By Vera Koo, Women’s Outdoor News, Published March 16, 2020

When I consider my life and how fortunate I have been, it is almost as if I am in a play with a perfectly written script. My story has had countless hurdles and challenging times, but just when it seems as if I am in a situation I am not equipped to handle, someone enters my world who helps me along the way.

It is as if all the characters in my story come to me at just the right time.

The holiday season is a time for reflection, and a time for giving thanks. Around Thanksgiving, I began thinking about all the people who helped me at various stages of my life and contributed to my success.

I did not come to this point in life by myself. I received a lot of help, especially during my shooting career. I was quite aware of it throughout every step of my journey. However, we need to do more than just feel thankful. We should express our gratitude.

I have expressed my thanks to friends and family throughout the years, but as 2019 came to a close, I wanted to be intentional about it. I made a special effort to thank those who most helped me during my shooting career.

Vera Koo is thankful for …

Jim Gong

I would not have enjoyed the successful career I had if not for Jim Gong giving me a solid base. I reached middle age having never handled a gun, when I decided that I no longer wanted to fear guns. Carlos and I enjoyed camping, and I wanted to know how to use a gun if I ever needed to for safety.

So, I enrolled in a firearms safety class for beginners at De Anza College, where Jim Gong was my course instructor. He was a police detective and proved an excellent teacher. He taught me how to grip the gun, the stance, sight alignment and trigger control. He taught the discipline of bullseye target shooting.

At the end of the session I requested to repeat the class, and he said I could. Overall, I took 7 quarters of either beginner, intermediate or advanced courses at De Anza, with Jim as my primary teacher.

I saw him once years later and thanked him for helping me build a solid base that provided a good foundation when I began my competitive shooting career. Back when I saw him, I was at the height of my career, and he told me he had been following my successes.

I hope he continued to track my career, and he should feel proud about the difference he made in his student’s life.

This winter, I looked up Jim’s address. He lives several hours away, so I wanted to send him a note of gratitude and cookies to express how deeply grateful I am for how well he taught me the fundamentals of shooting and handling a firearm. Unfortunately, I only have a post office box address.

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