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Sunday, September 15, 2013

Blackhawks, Veterans and 1/2 MOA

Jeff was a stand up guy. 8 years in the military with a current assignment as the Crew Chief on a DAP (Direct Action Penetrator) Blackhawk helicopter. Think about 30mm guns that shoot bullets the size of beer bottles and a mini-gun that shoots .308's at 6,000 rounds per minute. Today, he was volunteering to help out at a Family Day Shooting event near Ft. Campbell, KY for veterans and their families. He was assigned to the Kodabow Crossbow Shooting Station. Jeff reported for duty --- he was there to get the job done. Later that day, he would relate that when he first showed up, he was thinking that crossbows were kind of "dorky." I could tell Jeff might have preferred a different station like handguns or the AR-15 range. He was a trooper nevertheless and agreed to blow up ballons and help me help veterans and their families launch arrows downrange. After the first 150 or so ballons, Jeff had a whole different view of crossbows and I had a re-energized respect for our active duty and retired veterans who serve our country.
What follows is the absolute unvarnished truth.
The balloons were out at 35 yards. Shooter after shooter never missed. Wives of soldiers never missed. 12 year old daughters never missed. Whole families that shot together never missed. Active duty and retired types never missed. As each shooter selected a different color ballon and called the shot, there was often applause from the crowds with each shot. Jeff was coming around. By 1400 (2 PM military time), Jeff had a big change of heart about crossbows and said "that Kodabow is a fine piece of equipment."   He was so pleased to be part of what was happening.
This was the group that organized the event!
We kept shooting and he kept blowing up balloons and arrows kept bursting them at a frantic pace. Attendance was about 150 veterans and with family members, the total group was several hundred. Along the way, Jeff and I shared stories. He had a few deployments under his belt. I could tell he did his job well. A Blackhawk pilot, Charlie, showed up along with other members of his group. These guys did special ops missions and I sensed that the troops on the ground appreciated the skills and professionalism of these men and their attitudes. Their Blackhawk provides cover support for our troops for as long as 3 hours on station. As the balloons kept bursting all afternoon, Jeff simply said, "you are hammering that crossbow hard --- and it just keeps on going ---- and nobody misses --- it is simply amazing." Mutual respect -- I respected his helicopter and his work and he had a growing respect for Kodabow.
Volunteers like Jeff and companies like Ruger and Smith & Wesson plus many others make events like this happen. Trevor Baucom in his wheelchair (helicopter pilot) was the local inspiration behind this HAVA event. This was the morning volunteer briefing.
That's me with my red HAVA hat helping a veteran get his sight picture.
Naturally, he made the shot.
The day progressed. There was lunch and dinner. We shot all afternoon long. Prior to the event, a Kodabow customer called Kodabow and learned that we would be in TN and asked if he could assist and perhaps bring his new Kodabow up to get fully checked out. I said "please come, bring your Kodabow and help out!"  Tom joined Jeff, the helo crew Chief and was tasked with balloon work and arrow retrieval as well.
Tom had received his Kodabow a few days earlier but had never fired it. He assembled it out of the box and set it on the shooting table after the last veteran headed to the steak dinner under the tent. 
The next sequence of events was extraordinary.
Tom's first shot at 35 yards was dead on the money. Perfect.
After shooting hundreds of arrows all day long, I was ready for a change and moved the target to 50 yards. Tom settled in behind his Kodabow and squeezed off the 2nd shot from the crossbow. X ring.
Bullseye at 50 yards!
Shot #3 was next. 50 yards. Bullseye. 1/8 of an inch from the first shot.
This was 1/2 MOA (Minute of Angle) performance from a crossbow that had just been assembled without the new owner ever making a scope adjustment.
Tom was amazed. Jeff was now shaking his head. I told the men that actually, at Kodabow, we are not surpised by this type of thing --- but we are always impressed with their accuracy and often have a sense of wonder about how these bows shoot.
It was a tremendous day.
Shooting with out troops is a terrific experience. These events give our service folks the opportunity to share with their families the types of things they do routinely. A spouse may have never fired a firearm before but now has an appreciation for the difficult work our warriors do. (Times have changed - the typical military command wouldn't allow this type of event to occur on the military base so support groups like HAVA help out in many ways. They arrange hunts especially for those with serious injuries and organize different types of outings.) It is a remarkably positive experience. The daughters and sons of these military families are polite and respectful. They say "Thank you Sir." The veterans are respectful and very appreciative. They shoulder a Kodabow like they have been shooting one for years and place their finger alongside the trigger, gain a sight picture, and squeeze off a shot. They are professional and always say "Thank you" too.
I spoke with Jeff and a few of his buddies Saturday evening and shared a beer. Their backgrounds are rich and their attitudes are exceptional. They have done many things and are well trained. One had taught at the Sniper School at Ft. Benning. Another enlisted and progressed from enlisted to officer. They were like the many veterans that we spoke with during the event. The very, very best that this country has to offer.
Thank you for your service!
CDR Chuck Matasic - USN (Ret)

P.S. (The names of the active duty personnel were changed --- Jeff - you know who you are my friend!)






3 comments:

  1. I drove past that sign several times, last weekend, running errands. Wish I had gotten curious enough to check it out! Learning my Koda-Express. I have a question concerning the safety that I could have asked. Oh well -- glad you were there for the military families.

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