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PostPosted: Fri Dec 15, 2017 10:52 am 

Joined: Mon Jun 02, 2014 11:27 am
Posts: 186
Lones Wigger: Legend Lost

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado (December 14, 2017)
Lones Wigger: Legend Lost


“We can say with great assurance that he didn’t make a dime over his 20 years of practicing tens of thousands of hours of shooting. He didn’t do it for the money. He did it – as the ancient Greeks did – for the glory of sport.” - Dr. John Lucas, Ph.D., an Olympic historian on Lones Wigger’s induction to the Olympic Hall of Fame in 2008.

Ret. Army Lt. Col. Lones W. Wigger, a four-time Olympian and the most decorated shooter in the world, passed away on the evening of December 14, 2017 at his home in Colorado Springs, Colorado of complications from pancreatic cancer. He was 80 years old.

During his induction to the Olympic Hall of Fame in 2008, Wigger’s daughter and 1983 Pan American Games teammate, Deena, said her father “has paid more back to the sport of shooting than he ever got out of it.” Wigger’s illustrious international shooting career spanned 25 years and saw him winning 111 medals and setting 29 world records, along with winning two Olympic gold medals and one silver.

Wigger’s mark on the sport reaches far beyond his international shooting career. After a distinguished 26-year career in the U.S. Army, Wigger retired in 1987 and went to work for the NRA as the Director of Training for the U.S. Shooting Team until retirement in 1994. Right up until his death, he was active in growing the National Junior Olympic Shooting Program, volunteering and organizing countless shooting matches, serving on the USA Shooting Board for various terms through 2016, even coming to work daily at the USA Shooting headquarters and managing the USA Shooting Alumni program.

“If you hear me speak about Lones, you will not hear me use Lones or Wig, you will hear me call him ‘Wiggles,’” said 2012 Olympic champion Jamie Corkish. “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. What a true champion, mentor, friend and legend.”

“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,” said two-time Olympic medalist and 1972 Olympic teammate Lanny Bassham.

In honor of his achievements and in celebration of his 80th birthday on August 25, USA Shooting renamed the interior of its headquarters and upper range the Lones Wigger Legacy Hall and Range. Wigger also wanted his legacy to also benefit young shooters and the Lones Wigger/USAS Jr. Olympic Endowment was established to grow youth shooting programs. To date, more than $225,000 has been raised and will impact junior shooting for years to come.

“Everyone here knows what it takes to be a champion or a success in life,” Wigger told the more than 300 attendees at that dedication ceremony. During the 30 minutes he spoke, he honored his family, teammates, friends and coaches for 25 of them. He only credited himself with his drive to train hard. “There are no secrets. It takes hours and hours of hard work, commitment, dedication, sacrifice and desire. Maybe desire is the most important. Everyone can be a winner. It just depends on how bad you want it. Never forget to dream. Dreams can and do come true.”

Wigger started shooting in his childhood home of Carter, Montana where his father, Lones, Sr. ran the local rifle range. A lifelong baseball fan, no youth baseball programs existed in the area, but young Lones wanted to be competitive and picked up his first rifle. As only Wigger could say in his trademark, cut-and-dry kind of way, “I just got started and I made it up.”

“[My father] would have to come in at night and pull me off the firing line, say we’re closing the range tonight and that we’re going home, otherwise I’d practice all night long,” he said. “I really took to it, and it was fun and I enjoyed it.”

From there, Wigger always wanted to shoot with the best. He went on to Montana State University where he earned a degree in Agronomy, as well as All-American Honors for three years. He later entered the Army in 1960, then commissioned to the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit. He would later also serve two tours in Vietnam.

“The Army and the Army Marksmanship Unit gave me the opportunity to train, compete and the support you couldn’t get anywhere else and I’m thankful for that,” Wigger said. “That allowed me to become the best I could be. Shooting is not a sport you can shoot on weekends and win – it’s full time. It’s a full-time effort. You’ve got to work hard, have desire, to do what’s necessary to get there, and it’s hard work. There are not many who have the fortitude to do the hard work necessary to excel.”

Wigger became the only athlete to win medals in all three Olympic rifle shooting disciplines and was selected as one of the U.S. Olympic Committee’s 100 Golden Olympians in 1996.

Wigger is survived by his wife of 59 years, Mary Kay, his two sons Ron and Danny, daughter Deena, son-in-law Tom, as well as two grandchildren.

Funeral and memorial services will be announced. In lieu of flowers, the family has requested donations to the Lones Wigger/USAS Jr. Olympic Endowment.

View pictures from the Lones Wigger Legacy Hall & Range Dedication

Listen to Lones Wigger’s last public speech given on his 80th Birthday

PostPosted: Fri Dec 15, 2017 10:56 am 

Joined: Sat Aug 28, 2004 12:23 am
Posts: 273
Location: Colorado
We are diminished.

Hard to imagine anyone who has given back more to the sport.

I was fortunate enough to work with him for many World Cups. We would work the airport together along with Gail Shetler, Robert Abbott, Mary Kay and others. We would meet and greet the athletes from all over the world. They always looked for Lones. He was easy to spot. The rest of us would be holding signs of USA Shooting World Cup, but they wouldn't see us. They could only see Lones or Mary Kay.

He was an amazing example to many of us.

PostPosted: Fri Dec 15, 2017 12:12 pm 

Joined: Mon Nov 29, 2004 2:49 pm
Posts: 2360
Location: Valencia County 4-H, NM USA
A Toast to a great one!

My daughter just texted me and I was just not expecting the sense of loss I feel.
He did so much for the sport and for the juniors.

We need to keep his memory fresh in our sport ... not many like him at all.
I'm reminded of JOs just a few short years ago ... one of the younger shooters wondered why the "earplug man" was awarding the medals.
It was nice to see one of her coaches take her over to the display case & show her.

PostPosted: Fri Dec 15, 2017 8:22 pm 

Joined: Tue Apr 23, 2013 5:50 pm
Posts: 243
Location: Wisconsin

PostPosted: Sat Dec 16, 2017 4:06 am 

Joined: Sat Dec 16, 2017 3:42 am
Posts: 2
Thank you very much for his story. It's really a follow up page.

PostPosted: Sat Dec 16, 2017 10:29 am 

Joined: Sun Apr 17, 2005 10:30 am
Posts: 166
Location: Rhode Island
Lones Wigger
August 25, 1937- December 14, 2017

When Theodore Roosevelt passed away in early 1919 it fell upon his son Archie to inform his brothers who were serving with the Army of Occupation in Germany. He cable was short, simple, and eloquent, “The Old Lion is dead.” We may say the same at the passing of Lones Wesley Wigger, Jr.

No one cast a larger shadow on the international and national competitive shooting scene in the latter half of the 20th Century than Wigger. In a career that spanned 25 years he was selected to four U.S. Olympic Teams. He won two Golds and one Silver, the only athlete to ever medal in all three Olympic rifle events, smallbore prone, smallbore position and 300-meter position competition.

During his international shooting career, Wigger won 65 Gold, 38 Silver and eight Bronze medals, an astonishing 111 medals, while setting 29 world records; two accomplishments that are, and will likely remain, unmatched.

Elected to the US Olympic Hall of Fame, the only shooting athlete to be so honored, he was also named by the USOC as a “Golden Olympian.” He is also a member of the USA Shooting and U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit Halls of Fame

Wigger began shooting in Carter Montana under his father’s tutelage. He then attended Montana State College where he was a four-time All-American. A member of the Army Reserve Officer Training Corps he was commissioned upon graduation and headed off to Fort Benning, Infantry Officer Basic School, the Army Marksmanship Unit, and international fame.

He burst upon the shooting scene at the 1964 Olympics with a silver medal in the English Match, losing Gold on a tie breaker, followed by a record shattering Gold medal performance in the smallbore position event. Eight years later he would take home another Gold, this time for 300-meter position shooting.

Excepting two tours in Viet Nam, the first as an agricultural advisor and the second as officer in charge of the 23rd Infantry Division Sniper School, he spent his career assigned to the US Army Marksmanship Unit. It worthy of note is that during his two tours in Southeast Asia the competitive Wigger used his precious leave to return to the United States to compete at Camp Perry and the 1971 Pan American Game tryouts.

During his 1967 tour he made it to Perry to earn a spot on the Dewar Team, finished fourth in the position aggregate, and earned his final ‘step’ for NRA Smallbore Position Rifle Distinguished Award. Four years later he used his leave for the Pan American Games tryouts. He was called back home to compete in the games where he won a silver in prone. Wigger then hopped a flight to the US and drove cross country to Camp Perry where he won the position championship for a record sixth time after which he returned to the war zone.

Domestically Wigger won 56 National indoor and outdoor titles, his most outstanding achievement being 21 Outdoor Smallbore Rifle Position Championships between 1963 and 1991, which included a run of nine consecutive Parsons Trophies between 1976 and 1984. Add to that eight Outdoor Smallbore Rifle Prone Championships and the fact that he won both championships in 1963 and 1973 and you have an impressive resume. Wigger also compiled countless National Records, 29 appearances on the US Dewar Team, six Pershing Teams, four Roberts Teams, and one Wakefield Team.

In a life full of great shooting accomplishments, it might seem odd that the prize he held dearest was not a win. When the anysight team scores at the 2013 NRA National Smallbore Rifle Prone Championship were posted they revealed that the Stinkniks’ “Team Wigger” had shot a 1600-133X, good for second place, just 13 Xs behind Wigger’s old team, the US Army Marksmanship Unit. When “Team Wigger” was called to the stage Lones, Ron, Deena, and Danny Wigger, coached by Mary Kay Wigger, stood side by side, the only time in memory that a team of father, mother and three siblings placed in a national championship event.

During the 1987 Interservice International Rifle Championship competitors took a break from the action for a night of celebration to honor of Wigger on his retirement from the Army. Dieter Anschütz, president of the eponymously named rifle company, was a guest and presented Wigger, his most famous customer, with a gold plated Anschütz Model 1813 rifle. Wigger generously donated the rifle to the National Rifle Association, to be used as a trophy, in 2013. Named the Lones Wigger Iron Man Award, it is presented to the competitor with the highest aggregate of the NRA’s four national outdoor smallbore rifle championships: metric and conventional prone and three position.

It takes hard work to win the 12-day grind that is the Iron Man, but to work hard was Wigger’s way. He freely admitted that he was not a naturally gifted rifle but he had observed that the shooters who were winning were winning because they were working hard. A fierce competitor, he vowed that no one would ever outwork him saying that, “The will to win is really better stated as the will to prepare to win. In shooting, it's persistence that pays the biggest dividends—constant, steady practice, week in and week out, all year long. I truly believe that anyone can be a champion marksman if they work at it long and hard enough."

The two Old Lions, men who received the highest prizes of their chosen professions, Nobel Peace Laureate Teddy Roosevelt and Olympic Gold Medalist Lones Wigger, saw the road to success through the same lens, best stated by Roosevelt who wrote, “Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.”

PostPosted: Sat Dec 16, 2017 4:50 pm 

Joined: Sun Mar 13, 2011 3:00 pm
Posts: 303
Location: Louisville,TN
Well I know one thing for sure, who ever has been winning all the rifle matches in heaven has won there last match. Lones was the most genuine man I ever meet in my life and it was my gain to have called him friend for the last 47 years. Thanks for the memories Wig.


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