For the last seven years, several National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) Pennsylvania local chapters have been hosting an event called Wingshooting Warriors, and this year's has just concluded. The brainchild of NWTF volunteer and former regional director Walt Bingaman and long-time volunteer and former Stony Valley Chapter president Jack Giblin, the event is designed to provide veterans and first responders with a day of fun and fellowship in the outdoors to recognize and honor their service.
Wingshooting Warriors was initially limited to disabled veterans, to engage them and provide them with the resources needed to get back into the field. However, as an opportunity arose to expand the event, the Sun Area Local Chapter began including any servicemen or women, including current or past military service members, firefighters, police officers, emergency medical providers and more. The event was recognized at the NWTF Convention and Sport Show in 2019 with the Membership Achievement award for considerably growing participation in the event … and grown it has.
This year’s event saw over 100 veterans, first responders and current serving servicemen and women gathered at the over 1,300-acre Martz Gap View Hunting Preserve in Dalmatia, Pennsylvania, for a day of camaraderie, good food, sporting clays and pheasant hunting. The Martz family generously donates its facility for the Sun Area Chapter to host the event.
The event started with breakfast and a speech from Marine Major General Paul Brier welcoming everyone and speaking about the importance of servicemen and women to our country. The Line Mountain High School band honored the servicemen and women by playing the National Anthem and the Armed Services Medley for all six military services. Hunters split the rest of the day between working the pheasant fields with well-trained bird dogs, and trap and sporting clays, as well as enjoying some delicious BBQ for lunch.
The venue has brought folks from various backgrounds and unified them through hunting. Giblin recounted watching veterans from different eras bond through their service and hunting.
“This is just a way to say thank you for your service, show them a good time, and maybe introduce someone to hunting for the first time or rekindle their appetite to go afield,” Bingaman said. “The NWTF is proud to honor our servicemen and women through our mission to conserve the wild turkey and preserve our hunting heritage.”
“We are incredibly thankful to all of our great partners that make this event so successful year after year,” Giblin said. “We have turned Wingshooting Warriors into a well-oiled machine, and we’re already looking forward to doing it again next year.
“One year, we had a World War II veteran and a veteran from the Gulf War paired up, and it was amazing to see them connect and talk about their experiences despite being generations apart,” he said. “When you see stuff like that, it’s a reminder that all the work put into making this event successful each year is worth it.”
The Sun Area Chapter reached the maximum capacity for this year’s event. They are looking for additional ways to expand the event and provide more opportunity for our service members, while bringing together those who safeguard our nation.