One of the most decorated shooter in the world, Lones Wigger passed away — following complications from pancreatic cancer — on Thursday at his home in Colorado Springs, USA. He was 80 years old.
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 and two ISSF World Championship titles.
Wigger was born in 1937. He 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.
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.
Wigger who was selected as one of the U.S. Olympic Committee’s 100 Golden Olympians in 1996 is survived by his wife of 59 years, Mary Kay, his two sons and daughter Ron, Danny and Deena.