World Record True Story about CHIEF AJ
A true story of pain, suffering, and agony to get to the other side. The path to glory and how what Chief AJ did can help you.
During the World Record Aerial Shoot back in ’87, Chief AJ shot 8 days in a row for 14 hours each day. There was lots of repetition and after 3 days of shooting, lots of pain. The pain came on the first day after 7,300 shots in a row. The Chief tossed wooden blocks into the air with his right hand while holding a Ruger 10/22 rifle in his left. This required entire body co-ordination, not just hand and eye. Tossing the small blocks (like the ones you played with as a child with ABC and 123 on them) took a bend in the knees while swinging the right arm and lifting the rifle with the left. Timing was everything for the rifle had to hit the left shoulder at the same time the right hand grabbed the rifle's forearm. The rifle, at that instant, had to be positioned on the "sweet spot" of the left check so that the Chief was looking down the middle of the barrel over the lined up sight.
THE RIFLE HAS TO BE IN THE RIGHT POSITION
After using the whole body to get the rifle in position on the shoulder and looking down the barrel, Chief AJ had to find the flying block. On a calm day, this works well but Chief AJ did not have a calm day until the last day of the shoot. There was no apex pause of the block at the zenith of a curve as it went up and started back down. The wind was whipping the blocks left and right and even in a swirl most of the long days of shooting. With the rifle raised in position, the block has to be found just over the sights and a quick trigger squeeze while keeping the rifle moving in order for you to hit a moving target with a moving rifle.
STANDING UP ALL DAY TAKES A TOLL
On the very first day, the pain hit Chief AJ’s left wrist. In practice, he had never gone past 5000 shots at flying targets in a day. At 7,300 rounds, he found out that he was using his left wrist to move the 7-pound rifle around and not his whole left arm. At the end of the first day, a correction had to be made.
At the beginning of day two of shooting, Chief AJ had an ACE bandage wrapped around the rifle buttstock and his left forearm. This trained Chief AJ to lift the rifle with his whole arm and not just the wrist. Around noon the second day, he was about to remove the ACE bandage and lift the rifle properly. The pain was gone from the wrist and on that second day of the big shoot, Chief AJ hit 10,200 flying blocks in the air. Two days and no misses for a total of 17,500 hits on flying blocks. The old record with a .22 rifle was 32,860 straight hits on aerial targets. At this point, Chief AJ knew that was going to take two more days of shooting to break the record. After two days of shooting, his knees were swollen and his feet ached. This marathon event of shooting a World Record on flying targets was undertaken by Chief AJ to celebrate his 50th birthday.
On the morning of the third day, Chief AJ was 15,360 targets away from breaking the record knowing that it would take more than one day to do this. On the third day, he hit 9,300 targets leaving 6,060 to go. As the sun went down and it became too dark to shoot, the Chief's knees, ankles, and legs were swollen to twice their size alone with pain in every joint. Dean Rothermel and Roger Dorsett had to help Chief AJ get into bed.
FOURTH DAY OR THE WALL OF PAIN
During the night's rest, the swelling and pain did not go away. Chief AJ hobbled to the shooting site on the fourth morning and laid down in the shooting area. Chief AJ explained that he hurt too bad to stand up let alone shoot and then shoot straight. Surrounded by his friends trying to encourage Chief AJ to stand up and shoot 6,061 more targets and break the record, the Chief AJ just moaned and growled and would not get up even to try. Then Nancy Smith the PR lady from Lost Valley Lake Resort, the shooting site, came to encourage the grumpy shooter. Nancy looked down at Chief AJ and asked:
"Hey, Chief AJ do you hurt?"
No reply from AJ , who was just laying there rolling back and forth morning in self-pity.
Nancy tried again:
"Chief I have a TV crew coming at 10:00 to film you breaking the World Record, are you going to get up and shoot?"
No reply from the 50-year-old Indian who was so close to becoming a Champion Rifle Shooter. Now Nancy had to work hard in order to get press to Lost Valley Lake, deep in the Ozark Hills of Missouri. She had already brought in 3 TV stations, 4 newspaper reporters and a National Outdoor Writer, Larry Elliott of Guns Magazine. She thought of a way to get the old Chief going. Again Nancy look down at the sorrowful Chief and asked:
"Hey, Chief AJ, do you remember meeting my three sons before this shoot started?"
At last, AJ looked up at Nancy and said:
"Sure, fine young men."
Nancy to Chief AJ:
"Are you hurting like when I gave birth to those boys?"
Then AJ parted his lips and got out a, "NO!"
He rose to his feet and marched over to the table stacked high with the block targets. He picked up his favorite 10/22 from 18 rifles his friends had loaned to him to set the record. Painfully, he picked up the first block of the fourth day, tossing into the air and splitting it with a center hit form a .22 long hit. Quickly, he tossed more and more targets, hitting them all. In one half hour, he crossed through the Wall of Pain. Yes, Chief AJ did not know about the runner's wall of pain that they hit during a marathon. A runner who has made it though this wall can tell you all about it. The wall of pain is part of a marathon event.
ON THE OTHER SIDE
After shooting that first half hour, the pain goes away. The Chief's joints quit hurting. The swelling of joints, knees and ankles dissipates to normal. The Chief shot his way to the other side. The other side of the wall of pain and into the ZONE. He is now in the groove. He just knows that he cannot miss a flying target. He knows ahead of time how the wind will effect the flight of the targets. He is feeling no pain form the natural endorphins flowing through his body. He is tossing and shooting at a high rate of speed, feeling exhilarated! By 2:00pm, he is past 38,360 targets and has set a new World Record. The TV crew is there filming for the 6:00 o’clock news in St. Louis, MO, Columbus, MO and Kansas City, KS. Still photos are being taken, one of which will become the front cover of GUNS Magazine, Sept. of 1987 issue.
He shot on until dark, just now realizing what he had just achieved. He knew about breaking the World Shooting Record, but he did not yet understand that he was now "ON THE OTHER SIDE". He shot through the wall of pain and into the performance groove.
Chief AJ kept on shooting on the 5th day, 6th, 7th and the 8th day just to run up the aerial .22 rifle moving targets record to 40,060 straight hits without a miss. By the eighth day of shooting, Chief AJ began to understand that he was in the groove. He know something had happened and now he had super awareness of not just shooting and hitting but all that was going on around him. He could even sense what was behind him. He awareness was at a new level. He had never been so alive and feeling so good!
50 years old having just set a now World Shooting Record felt very good, but still not really being able to explain what had happened on that day of pain the fourth day. When Guns Magazine came out to the newsstands with a color photo of Chief AJ shooting on the front cover, he started getting calls from around the world! He got a call from Jim Dickson, Outdoor Writer, who congratulates the Chief. The Chief began to tell him about shooting through the Wall of Pain and then being in the groove. He just knew he was to going to hit the target.
It was Jim Dickson that explained to Chief AJ what had taken place on the fourth day. Jim had traveled the world and trained with several ZEN and Marshal Arts Masters. In the Orient, Jim had paid a Zen Master to make him chant in monotonous repetition for 3 days and nights in a row with out food or water while being beaten with bamboo rods. On the forth day of this repetitious routine and pain, he make it to the other side. The side without pain and in a state of well-being. Being aware of all around you, right, left, ahead and behind. Jim explained to Chief AJ how that the pain alone with the monotonous repetition of shooting the first three days had helped lead Chief to the other side. The performance groove that basketball payers find when they know they are going to hit a 3 pointer. The performance groove a golfer feels when he knows just how to sink a putt. The zone that baseball home-run hitters get into. The performance groove.
AFTER THE BIG SHOOT
Chief AJ went back to work as a millwright setting heavy equipment after the shoot. When Guns Magazine came out with his World Record shooting story, he had to pull off the job and open a gun smith shop, for so many people wanted him to tune up their Ruger 10/22 rifle like he had his tuned for the big shoot. Then, by poplar demand, Chief AJ opened a Rifle Camp teaching rifle shooting with his beloved Ruger10/22 rim fire rifles. Now, after teaching thousands of people his style of shooting with a .22, the Chief had realized that he can teach people how to get to the other side and into the performance groove that works for any sport or physical maneuver. This came about in early 2004 when he started teaching with bb guns along with .22 rifles. With bb guns, Chief AJ could teach almost anywhere and not just in a special place where aerial shooting can be done with a .22. Not only that but a bb gun can be shot a great number of times with out stopping to reload and lose momentum. Through bb gun shooting, Chief AJ has learned how to teach people to "get to the other side", into the performance groove. He now has a bb gun park near Tuscola, IL where he teaches instinct shooting. Your can spend two hours with Chief AJ doing bb gun training and improve your golf putting, up your batting average or learn how to visualize that basketball into the hoop. Improve your sporting clay scores or enhance any physical activity.
Back in '87, Chief AJ did not have an instinct shooter 10/22 this fine tuned or neat.