I can still remember when Tom signed on as National Manager a little more than five years ago. At the time, Tom was incredibly gracious with me and consented to a casual interview. Over the years I’d run into him at the Nationals. And once in a while we’d talk by phone about strategy issues relating to the promotion of our sport.
During his tenure at the NRA, Tom was credited by many outside the Association to have single-handedly saved the Bianchi Cup. There’s a lot of truth to that claim. Granted it’s not our discipline but by 2010 the Bianchi Cup had declined to such a point it had become almost irrelevant; it was on life-support with only a handful of competitors. It had become little more than the walking dead.
Yes, Tom worked tirelessly to snag as much media as possible, gathered sponsorship monies and promoted this event to a new generation of action shooters. This man knows the value of good vision, provided someone’s ready to roll up their sleeves and work real hard. In Tom’s case he had to do both.Possibly about a year ago, Tom and I spoke about his considerable accomplishments with the Bianchi Cup. Then I coyly asked him if he could do the same for our sport. He replied, “I’ve tried, they won’t let me. But I’m working on getting better sponsorship for the [Precision Pistol] National Match.”
I left his statement there, and didn’t probe any further. At the time it didn’t seem polite to push him to reveal who “They” were. And I was a little stunned there would be any kind of resistance for making anything better.
For those of you who are match sponsors, it's been obvious over the past several years that Tom’s staff reflects his commitment to our sport. Members of the Pistol Division have been incredibly helpful and upbeat with a positive can-do attitude.
Please don’t think I want to put words in Tom’s mouth, I don’t. My casual observation has been he had reasonable and productive ideas that would have transformed and enhanced our sport; on several occasions he intimated others in-house weren’t interested in promoting anything. None the less, I’m speculating about my interpretations of these conversations, so take them for what they're worth.
I have an enormous amount of respect for Tom. He truly cared, worked tirelessly for us, made a real difference during his tenure—and asked for nothing in return except for the success of our sport. I see his departure as a substantial loss for all of us.Whoever fills his post has got some mighty big shoes to fill.
Update: I really rushed to get this out. And I’m sorry for all the typos you had to wade through.