David Smith was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease when he was 38 years old. At the time of his diagnosis, Dave had a hard time finding resources and a community available to him as a person dealing with Young Onset Parkinson's Disease. "It was a very isolating time in my life", Dave says. "It was a steady decline, to the point of my independence in jeopardy in all aspects of my life."
From the time he first experienced the tremor in his hand to getting the diagnosis, it was only one year later, that the tremors spread throughout his entire body. Other symptoms he experienced left him debilitated, and at times homebound. Dave experimented with different medication, which always left him dealing with even more side effects. He underwent extensive physical therapy - to include fitness for Parkinson's patients, boxing, cycling, dancing, and walking. But he got hurt doing some of these activities one way or another.
Facing the possibility of putting himself in a nursing home by the time he was 40, Dave turned to the only activity that motivated him to get out of the house - shooting. Growing up, Dave was very active. He was a bodybuilder, outdoors enthusiast, and could often be found fishing, hunting, and target shooting. One day, he picked up a laser pistol trainer, and used it to test out whether or not he was steady by pointing (aiming) the laser pistol at a light switch on his wall and confirming if the laser was steady. He realized that whenever he picked up this laser pistol, the application of applying marksmanship fundamentals caused the signals in his brain to allow him to remain steady. Using this theory, after hearing about neuroplasticity in one of the lectures he had sat in, Dave took it upon himself to start his own physical therapy program - Gun Therapy. It was a way for him to access the dopamine he needed in a natural way, and not from a pill. (Parkinson's Disease is a lack of dopamine, which is needed as a neurotransmitter in the brain.)
Every day, Dave would train with his laser pistol inside his home, which eventually led to visiting an indoor range and shooting a specific course of fire. This eventually led him to start going to shooting matches outdoors where he could really test his limits. The more he shot, the more he discovered that he could, at times, focus his energy, and as a result manage his Parkinson's symptoms. Even if only for a brief moment, this feeling of normalcy empowered Dave to feel like there was some hope in dealing with his disease.
His dedication to shooting ultimately led to a sponsorship by F-1 Firearms, where he eventually was able to represent Team USA at the World Rifle Match in Sweden in 2019.
Read more about Dave featured in a FOX News article here.
He met his fiance, Amy Dillon, at a 3-Gun Competition in 2019.
Amy Dillon is a former Marine Corps Drill Instructor and Combat Marksmanship Instructor. Amy served 12 years active-duty and is now committed to pursuing her goals in the Firearms, Tactical, and Outdoors Industry. In addition to her military certifications, Amy is certified as a Concealed Weapons Permit Instructor by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, State of Utah Bureau of Criminal Identification, and Georgia Carry Organization. She is a firearms instructor for the National Rifle Association, United States Concealed Carry Association, as well as a Personal Safety Academy Instructor for the SABRE Civilian Safety Awareness Program.
Amy had also previously been employed as the Director of Training and Range Operations for Palmetto State Armory, a firearms manufacture, retail, and range company based out of South Carolina overseeing 5 locations statewide.
Amy is the creator and co-producer of Women in Combat TV, a show dedicated for women veterans, as featured on the Pursuit Channel by TAG Entertainment/Trigger Time TV.
Amy currently works with several brands in the firearms/tactical industry. As a freelance writer and consultant, Amy regularly contributes articles and creates digital content related to gun laws and gun topics to various online blogs and media publications. You can also hear her as a regular co-host and guest on various podcasts and radio shows.
On her travels, you can find Amy on the range, training for various shooting competitions she competes in nationwide; or at various trade shows and events, where she often speaks as part of her advocacy work for several non-profit organizations.
Amy was recently featured on the 5.11 Tactical "Call To Service" Podcast. Listen here.
You can keep up with Amy on:
Together, they share a goal in telling Dave's story and in spreading the message that recreational shooting is a form of therapy. They hope to serve as examples of this and to inspire others through different outreach initiatives.
The ultimate goal of Gun Therapy is to provide clinical data that can be used as a reference to have Gun Therapy medically endorsed - just as other forms of physical therapy are available to people living with Parkinson's Disease, and other neurological and physical disabilities.
Please consider donating to Gun Therapy today to help in our mission.
You can contact Dave and Amy directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.