The Great Equalizer

posted on July 30, 2014

Fourteen-year-old Lee Wills is currently in sixth place in 3-Gun Nation’s Junior Division, but he has no plans to shoot the remaining two qualifiers, even though a move up to fifth place would qualify him for a shoot-off that could punch his ticket onto the Pro Tour. He would like to, but he has his 14th surgery scheduled—an altogether-too-familiar routine that began when he was four months old.

Wills was born with spare digits and fused fingers and thumbs. I’d give you all the details, but here’s a great 4-minute video with the information and the youngster shooting from one of the best reporters in the industry.

He was behind the trigger of .22 LRs at the age of four, according to his mother, Karla Wills. By nine, he was shooting USPSA, a discipline in which he still competes. He got into IDPA from 11 to 12 years old and has now taken up 3-gun. He prefers people use the term “adaptive shooter” to describe the challenges he has overcome and, considering his marksmanship skills, the label fits. He doesn’t give up.

It’s not without hurdles to overcome, though, even after 13 surgeries. “My left hand in 3-gun is my biggest challenge,” Lee said. “It is harder for me to speed load a shotgun like others can. I have my thumb, which I can’t move at all, and the way my hand is causes me problems, so I have to work at it more.”

When Lee saw his older brother become a two-time ICORE junior champion, he caught the bug. His mother and father, a retired Army Lieutenant Colonel, encouraged his efforts, and there have been some unexpected side benefits. “…[T]he shooting sports have been therapeutic for Lee,” Karla said. “Before, if Lee’s hands were mentioned he would cringe and shove them in his pockets. Now it’s not a big deal.”

Col. Bachelor, head of Orthopedics at Fort Belvoir, Va., has taken a sincere interest in Lee and will perform the upcoming surgery. “He is going to fix the part of my hand between my thumb and forefinger so I can load much easier,” Lee said, calling the doctor’s efforts nothing short of magic.

I don’t know about you, but I think Lee’s performance on the firing line is mystical in its own right. And, when he’s back next year, he’ll be making a serious run for the 3-Gun Nation Junior title and a spot on the Pro Tour.




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