After nearly 3 decades in law enforcement, when 66-year old Mark Schumacher, Port Byron, IL, eyes a target, it’s as good as a bull’s-eye.
We’re not just talking about his expert handling of weaponry in training, sport, or competitive target shooting, but the laser focus he brings to overcoming knee and wrist pain that almost sidelined his career.
Schumacher is counted among the elite Quad City gun experts in target shooting, as well as law enforcement weapons training and gun safety education.
The former Knox County Chief Deputy Sheriff, Port Byron Police Chief, weapons instructor, and high school shooting coach has made target shooting a lifelong vocation and avocation.
“My father was a Marine, so when I was a boy we’d hunt together. I grew up in Silvis and began target shooting on the United Township High School Rifle Team.
“I’ve always shot. It is so fun.
You build mental strength, and the demands of hunting and target shooting require agility — you’re up and down on your knees, turning corners, moving to reload as fast as you possibly can, all while trying to hit paper and steel targets at up to 1,000 yards.”
In addition to competing in national tournaments, ranging from tactical shooting to cowboy action shooting, Schumacher has also trained over 1,000 law enforcement officers and civilians in basic pistol shooting.
He has taught various weapons platforms to patrol and SWAT teams, and worked with and instructed federal law enforcement, including US Marshalls.
He also coaches a Quad City youth shooting team, and has led them to two state championships, and coached two national champions.
“Throughout my law enforcement career, I have enjoyed the challenges of improving my handling and target skills, as well as teaching others to do the same.
“In retirement, I’ve continued to dedicate my time as an educator to both law enforcement and target shooting enthusiasts, to improve their ability, while practicing effective gun safety and handling.”
Yet after more than five decades of shooting, Schumacher’s storied shooting career was almost sidelined after debilitating arthritis.
“I felt like a cripple. People said they could hear me walking, my knees were so worn out!”
ORA Orthopedic Total Joint Surgeon, Dr. Edward Connolly, successfully performed total knee replacement surgery on both knees between 2006-2013.
“In each case, I instantly felt better the moment I woke up, and I was always ahead of schedule on rehab,” Mark recalls.
And while his knee pain was gone, arthritic hand and wrist pain in both hands resulted in two more surgeries between 2013-2016.
“I couldn’t pick up a pop bottle,” says Mark.
ORA Orthopedic Hand Surgeon, Dr. Thomas VonGillern, fused his left wrist in 2013 and his right 3 years later.
“Mark suffers from progressive arthritis,” says Dr. VonGillern. “My goal was to make sure he was able to keep doing the work he loves.
“Before the surgery, we did some test casting to simulate the wrist position he needed to hold a gun in either hand, so that after fusion surgery, he could still shoot.”
“Both wrist surgeries were successful, and he saved my career,” says Mark.
Overall, Mark credits both Drs. Connolly and VonGillern for ensuring he has more decades to compete, and provide safe and expert gun handling education for all ages and abilities.
“ORA’s doctors are phenomenal,” he affirms.