Honored American Veterans Afield (HAVA) and The Independence Fund recently partnered to host a precision long-range .22-cal. shooting event at the Andover Sportsman’s Club in Andover, Conn. Veterans from the Army, Army National Guard, Navy and Marine Corps participated in the three days of training and target shooting during the event.
“We had the opportunity to bring some local veterans to southeastern Connecticut to learn about .22-cal. long-range precision rifle shooting under the watchful eye of great coaches and volunteers,” said Phil Limauge, The Independence Fund’s Mobility Program manager. “The veterans learned a ton about the sport from some of the top shooters in the area. One of the best parts of the weekend was a getting to see Veterans back in their element—on the range with other veterans. We’re very thankful for everyone who helped put on the event and could not have done it without them.”
Guardians of the Purple Heart (GOTPH), a Connecticut group that focuses on Purple Heart recipients in the state, was instrumental in bringing veterans to this event. Doug Capazzi, President of GOTPH, said “We work to provide a support system that many veterans need while they are either in transition or at other points in their life.”
The first evening began with an introduction to and history of .22-cal. precision shooting. Range sessions started the next morning with a safety briefing, one-on-one sessions with expert instructors and plenty of practice. The final day paired each veteran with a skilled mentor to participate in a shooting match hosted by East Glastonbury Fish and Game Association.
Jacob Schlauder, a combat-decorated Navy Fleet Marine Force Hospital Corpsman, said of the event “…it’s a good group of guys who get each other, who understand veterans. Thank you for everything.” While serving with the Marines, Jacob experienced both direct and indirect contact with enemy forces on numerous occasions. It was in Afghanistan where he suffered multiple injuries that ultimately led to his medical retirement from the Navy.
“HAVA met six great Americans at this event,” said Tom Taylor, HAVA chairman. “We chose to tell Jacob’s remarkable story in this article, but the other five veterans have great stories, as well. Every veteran’s story is special and important, but there are definitely two common threads that connect them all together—service and sacrifice. Our veterans have sacrificed and so many have paid a severe price for serving. With that in mind, HAVA will continue to adapt and flex our events, so we can continue serving veterans, through COVD-19 and whatever challenges the future might hold.”
“HAVA is very fortunate to have many sustaining sponsors, three of whom—Ruger, Glock and Smith and Wesson—provided direct support this weekend,” said HAVA Event Manager Chris Fleming. “Additionally, all the volunteers, instructors and coaches who spent time with each veteran, the Andover Sportsman’s Club for use of their facilities, Vudoo Gun Works, Academi, East Glastonberry Fish and Game, Newington Gun Exchange, BJZ Cycles, Gano’s Power Equipment, Kahn’s Tractor Supply, 2 Brothers Restaurant, and Fireside Brick Oven all made this a great event for our veterans. To all of you, our sincerest thanks for making this a huge success.”
HAVA is a 501(c)3 organization formed by companies in the shooting and outdoor industry with the purpose of raising awareness and further assisting disabled veterans with their healing process through guided hunts, shooting events and other outdoor sports activities.