The Story Behind Trevor's Story
ShootingUSA host Jim Scoutten details wheelchair-bound shooter's journey
Editor's Note: In tonight's episode of ShootingUSA on Outdoor Channel, at 3 and 8 p.m. ET, viewers will see "Trevor's Story" a compelling look at the process of wounded warrior Trevor Baucom becoming a competitive shooter, despite his being restricted to a wheelchair. But there's far more to the story than what you'll see in the show. ShootingUSA host Jim Scoutten shares the story behind "Trevor's Story."
The credit for this story really goes to an accident of our office/studio location. We share a large office-warehouse building with a high-end physical therapy company. That's where Chief Warrant Officer Trevor Baucom was heading in his wheelchair when we first struck up a conversation on the sidewalk.
I meet quite a number of people in wheelchairs coming and going from the therapy center, but I'd never before met an individual with a more cheerful and positive attitude.
That first day, I invited Trevor and his flying buddy, Apache Pilot CW3 Jeff Lamprecht, who had driven Trevor down from Clarksville, Tenn, in to tour our studio and offices and have a look at our inventory of firearms. They both were gun buffs and greatly enjoyed seeing and handling most everything in our gun safes.
And I started thinking, how might we involve Trevor in our television work? Could he be a correspondent for us, reporting stories from the perspective of his wheelchair? I knew we had a significant number of wheelchair-bound viewers watching Shooting USA, from some of the reactions we had received in the past, when doing stories involving wheelchair shooters.
The answer came during dinner in Springfield, Mass., with Julie Golob and Paul Pluff of Smith & Wesson. They decided Trevor might be added to the S&W Shooting Team. When I explained the opportunity, Trevor was quick to accept the challenge of becoming a S&W Team member. But we would need a lot more support to make it happen.
Danny Wisner, the owner of Atlanta Arms and Ammo was quick to agree he'd be Trevor's Ammo Sponsor. Over the next 12 months, Danny would supply thousands of rounds of 9mm practice ammo and match ammo as Trevor worked to master pistol shooting.
Nevitt Morton of Nevco Targets sent a full set of steel plates for practice. And I called in Scott Carnahan from Safariland to figure out how to adapt a holster to Trevor's chair. Scott and his California engineers produced a series of prototypes that would become more attractive and more functional with each generation.
But I also warned Scott he would have to be ready to sell the wheelchair mounts when handicapped viewers saw that they could participate in the shooting sports.
Todd Jarrett and Jerry Miculek both signed on as Trevor's instructors and his technique and accuracy improved with each practice session.
Then there was the question of which handgun sports Trevor could shoot. NRA Action Pistol and the Bianchi Cup was the first obvious thought, with static shooting positions. I called Tom Hughes, NRA Competition Director, and wouldn't tell him why, but I needed somebody at the Green Valley Range to go out to the mover stage and measure the dimensions of the concrete shooting pads, and the height they were raised above the surrounding gravel.
We were keeping the announcement of Trevor joining the S&W team secret until the 2011 NRA show, but we needed to verify that his chair would fit on the shooting pads. We taped out the dimensions Tom relayed on the carpet in our office and found Trevor's chair fit.
We also laid out the dimensions of the barricades, and the distance to the targets from the 35-yard line. We did that in the parking lot in front of our building, with Trevor testing his ability to lean out of his chair far enough to see and shoot the 35-yard targets, the most severe angle.
He first tried it with the arms installed on his chair. But he found he did have enough muscle control to not need the arms installed. We also found his "off road" wheelchair tires would sit on the angle iron shooting boxes behind the barricades, and be stable enough for him to shoot. So we had proved-up his capability to shoot Bianchi. I told Tom Hughes, in confidence, that Trevor was coming to shoot the match.
Tom said, great, we'll have Trevor shoot the mover on the secondary installation up on the hill above the primary ranges, so he doesn't slow down the match. I said, "Tom, that's a no-go. It's absolutely imperative that our TV audience see Trevor competing on the same stages that Doug Koenig uses, that they've seen Julie Golob shoot. This is all about handicapped competitors shooting even up, heads-up, with able bodied competitors."
Tom said, "it's vitally important that each competitor not take more than seven minutes to shoot the mover, to get all the competitors through that stage." I promised Tom Hughes we'd time Trevor shooting the mover and I'd tell him if it took more than seven minutes. And it didn't, so our audience is seeing Trevor shooting just like any other competitor.
That's been the primary vision from the beginning, for both Trevor and for me, that the shooting sports figure out how to accommodate handicapped, wheelchair shooters without creating a para-division, without any special class of handicapped competitors.
And that produced a spirited exchange of ideas when we moved to set-up Trevor to compete in the Steel Challenge. The USPSA had recently taken over Steel Challenge competition from the founders, Mike Dalton and Mike Fischman. I sent off the first e-mail to USPSA President Michael Voigt on a Saturday when Voigt was about to conduct a USPSA board meeting.
I asked him if Steel Challenge rules allowed a special holster for a handicapped shooter. He replied that USPSA rules did, Steel Challenge did not have that rule, but he'd see to it that they did adopt a new holster rule in about an hour. And the board quickly passed the rule that would allow Trevor to use his gear to compete.
Then there was the discussion about the stage that requires shooters to run from one shooting box to a second. The obvious answer was to allow handicapped competitors to shoot all shots from the center box, but there needed to be a time penalty to keep the competition "heads-up". We got Julie Golob into the e-mail exchange, she thought a two-second penalty was about right. Mike Voigt thought one second.
John Amidon, Director of the USPSA Range Officers Institute and the Match Director of the Steel Challenge, wanted no time penalty at all, to be more welcoming to handicapped shooters. I said, "No, that doesn't work. If Trevor gets good enough to win the match, we don't want anybody grousing that he had an advantage."
In the end, we all settled on a one-second penalty for shooting from the center box on Outer Limits. So even before he got to Piru, Calif., Trevor had laid the groundwork to open up another shooting sport to wounded warriors and the handicapped.
And there was much more ahead to learn. Traveling with Trevor showed me the difficulties for the handicapped. Jeff Lamprecht is a big and imposing guy, and he's personally thrown able bodied individuals out of handicapped toilets, when they were keeping Trevor waiting. We've also discovered the stupidity of people at hotels who think they are complying with the Americans with Disabilities Act, which equires handicapped access to their facilities.
Then there're the hassles Trevor endures with the TSA: "Sir, can you step out of the chair?" "Ah, no." That made for an interesting article all by itself on the good, the bad, and the ugly of traveling in a wheelchair. We've even talked about a second career for Trevor as a consultant to hotels on what it takes to be in compliance with the law.
Mark Shafer, Shooting USA Senior Producer, gets the credit for managing a year-and-a-half of video tape into the compelling scripts that make up Trevor's Story. I had to read his stories at least 10 times before announcing the scripts, to get my emotions under control, to sound professional. Senior Editor Carlos Torres then turned the scripts into finished work. Director of Post Production, Andy Southard, then assembled the show elements into what we think is the most compelling and significant work we've done in 19 years of reporting stories of the Shooting Sports.
Through it all, Trevor remains the most cheerful and enthusiastic individual you will ever meet, if you're lucky enough to encounter him at an event or a match. At one point in our year-and-a-half of working together, we were in my office. I closed the door and said to him, "We both know you are unlikely to ever get out of your chair. But you're the most positive individual I've ever met, and I've met a lot of pissed-off people in wheelchairs going to therapy next door. How do you do that?"
He said, "It's simple, I'm alive and with my wife and family."
We all can learn a lot from Trevor Baucom.