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Now is your chance to support the Lones Wigger Endowment & Legacy Project.  Join Colonel Wigger in creating a lasting legacy for the shooting sports and helping support a legacy endowment which will provide additional funding opportunities for USA Shooting to help grow youth programs and enhance grassroots development.  

Money raised will support the Lones Wigger/USAS Jr Olympic Endowment established in partnership with the MidwayUSA Foundation.  Additionally, the money will be used to create a lasting legacy in honor of Lones Wigger at the USA Shooting headquarters in Colorado Springs.  All donations to the Lones Wigger/USAS Jr Olympic Endowment made in 2017 will be matched by the MidwayUSA Foundation (with the generous donations from Larry and Brenda Potterfield) at a 2-to-1 ratio.

A five-time Olympian, Colonel Wigger is an iconic figure in the shooting sports and is the only USA Shooting Team member ever elected to the U.S. Olympic Committee’s Hall of Fame.  He has won more medals in international shooting competition (111) than any other shooting athlete in the world and is the only athlete to win medals in all three Olympic rifle shooting disciplines.  He was selected as one of the United States Olympic Committee’s 100 Golden Olympians in 1996 and carried the Olympic Torch in 1996 and 2002.  A member of four Halls of Fame, including the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame and U.S. International Shooting Hall of Fame, his international shooting career spanned 25 years (1961-1986). 



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Wigger Stories

 

Tributes

When it comes to this special man, I can’t keep it to only a few sentences. How can you do that when you’re talking about someone who you’ve always looked up to and are proud to call a friend? I guess the first thing I could say about Lones, something I’ve always admired and tried to emulate, is that he’s real. What I mean is he’s just a normal guy, perhaps a “man’s man.” He has such a great sense of humor, cares about people, helps people, is proud of what he’s done in shooting, but not full of himself at all.... Just a great guy. 

I have quite a few stories I could share about Wig, but here are a couple of my favorites: I remember the first time I met him. It was the Junior Olympic Championships at the OTC and I was 16 years old. I needed new earplugs and here was this guy making them. Ok, I’ll get some. I sat down, the man made the mixture and put it in my ears to cure. During that process, he handed me a little box/holder for the earplugs and told me to write my name on it. I saw his name there as the maker of the earplugs. I’d never met Wig before, but I’d heard of him, of course. I remember thinking, “holy crap! That’s Lones Wigger and he’s making me earplugs! Wow!” I was so surprised.    A couple years after Wig started his Firecracker 6400 prone match in Raton, NM, Katy and I went down to shoot it. I was lucky enough to shoot next to Wig and on the other side of him was one of his good old friends, Joe Farmer. Watching those two joke back and forth (sometimes while in position!) for 4 days was an absolute joy. Shooting with them was, too.     Another memory I have was way back from when I was in college. I think it might have been my freshman or sophomore year – can’t remember which. It doesn’t matter, but Wig came as the guest speaker at one of the banquets during the NCAA Championships. He gave a great speech, but one thing I remember in particular was when he described his work ethic and tenacity. He said he wasn’t the most talented shooter of his day (he shot with Gary Anderson, Jack Writer, Lanny Bassham, and Margaret Murdoch), but he was successful because he worked so hard and he wanted to do well so much. Hard work and smart work pays off. I’ll never forget that.      Years later, I was on the other end, so to speak. I was giving the keynote speech at NCAA Championships when they were in Colorado Springs. Wig and his wife, Mary Kay, were there. Afterward, they both came up to me and said how much they really liked it and wished someone had filmed it (they’ve told me that several times since then, too). Mary Kay told me it was the type of speech Wig would have given. Both of them saying those words were some of the nicest compliments I’ve ever received in my life. 

There’s one thing I’m still a bit sad about with Wig, though. Ever since Athens, he’s constantly told me I have to keep going and win 3x40 at the Olympics. I’m not the type of guy to say, “yes, I’ll go win it,” but rather I promise to give it everything I have (of course winning is my goal, but I think it’s cocky to promise someone you’ll win something). I still haven’t fulfilled his wish of winning it, but I can at least say I know I gave it everything I had the last two go-rounds in London and Rio. We’ll see if I can fulfill it in the future.

Lanny and Lones at the 1974 World Championships.How do you define ‘The Best Ever?’ Would you add up the total medals won to see who is on top? Would you add up the total number of years he has dominated his sport? Would you take a survey of everyone who has been his competitor, to determine who received the most votes? Would you look at the number of national and world records held? Not only is Wigger the only name at the top of these lists, no other shooter even comes close.

I am so fortunate to have been his teammate during the 70’s. Those were good years for USA rifle. We held all the world records, all the world titles, and Wig lead the way. Oh, some of us had short bursts of brilliance, winning a gold medal or two, but he was the base, the foundation that gave us those many team titles and records. Of all the champions I have faced, he was always the hardest to best.

Early in my career, I asked Wig for some advice on reading the wind. His answer was short and to the point, “Pull the trigger at the right time!” I learned how to read the wind by watching him shoot when we were on separate relays. He is still the master at knowing when to shoot. 

I first met Lones Wigger when I was a junior shooting Camp Perry (NRA Nationals). My junior coach knew the Wiggers, so I was lucky enough to meet them early in my career. I was amazed at their shooting family and how successful they all were, and Mary Kay is a saint to deal with all of those shooters! Lones was someone I wanted to be around at these matches. There was so much I could learn from him by simply listening to him talk about shooting. He was and still is such a fierce competitor, it was inspiring. Many times I tell people that I am one of the most competitive people they will ever meet, but Lones gives me a run for my money! 

If you hear me speak about Lones, you will not hear me use Lones or Wig, you will hear me call him Wiggles. At a Blackhawk dinner one year, at Camp Perry, Wiggles introduced me as James, which is what you would typically hear him call me, so I wrote a new name tag up for him that said “Wiggles” and meticulously gave him a hug and put the name tag on top of the “Wig” tag he had so everyone started saying Wiggles to him. We had a great laugh about it and the name stuck and he will forever be known as Wiggles to me.

There is no one that is more deserving to be recognized in the sport of shooting. Wiggles is a true legend, he not only was an amazing shooter in his Olympic career, but he continued to win long after his International retirement. It still amazes me to watch this guy lay down and shoot the scores he does, what a true champion, mentor, friend, and legend. 

Launi Meili, Two-time Olympian & 1992 Olympic Champion 

Lones Wigger was the first Olympic gold medalist I ever met.  As a junior going to Fort Benning for my first shooting camp, it was just amazing to me that he spent time with all of us “beginner” shooters, and was willing to get down in the dirt and work on the basics.  A fellow participant shot a 99 kneeling in one of our practices. While the shooter was pretty excited about that score, Wig says “Dang it, if you can shoot nine 10s, you can shoot ten 10s.”  I never forgot that.  It took a long time before I shot a 100 in kneeling or standing, but when I did, I could hear Wig in my head with “well of course you can shoot ten 10s, don’t sell yourself short. Now shoot 10 more! 

Mike Anti, Four-time Olympian & 2004 Olympic Silver Medalist

Col. Wigger has been a huge influence in my shooting career, right from the very start. I meet Col. Wigger when I was a junior shooter at the NRA National Championships in Camp Perry, one of the many years that he won the match.  I remember thinking that I wanted to be as good as he is some day.  I have always carried the utmost respect for him as an athlete and a person, and am proud to consider him my friend.  

I also have to give credit to Col. Wigger for helping me win a silver medal at the 2004 Olympic Games.  I had already competed in two Olympics with limited success (no medals).  I always felt that what I lacked was the mental game to get me on the Olympic podium.  About two months prior to the Olympic Team going to Athens, Col Wigger had a talk with the rifle team members at the Olympic Training Center.   The bottom line he said  “you cannot back door” the Olympic Games.  In other words, do not think you can just be anonymous at the Games and expect to win.  You have to go there thinking you are going to win and the person to beat.  He said, "in order to get there mentally you have to think about it (the Olympics) every chance you get."  He talked about the process he used to win.  He said that in the beginning (two months out), he just thought about being at the Olympics. And when he felt mentally comfortable with that he would ratchet it up a bit by thinking about being on the firing line at the Olympics. Again, once he was comfortable with that, he would bring it to another level.  This time he would mentally think about shooting the best match of his life at the Olympics. Again, this type of thinking would cause his heart rate to spike, but over time he would feel more comfortable with this thought.  And then finally, the thought of actually winning gold!  

I really took to heart what Col. Wigger had to say because I knew that was a weakness in my game. My teammate (Hattie Johnson) and I did exactly what he said to do, in fact during the day we would ask each other 'are you thinking about the Olympics.'  She did not win a medal, but did shoot the highest score she had ever fired in an international event, an outstanding performance, and I was able to secure the silver medal.  

Bob Foth, Two-time Olympian & 1992 Olympic Silver Medalist 

It was either the 1986 or 1987 National Championships and Dan Durben and I were training as the only two male resident athletes, and Bob Mitchell wanted us to have the chance to shoot as a three-person team at Nationals.  He enlisted Wig, who was not really training at that time, to be our third man.  Overcome with self-confidence, Dan and I assured him not to worry, that we were both trained up and would carry him with any reasonable score on his part.  

Of course, anyone who knows Wig probably knows the outcome already. He fired a very strong score, beating both Dan and I and dragging our sorry carcasses along to a team medal. 

I don’t know if he even remembers that, but I learned that lesson the first time and will never repeat that mistake again.  Wig is the World’s Greatest Competitor no matter what the contest is and I’ll never forget that fact!

Wanda Jewell, Two-time Olympian & 1984 Olympic Bronze Medalist

When I first entered the Army Marksmanship Unit way back in 1977, Wig was my boss.  I came from a collegiate program and was used to a four-month shooting season schedule, but Wig soon showed me how to really train to be world-class – Wigger style.  

In the winter, he would set up a training trip in the United States.  We would fly out Thursday, land in Chicago then spend three days shooting three matches a day in three different cities.  We would shoot 100-shot standing matches starting at 10:00 pm, would drive to another city to shoot a 3x40 match starting at 8:00 am, drive to another city for an afternoon 3x40 match.   

In the spring and summer, he would set up training trips in Europe with the same kind of schedule.  This type of training trip accomplished the intensity portion of any training plan.  Plus, since we were always competing against either the top U.S. shooters (athletes) or members of the National Team from other countries, every round meant something.  There was no wasted time or lazy training days during his trips.  It taught me how to stay focused during training and I’m sure that these trips laid down the strong base necessary to build to the successes I had.  

Bob Hunnicutt, Former NRA Public Relations Manager

I was a PR man for the NRA in the late 70s and had occasion to be with him at events from the silhouette matches to Camp Perry to the Pan American Games, and got to know him, Mary Kay and the children well.

An incident from the 42nd World Shooting Championships in 1978 sums up how it was. A bunch of us were on a bus from the range to the shooters' village (in those days, the press bunked with the athletes). I was sitting with the likes of Boyd Goldsby, Karen Monez, Matt Dryke, Dan Carlisle, Ruby Fox, Don Hamilton, etc. and we were waiting for Wigger to arrive before we could pull out. 

After a while, we saw him ambling along and voices rang out urging him to speed it up. He gave a wave and a big grin, then got into a limousine with a four-star Korean general. 

"That," someone said, "is the difference between him and us." 

There were actually many differences, but that definitely was one.

Cindy Stinger, 3-Time Olympian in Handball & USOC Olympic/Paralympic Alumni Manager

Lones is bigger than life, achieving one incredible accomplishment after the other. As grand as his achievements, his character and humility are what we all love and adore. Helping the youth in the sport he loves with this endowment, well, no big surprise there!

Donations

All donation amounts will be accepted for the Lones Wigger Endowment & Legacy Project and a special Lones Wigger pin is being created to provide to donors at all levels.  Additionally, six primary donation levels have been established with donors contributing at those designated levels set to receive authentic donor premiums showcasing Lones Wigger's career accomplishments. Donor premiums can be used to further the conversation with others about Wigger's legendary career and further supporting the project. Donor premiums are currently being created and will be unveiled in a pending announcement. 

Donation Levels  

  • World Record:                   $10,000
  • World Champion:             $5,000                   
  • National Champion:        $2,500                   
  • Gold Medal:                       $1,000                   
  • Silver Medal:                      $500                       
  • Bronze Medal:                   $250

 

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USA Shooting
Attn: Lones Wigger Endowment
1 Olympic Plaza
Colorado Springs, CO 80909

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