Every now and then I run across somebody doing something extraordinary. Someone serving others without being asked, and at personnel expense in time, energy, money, or all of the above. This is the case for Dave Winters and the whole team at Black Dagger Military Hunt Club, Inc.
This is a story of sacrifice. First and foremost, those that shoot and hunt with Black Dagger have given much. They are veterans. Most have been wounded in combat. Many of them have been wounded severely.
Dave Winters founded Black Dagger Military Hunt Club (MHC). Dave is himself a 20-year Air Force veteran and is currently a government civilian. Dave’s son-in-law was a wounded in combat and now assists others with PTSD. As you can see, Mr Winters has good reasons to care about those who have paid a high price for freedom.
It all started when coworker and double amputee Lt. Brian Brennan asked Dave if he could help him get a good deal on an AR-15 so he could shoot and hunt again. Several organizations including Spikes Tactical, Adams Arms and Crimson Trace contributed to building Lt. Brennan’s gun. When it was all said and done, Lt. Brennan was told that he “had already paid the price” for the gun and was not charged for it. Since then Black Dagger has grown to serve dozens of vets each year through the James A. Haley Veterans Hospital’s Adaptive Sports Program in Tampa, Florida.
Cpl. Michael Jernigan’s experience is a recent example of what Black Dagger does through their adaptive shooting program is found in.
Jernigan, was the most severely wounded survivor of an IED attack on his convoy in Iraq. He lost both eyes, his right hand and left knee were mangled, an artery in his left leg was torn open, and his forehead was shattered. Jernigan has been featured in newspaper articles, countless blogs and has even been feature on HBO’s “Alive Day Memories”.
Black Dagger and Cpl. Jernigan connected through a shared an interest. Jernigan works with Southeast Guide Dogs driving publicity and raising funds among other things. His focus area is with Paws for Patriots, which provides guide dogs for veterans.
Black Dagger happened to be donating some proceeds from a fundraiser to Paws for Patriots. When Dave learned that Cpl. Jernigan wondered if he could hunt again, he knew there was a way. Using the iScope adapter and app marketed by Jeff Foxworthy, and the help of a Black Dagger teammate, Cpl. Jernigan took down a wild hog. Michael aimed the gun, while his “spotter” guided him by looking at the iPhone screen attached to the scope and guided Cpl. Jernigan onto the target hog. Once the shot was set up, the verbal cue was given and Cpl. Jernigan pulled the trigger. A textbook shot that resulted in a “Dead Right There” pig. This was a victory for all involved, including Cpl. Jernigan’s son Caleb who also took down a pig for the first time! Congratulations Cpl. Jernigan and Caleb!
Black Dagger MHC, through the VA, helps a wide range of veterans get out shooting and hunting. From active duty personnel, to quadriplegic disabled vets. From WW2, Korea, and Vietnam vets to veterans of today’s conflicts, Dave Winters and his partners serve them all.
What do Dave and his teammates at Black Dagger get out of it? They simply consider it a privilege to serve in this capacity. No one on the Black Dagger staff draws a salary. They even spend their own money at times. Their reward is knowing they have done something of value for someone who has no means to pay them back. They have added value to the lives of our veterans by helping them heal and do something many thought they would never be able to do again.
One question that gets asked regularly is “How can I help?” I asked the same question of Dave Winters. Dave is not in your face about donations. He didn’t even give me a straight answer when I asked how much money Black Dagger MHC needs to take things to the next level. The focus at Black Dagger is to make an impact that goes beyond Florida. Dave says they could use some ammo. Not surprising considering the recent ammunition power buying America has been doing. The number one thing Dave wants people to do is to spread the word about what Black Dagger does and the fact that disabled people across the nation can hunt and shoot. They just need the right tools.
When I asked how other disabled vets can participate in hunting and shooting in other locations, he said they should contact the local Veterans Administration and ask about any adaptive shooting sports programs. There are many throughout the country.
This is a cause that is close to my heart. If you have served our great nation in our military, thank you. If you have been wounded in that service, thank you all the more. If you have lost a loved one or care for a loved one wounded in combat, thank you. America is great in part because of the willingness of those who serve to pay an unimaginable price along with their families. If you want to make an impact on Black Dagger there are three things you can do. Share this article with others who care. Use the link below to make a donation; and contact Black Dagger MHC and send them some ammo!