As of Thursday, June 7, 2010 at 10:55 a.m., Christie Hill-Smith of Memphis, Tennessee is a three-time National Veterans Wheelchair Games medalist; quite the feat for a first time participant. With victories in 9-Ball, Bowling, and Swimming, the only thing left on the table is Air Gun – and those results should be released any second now.

As part of the U.S. Army Military Police, Christie's life took a turn in September of 2001.

“After that happened, I thought to myself there was no way I was going to sit this out,” said Christie. “It was time to get in the action.”

Soon she became one of the first Combat MPs in Iraq. Not one to sit behind the lines waiting to hear about the missions of others, she immediately jumped into the fray.

“I had Kid Rock playing on my iPod, firing that M2 49 and singing at the top of my lungs,” she said.

Now her goals and musical choices have changed. More

There may just be one relay left, but there's still plenty of material in the pipeline; more pictures, more stories, and - soon enough - the final scores.

NRAblog will post the scores as soon as they're available, but until then, here are a few more images from the 30th National Veterans Wheelchair Games in Denver, Colorado.

General Hudson at the 30th National Veterans Wheelchair Games in Denver, Colorado on NRAblog Brigadier General William E. Hudson, Assistant Adjutant General of the Colorado Air National Guard, stopped by the Air Gun competition at the 30th National Veterans Wheelchair Games in Denver, Colorado.

"We gave him a brief run down of the competition, how the ten meter shoot is part of both Olympic and Paralympic games," said one volunteer. "He was impressed that these every day competitors are shooting on the same course as those highly trained athletes."

Having previously encountered disabled veterans at locations such as the Center for the Intrepid in San Antonio, Texas, General Hudson was also shown how those with higher levels of impairment shot without use of their hands. Pictured to the right with NRA Disabled Shooting Manager Vanessa Ross, the crew introduced General Hudson to the sip-and-puff.

"The sip-and-puff is a great tool for these veterans," said NRA Disabled Shooting Manager Vanessa Ross. "With just a single release of air, and the assisted aiming of a volunteer, they can fire their guns right on target."

Stay tuned to NRAblog as we continue to follow the action here at the 30th National Veterans Wheelchair Games in Denver, Colorado.

There's a constant crowd here at the 30th National Veterans Wheelchair Games in Denver, Colorado. In the lobby, in the halls, and at every event are hundreds of volunteers. With camouflage pants and white T-shirts, those in the Capitol Ballroom, where the Air Gun event takes place, are from the 244th Engineer Battalion out of Aurora, Colorado.

“Lt. Colonel Henning thought it would be a good way to get our soldiers more involved in the community,” said 2nd Lieutenant Keith Robinson. “It’s also a helpful way to remind them of the sacrifices countless others have made in the defense of our country.”

At 52 soldiers strong, the work of the 244th has not gone unnoticed.

“It blows my mind,” said one shooter from Hampton Roads, Virginia. “They could be at home, watching television in the air conditioning, instead they're here making it possible for us to run into our old friends and help us compete.”

And getting here, to paraphrase, was more than half the battle. It took three months worth of negotiations between the Reserves, the Paralyzed Veterans of America, and other branches of the military to make their participation possible. It was the memory of a meeting in Iraq that let Lt. Robinson know it was worth the effort.

“There was a meeting with the Joint Chiefs,” Robinson recalled. “One of their aides had a prosthetic foot. There, serving in a combat zone, with a prosthetic foot. If he could do that, then we could certainly find a way to volunteer at this event.”

But for some it means more than that. It’s more than posting targets, listening to stories, or carrying rifles. For some it’s about respect.

“When I came back from Vietnam, we didn’t get near this level of recognition,” said the Hampton Roads competitor. “When I go home, I’m going to tell all they guys back at the VA what they missed.”

When the competition winds up Thursday evening here in Denver, Colorado, ten relays of shooters will have made their way through the Hyatt Regency's Capital Ballroom. With the help of family, friends, and volunteers, they unpack their guns, sight in the rifles, and take their shot at the medals.

Unfortunately, scores are being held until the competition is complete. Until then, we'll do our best to fill the void with pictures, profiles, and more.

First shot at the 30th National Veterans Wheelchair Games in Denver, Colorado went off with a plink. That’s exactly how it sounds here at the Air Gun competition. Competitors display a wide array of emotions; some are intense, some are smiling, and some are satisfied with the mere act of competing.

“We’ve seen a wonderful change in our guys,” said a group leader from California. “They find a sport in which they can flourish and their smiles are contagious.”

The stories are as diverse as those who are shooting; An Army ranger injured post-retirement, an officer with multiple sclerosis, an enlisted man wounded in combat. They come from California, from Ohio, from Texas, and more.

Each competitor shoots three rounds of twenty shots in thirty minutes. Only one shot per target … with exceptions of course. No matter what the results, they find a way to make it through.

With the first round complete, all that’s left is the scoring. We’ll post any updates as soon as possible.

The 30th National Veterans Wheelchair Games on NRAblog The Fourth of July is more than Independence Day for hundreds of disabled veterans. In addition to the fireworks and barbecues, the 30th National Veterans Wheelchair Games takes off in Denver, Colorado.

That's where you'll find hundreds of Veteran athletes, NRA Disabled Shooting Manager Vanessa Ross and NRAblog. Founded in 1981, the Veterans Wheelchair Games is open to any retired serviceman with spinal cord injuries, certain neurological conditions, amputations or other mobility impairments. That year's competition had less than 100 participants from 14 states.

Since then, attendance has ballooned into the hundreds with competitors coming from as far as Puerto Rico and Great Britain. While events such as rugby, swimming, track, and basketball will be well on their way, Warner is on hand in Denver with the air gun competition which starts at 8 a.m. Mountain Time on Tuesday, July 6. Be sure to check back on NRAblog for reports from the games and updates on the scores.  

Vanessa Ross, Manager of NRA Disabled Shooting Services, sent NRAblog the following recap of 16th Annual Endeavor Games in Edmond, Oklahoma:

The University of Central Oklahoma hosted their 11th Annual Endeavor Games this weekend in Edmond, Oklahoma. The Endeavor Games is a multisport competition for people with disabilities. In addition to the track and field, sitting volleyball and swimming, they also have air gun competition. In years past, they have used a variety of air guns from the break-open style to compressed air and a multitude of different air pistols.

This year, in an effort to improve the quality of equipment and introduce participants to a higher level of competitive shooting, the NRA provided the rifles and pistols as well as any adaptive equipment that was needed. As NRA's Manager of Disabled Shooting, I was on hand to conduct the shooting clinics on Thursday, June 10, and the shooting matches on Saturday, June 12.

Thursday’s Adaptive Shooting Clinic consisted of safety rules, the anatomy of a gun, adapted shooting equipment and positions, and the five fundamentals of breaking a good shot. Each participant was provided with a packet of information to take with them and left with first hand knowledge of what was going to be required for Saturday's matches.

One class participant was Tyler Bowman. Tyler lost both of his arms in an electrical accident three years ago. While he shoots at home with his father, had never shot in a competition before. Tyler was reluctant to come back for the competition but, after giving it some thought, he decided he had nothing to loose and returned Saturday morning for the match.

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Vanessa Ross, Manager of NRA Disabled Shooting Services, shares the following on her adaptive shooting clinic in Georgetown, Indiana with NRAblog:

The prospect of being on TV is always pretty exciting. The prospect of helping to raise awareness of competitive shooting for people with disabilities through a television show is thrilling. We had just that chance this past weekend at the Indiana State Rifle and Pistol Association’s home range with Shooting USA on hand to film an Adaptive Shooting Clinic.

NRA’s Disabled Shooting Services traveled to Georgetown, Indiana to conduct an Adaptive Shooting Clinic for the members of the Kentucky/Indiana Paralyzed Veterans of America. A few of the shooters will be traveling to the 30th Annual National Veterans Wheelchair Games in Denver, Colorado, in July and this was a way for them to improve their scores and hopefully bring home the gold.

Turnout for the clinic was very low, but Shooting USA TV’s http://www.shootingusa.com/index.html Segment Producer Mark Shafer, assured us that while a packed firing line would have been nice, the low numbers allowed them to do a more intimate profile on each of the participants.

The clinic began at 10 a.m. and lasted until noon. Each of the participants was asked to stay to do some “shooting for the camera” where each shooter’s shots were filmed as they hit the target. This was accomplished by calling a cease fire, making the line safe and allowing the camera man, Mike, to go downrange and set up the camera on a target. Once that footage was taped, another cease fire was called. Mike then turned the camera around and focused on the shooter. Once the firing was complete, Mark interviewed each of the shooters.

It was a great day that would not have been made possible without the commitment of the Indiana State Rifle and Pistol Association. Bill Thomas and Kevin Powell made sure we had what we needed to make the day a success.

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