The Black Dagger MHC organization traces its roots to 2010, according to founder and president Dave Winters. Dave has worked for many years at Special Operations Command and points out that he did so as an information technology manager, not a trigger puller. However, his work brought him into frequent contact with SOCOM operators. Dave was known to his colleagues as a shooter, and the day came when a double-amputee vet asked him, “Hey, can you get me back into shooting?” Dave and some friends went all out for the vet, even building him a custom AR-15. When he asked what he owed them for the rifle, Dave and his friends replied, “You’ve already paid more than enough.”
Part of the concept of Black Dagger can be described as “getting back on the horse that threw you.” The military is not called the “armed services” for nothing. For these men and women, the firearm is not only a tool of the trade, but a symbol of the profession they chose and suffered for. The request of that wounded vet who inspired the organization—“Hey, can you help me get back into shooting?”—is telling. To a person gravely wounded by enemy fire, mastering weapons is a confirmation of conquered fear. It shows both psychologically and symbolically that this individual has come to terms with the environment that caused their injury. It marks a victory on the road to recovery and a return to a productive life stateside. It is an exercise in renewed self-confidence and self-image.
GLOCK GIVES BACK:
Using with the producers’ permission, the Top Shot name and a modified logo, the November 2012 event relied heavily on sponsors to provide equipment. GLOCK stepped forward and furnished the handguns—GLOCK 17 pistols (Click Here to read a review on the Glock 17). The 9×19 ammunition to feed them was provided by Black Hills and RUAG. For a venue, the Hillsborough County, Florida, Sheriff’s Department offered up their Walter C. Heinrich Practical Training Site. The shooting stages ranged from balloon targets to the “Smoke on the Water” event, in which contestants had to shoot water bottles intermingled with bottles filled with chalk at 50 yards. Clay birds were “dusted” off sticks at varying distances during one stage.
Dave says the most challenging stage may have been the one titled “Know Your Limits.” “We called it that because they had to shoot at progressively smaller circles,” he explains. “It was up to the shooter to know when to stop, because while they accumulated points for hits, points were also subtracted for misses, which became more likely with the smaller targets.” This inaugural event drew 20 contestants and hundreds of cheering fans. Thirteen came from Veterans Affairs, including a Vietnam vet. Seven came from SOCOM. The vets were delighted to have the TV celebrities there with them, and the feeling was mutual. “Eric and Gabby loved being there,” Dave Winters told GLOCK Autopistols. “It’s humbling to be in the presence of American warfighters who gave so much for their nation and who ask for virtually nothing in return.”
BEYOND THE RANGE:
Much of Black Dagger’s mission is carried out in the hunting fields. “Our disabled personnel miss hunting as well as shooting,” says Winters. “Our adaptive sport program now even has us hunting with blind vets. We have an AR-15 with the iScope that Jeff Foxworthy is marketing. You drop in an Android or iPhone, which allows the hunting coach to watch their sight picture. Their coach tells them ‘higher’ or ‘lower’ to vector them in, and when they’re on target, tells them to take the shot. We had one blind vet who dropped a hog at 65 yards with his first shot. We have an apparatus that allows paralyzed shooters to use a joystick with their chin to move the gun on target and sip on a straw to fire it.”
Contributions are always welcome. “Our total donations were a little over $10,000 last year,” says Winters. “The positive part of our organization is that we are all volunteers, and over 97 percent of each dollar goes into our program.”
To make a donation or to learn more about the Black Dagger program, visit blackdaggermhc.org.
For more information on GLOCK firearms, visit: http://us.glock.com/