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Is it just me, or is it a little dusty in here?
Explosions have shattered much of Marcus Burleson’s adult life.
The Twin Towers. The Afghan bomb that blew up in the young Marine’s face. His marriage.
But this week came an explosion Burleson, 34, had been craving for years: the crack and kick of his new M40A3 rifle, custom-made by LaBelle, Fla., gunsmith Buck Holly to be shot by a man with no hands.
Sweat shining on his scarred cheeks, Burleson cocked his head and curled his black bionic finger around the trigger of a weapon designed similarly to a Marine Corps sniper rifle used since the 1960s. With the faintest of mechanical whirs, he squeezed, then fired.
Burleson laughed. And kept laughing.
“How’s that?” Holly exclaimed. “230 yards. First-round hit.”
Still grinning, Burleson said, “Like a tuning fork.”
Beyond the impressive marksmanship, this shot is another step on Burleson’s journey to the kind of life he wants. Though technically disabled, he works to raise money and awareness for other injured veterans, difficulties be damned.
“Shooting has always been a passion for me. … I’ve been shooting for as long as I can remember, always hunting — whatever was moving.”
He learned about Holly and his company, C&H Precision Weapons, from a friend who’d been an Army sniper.
“I really wanted to get back into shooting and I wanted to do it right,” Burleson said. That meant a rifle he’d be able to use with minimal help. For the last six months, he and Holly have called and emailed each other as the company fashioned Burleson’s custom rifle.
After his first few shots with it, Burleson was visibly elated. So was Holly.