If Staff Sergeant Mark Weeks(USAMU/Clinton Township, Mich.) hadn’t proven that he was Army Strong prior to this week, he certainly did after competing as an extra filler at the 2012 World Cup in Tucson during the Men’s Skeet competition at the Tucson Trap & Skeet Club.

Originally set to shoot a Minimum Qualifying Score (MQS) with his U.S. teammates, Weeks had to withdraw from competition after an explosion on a jet ski ride last weekend left him with severe second degree burns over the majority of his legs.  Severely bandaged and only able to shoot just one round leading up to the event, Weeks wouldn’t let that phase him when opportunity presented itself to compete on the line. Despite almost unbearable pain, Weeks shot a first round 25 to open competition and would end up shooting a 96/100 in the four rounds he was able to shoot.

“Not too bad for where I began the week,” noted Weeks.

Undoubtedly, Weeks put in more miles walking the range than any other competitor this week.  The only way for him to minimize the severe pain he was experiencing was with constant movement so that the blood didn’t build up on his fresh wounds. He also wasn’t able to wear shoes so he sported Crocs during the event.

Weeks was starting up his jet ski last Sunday when it exploded as a result of a gas leak, blowing him off his machine and sending him to the hospital. He’d undergo extensive surgery Monday that included covering his burnt legs with cadaver skin.  He was released from the hospital on Tuesday and rather than rest at home, Weeks did the unthinkable and the next day boarded a plane for Tucson, unwilling to miss a World Cup on American soil.

“I wasn’t going to miss this,” he said.  “We don’t get the opportunity much to compete on home soil and with this being the site of the Olympic Trials (May 17-20) I just had to get here. It would have been mentally more fatiguing to stay away.”

Weeks estimated his pain on Wednesday to be a nine on a 10-point scale.  He was in so much pain Thursday he didn’t leave his bed in the team hotel. But there he was on the line Sunday and today, shooting alongside some of the world’s best skeet shooters.

“It’s unfortunate that this happened as I had been training really hard for the event,” Weeks said.  “I was ready for this one as I had been shooting really well. Despite all that happened this week, I still feel good about the way I was able to perform this week.”

Weeks will now head back home where he’s set to meet with his burn doctor on Thursday to determine next steps and learn about the skin grafts he’ll need to fully recuperate before May’s Olympic Trials for Shotgun.

Weeks began shooting with his father, Dan, in 1992, and was previously USA Shooting’s National Head Coach for Shotgun. A resident athlete at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs from 1998 to 2000, Weeks joined the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit (USAMU) in 2000, where he has been stationed for the past 11 years minus his stint as National Team Coach. He was deployed to Afghanistan from September 2010 to January 2011.

Weeks just missed a spot on the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team, finishing in third place in Men’s Skeet at the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team Trials and missing the team by just two targets.

photo: USA Shooting

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