and records. Of all the champions I have faced, he was always the hardest to best.
Early in my career, I asked Wig for some advice on reading the wind. His answer was short and to the point, “Pull the trigger at the right time!” I learned how to read the wind by watching him shoot when we were on separate relays. He is still the master at knowing when to shoot.
Lones Wigger is a master of shooting in adverse conditions. When the wind is blowing the targets off the frames or switching 180 degrees every second; Wig wins. If he only has one minute to get off his last 10 shots, Wig wins. If the weather is so cold your finger freezes to the trigger guard, Wig wins. When I make a list of the Best Ever, Wig wins!”
Read more tributes like this from USA Shooting alumni. If you would like to provide your own tribute, please e-mail Kevin Neuendorf (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Paying homage to a man who has meant as much to his sport as any icon in history is no easy feat. An enduring endowment supporting the thing that matters most to him – like the preservation of youth shooting and the Junior Olympic program he helped build – is a start.
The renaming of USA Shooting headquarters will serve as a constant reminder as to the wide-ranging impact Wigger had while dedicating much of his live to the sport. Reliving some of the tales told by his teammates, alum and USA Shooting Team members, also helps rekindle memories of a storied career.
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