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TAG YOU'RE IT – Get to know Paralympic Pistol Shooter Mike Tagliapietra

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado (August 31, 2016)

Photo courtesy of DeWitt Photos.Proud Wisconsin native Mike Tagliapietra admits that it was a long list of “can’t dos” following a 2003 car accident in which he was thrown from his vehicle resulting in fractures to his T5 & T6 vertebrae. 

It wasn’t until he began volunteering at Milwaukee’s renowned Froedtert Hospital mentoring injured spinal cord patients did he find the strength and self-confidence needed to move on from his own accident. “It was a life-changing challenge,” he admitted during an NRA interview in 2014. “The people I mentored, it helped them, but it really helped me too. It helped me with my own healing process.”

Tagliapietra first started shooting in 1992 for the Fond du Lac pistol team and credits his former boss for getting him involved in the sport. 

In the eight years following his accident, Tagliapietra didn't touch a firearm.

From 2009-2012, he competed in more than 30 road races (marathons/triathlons) using a hand cycle or racing chair.  Realizing he was not going to be a Paralympian in these sports, Tagliapietra discovered Paralympic shooting through the Phoenix Rod and Gun Club.  He was immediately taken in by USA Shooting athletes and famous alums including John Zurek, Brenda Silva and Ruby Fox.  After six months of frustration trying to learn to shoot Air Pistol, he took a trip to Colorado to get away.  During that trip, he called Paralympic National Team Coach Bob Foth who talked him into committing full-time to the sport and becoming a resident athlete at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. 

“Shooting brought a completely different challenge,” said Tagliapietra during that same 2014 NRA interview. “It’s not as much a physical challenge as a mental challenge.  I say to my friends that I’d rather go push a 26.2 miles than shoot a 60-shot match sometimes. It’s just mentally draining.”

His 2014 and 2015 success in the sport led him to being named USA Shooting's Paralympic Athlete of the Year each of the last two seasons.  

As he approaches Rio, he’s been working on some very fine mechanical issues while trying to hone his mental approach and being able to stay focused throughout the entire match. 

As far as being a member of Team USA he says: “There’s a tremendous sense of pride and accomplishment, just to be named to the Team.  I’m a pretty lucky guy to even be here.” 

Mike will shoot three events in Rio. He begins with Air Pistol on Friday, September 9. He shoots his marquee event, Sport Pistol, on Sunday, September 11, and concludes with the Free Pistol event on Wednesday, September 14. 

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