Aspen veteran needs financial boost to attend international shooting competition | AspenTimes.com

Aspen veteran needs financial boost to attend international shooting competition

Robert “Bob” Perigo credits skeet shooting with pulling him out of the tailspin in the 1960s when he tried to readjust to civilian life after serving three tours of duty on a Navy patrol boat in Vietnam.

Perigo was drinking, drugging and brawling in Chicago after he returned from service with an honorable discharge. He was working security in Chicago for Phil Henke, who also owned the old Little Nell bar and restaurant at the base of Aspen Mountain. Henke said to look him up if he needed a new job and a place to stay.

“He said that I would like it there as it was a small, quiet little ski town,” Perigo recalled recently.

He took up Henke on the offer in 1969 and has lived in the Roaring Fork Valley ever since. Perigo continued his wild ways despite the change of scenery, but by the mid-1970s something clicked to snap him out of it.

“I like to credit shooting sports for saving my ass. It changed me for the better.” — Bob Perigo

As the son of a career officer in the U.S. Army Air Forces, Perigo fell in love with skeet shooting and got quite good at it at the bases where his dad was stationed. Skeet shooting was Perigo’s ticket into college but he put it aside during his military service and return home.

He picked up the sport again in the Roaring Fork Valley at age 32 when he was invited in 1975 to try out for the USA Shooting Team for the Olympics. He took the opportunity seriously and cleaned up his lifestyle.

“I like to credit shooting sports for saving my ass,” Perigo said. “It changed me for the better.”

Perigo is a fixture at the Basalt shooting range and has helped organize countless outings for disabled veterans visiting the Roaring Fork Valley. He’s also active in valley veterans’ affairs.

Now, Perigo is the one that could use some help. He is trying to raise $6,000 in less than one month to attend an international shooting competition in France. This one is special for Perigo, 75, because it’s close to where he lived for a time when his father was stationed in France during the Cold War. He said the site of the championships one hour northeast of Paris is very similar to where he lived.

“When I saw the terrain and all the woods, I thought, ‘I have to be there,’” he said.

After getting back into skeet shooting in 1975, Perigo participated in competitions through the rest of the 1970s and into the 1980s. By 1988 he was burned out.

“I discovered something that’s ultra-challenging,” he said.

That was a style of sporting clays where clay pigeons are presented like wild game, known by the acronym FITASC. Targets are launched from several points all around the shooter, at varying distances and at different speeds and angles. It’s a much more challenging style of shooting.

“I sucked,” Perigo said of his first tries at it.

But that’s just what he needed to get reinvigorated about shooting sports. He made his way back into international competitions on the strength of his performances in the U.S. By 2010, he was attracting “big money” from sponsors that helped him travel to competitions.

The competitions are typically four days long with a total of 200 targets. Competitors shoot with 12-gauge shotguns.

Perigo said he practices five days per week. All the practice and the competition help achieve a kind of inner peace.

“Being good in any sport will teach you things during your journey that have little to do with winning a medal, if you will honestly open yourself up to suggestions, compliments and criticism,” he said. “You don’t always win. But there should always be something good to take with you from each practice as well as each performance.”

In 2012, he won the U.S. Sporting Clays Championship Tour in the Super Veteran category. Ironically he didn’t stick around for the awards ceremony because he didn’t think he shot well enough to win. A big silver cup and gold medal had to be shipped to him.

Continued strong performances in 2013 qualified him for the 2014 USA FITASC Team as an alternate and qualified him for the world championships in France. He said he ended up in the bottom layer of 50 shooters, a performance he didn’t mind since he was battling cancer for a second time.

He self-funded his trip to the world championships in Budapest, Hungary, last year. This year, he needs some financial assistance for a return engagement to France. The sponsorship days are behind him so he’s looking for personal donations. Instead of an impersonal GoFundMe page online, he is making personal appeals.

The competition starts July 7. He needs to be in France by July 4, so time is of the essence. He must determine soon if he can accept the invitation to compete.

Anyone with questions about the competition can contact Perigo at perigo@sopris.net.

Anyone who wants to make a donation can contact Perigo’s friend, Don Delise, at 970-379-3474 or delise@rof.net.

scondon@aspentimes.com


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