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I Can See Again!

It has been a busy year and we are already scheduling for 2023. If you would like us to come to your club, let us know so we can call and get them on the books.

It has been a roller coaster ride for me and my eye issues. This goes back to 2018 when my eye doctor said I was developing a cataract. He said we would watch it until it got too bad and to wait until the right eye developed one also. In 2019, the right eye began to form a small cataract, but it wasn’t bad enough to do anything about it. But by late 2019, it was getting worse. Then COVID hit and there were no doctor’s appointments.

By April 2020, I knew I couldn’t see anything. When I drove, I had to watch the right line on the road as I couldn’t see the yellow one. It got so bad that Gil finally said, “You must go to the eye doctor. Your depth perception is awful and you can’t see.” I agreed and called to schedule an appointment with all the right words to get the appointment, such as “I can’t do my job” and “I can’t drive.” So, finally, I got to see the doctor, and yes, the cataracts in both eyes were bad enough to do the surgery.

We had to wait a few weeks, as I couldn’t travel for four weeks after both surgeries. Both eyes got done and I could see great for 10 months. Then I noticed a black spot in the middle of my left eye, the eye with the worst cataract. So, back to the eye doctor, then the retina doctor who came back with the news that I had developed a macular hole. Repairing it would require surgery and then keeping your head looking down for three days.

We scheduled the surgery but had to wait six weeks because we were traveling. After going back to see the retina doctor to see if anything had changed, he said the hole was half the size it was when I was in there six weeks ago. He asked if I wanted to go ahead with the surgery or wait and see what the hole did. I voted for “wait” and I’m so glad I did.

When I went back six weeks later, the hole had filled in, but the gel around the eye had not healed, so there was a round black circle in the middle of my left eye.

I say all that to say this: the experience has taken a toll on my shooting big time. I still shot Nationals in 2021, but it was not pretty. Targets I knew I could break didn’t. Just as I would go to shoot the hole got in the way and the target disappeared. It has been really frustrating!

This is the point where I could have said, “I quit. I can’t see. This is awful.” But I didn’t. I was dropped in class from AA to D and couldn’t compete there. I hated having Doss or Brian shooting behind me because I knew it wouldn’t be pretty. I tried to stay up with others who I have shot with for years, but that was not going to happen.

I could have said “I’ve had it. This is so embarrassing.” But that’s really not in my DNA. I suffered through it and came off each stand with a smile. A guy we had not met before who was squadded with us even told me, “I have never seen someone miss so many targets and come off with a smile.”

I never said I was going to quit. The only thing I did quit was demonstrating shots in our clinics – because I never hit them. Instead, I found clever ways to describe how the shot would come together and what the sight picture was without firing a shot. I was determined to stick with what has always been my plan for this game: to stay with the process. This is a game I love and won’t let it get me down. I will work through it.

We were at The Homestead last month and we went out with the trappers and manager of the shooting center to see if their layout was a good match for our clinics. Gil shot with them, and I watched since I had not really shot in three years.

The next day was Monday and we were going to go out and shoot and I would shoot with them.

I was excited and anxious, as it had been a long time since I had shot around others. After the first stand, I turned around to Gil and said, “I saw it coming together for the first time in years!” I had a huge smile on my face and was so relieved that I would again be able to play this game that I love.

The guys we were shooting with didn’t understand exactly what was going on until we told them. Then they would begin to fist-bump every time someone came off the stand. Fist-bumping at 70 years old was a sight to see… but I didn’t care. I was so happy to finally be able to see!

Through all this, I learned to be a better person and persevere through the humiliation and hurt of performing so poorly and be the person I wanted to be — upbeat and not letting the misses get to me.

Anyone can be great when everything is going their way. But it’s how you react when it’s not going the way you want that you learn to be strong. Having gone through this ordeal for the past three years has made me stronger and very resolute about how nothing will get me down. I have been out for three years but I’m glad to be back and I feel stronger for having to deal with all this.