Road Warrior, Meet Wounded Warrior

By Craig Lamb



The Delta Airlines flight crew did a stellar job to help Baucom make a tight connection on the way to the S&W Nationals.

Jim Scoutten travels thousands of miles each year in his job as producer, reporter, and host of Shooting USA airing on Outdoor Channel. He’s worn the road warrior badge for 18 years, breezing through security checkpoints and making the tight flight connections typical of today’s air travel. But all that has slowed down recently, giving Scoutten a whole new perspective on travel. 

That’s because his recent travel partner is a wheelchair-bound wounded warrior flying to shooting match competitions profiled by Scoutten’s TV series.

That traveler is Trevor Baucom, a former U.S. Army Blackhawk helicopter pilot and the first disabled shooting member of Team Smith & Wesson. Baucom’s disability resulted from a crash during a nighttime assault mission that left him paralyzed from the waist down. Baucom’s attitude and determination impressed Scoutten, who suggested Trevor be included on the S&W team.


The hotel’s “wheelchair accessible room” turned out to be less than accommodating.

Scoutten takes pride in traveling with the medically discharged 13-year military veteran. And he now recognizes the challenges faced by disabled travelers like Baucom. “We start early, and expect delays.” says Scoutten. Such was the case when they traveled to the 2012 International Defensive Pistol Association (IDPA) Indoor Championships held in Springfield, Massachusetts.

“The airlines do what they can, given the circumstances on a given flight,” says Scoutten. “He’s a wounded warrior and this guy is considered to be a hero who ended up in a chair. We try to call him out to gate agents and flight crews to give us better odds of special assistance.”


The Indoor Nationals are held on Smith & Wesson’s Ranges. Baucom credits the IDPA stage designers for the match that could be shot from a wheelchair.

For the IDPA trip Scoutten forked out extra bucks for Delta Airlines first class tickets to reserve seats nearest the forward door, for the flight from Nashville to Atlanta. As their plane rolled to the gate, he assisted the proactive flight crew in assembling Baucom’s wheelchair, so they could be first off to make a 38 minute connection that turned out to be on another concourse.  “The usual process of waiting until all the other passengers got off the plane wasn’t going to work, but our Nashville gate agent got the flight attendants involved.  We had disassembled Trevor’s chair , stashed the frame in the closet, and the wheels in the overhead bins. And that made the connection possible.” Scoutten says.

“You never know what you get until you board the plane,” adds Baucom about whether or not he can board and take his seat without assistance at the doorway. If aisles aren’t wide enough he’s forced to transfer to a narrower wheelchair.

“On a regional jet they have to muscle me into the aircraft and then I’ve got to sometimes climb over the armrest and into my seat,” he says.


Baucom and IDPA's Joyce Wilson.

“Probably the biggest hassle is always getting the pat-downs at (Transportation Safety Administration) security,” he adds. “I realize they’ve got to do it, but it sure gets old when they ask if you can stand up and walk through the body scanner.” Scoutten says, “Trevor never knows what’s going to happen with the TSA, except we both know it’s going to take more time.  That’s why we start out early, expecting delays.”

The Springfield Hampton Inn hotel where Scoutten had booked a “wheelchair accessible room” turned out to be less than accommodating. The room included an accessible bathroom, but was not designed with adequate space for Baucom to maneuver his chair around the room.

“He could get through the door and go into the bathroom, but that was all,” adds Scoutten of the 30-inch clearance needed for a wheelchair. “He couldn’t get to the bed, or the closet, or anywhere else in the room, but the management insisted this was a wheelchair room.  We ended up shoving furniture out of the way for Trevor to be able to occupy the room at all.”

Last year on a HAVA trip with Scoutten to San Antonio, Texas, a Hampton Inn booked Baucom in a third floor room listed as “handicap-accessible.” That made two strikes against Hampton Inns for true accessible rooms.


Trevor, Jim Scoutten with wounded Marine Josue Lopez at HAVA Range Day.

“Nobody’s thinking out there,” Scoutten says of compliance to the federal Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. “In the event of a fire, the first evacuation instructions are to use the stairs and not the elevator.  There’s more to accommodating  somebody in a wheelchair than putting a curb-cut in the parking lot.”

On the other hand, the shooting sports industry is readily embracing the concessions needed to welcome disabled shooters to the fold. The Indoor Nationals are held on Smith & Wesson’s Ranges. Baucom credits the IDPA stage designers, who knew he was a S&W shooter, and created self-defense challenges for the match that could be shot from a wheelchair.  That had never happened before in IDPA competition.   

“IDPA made the trip worthwhile,” he says. “They are very willing to work through what can and cannot be done from a wheelchair to get more shooters like myself involved in the sport.”

And for the next stay in Springfield, Scoutten says they’ll be at the Marriott Residence Inn, down the road from the Hampton.  “Trevor and I went hotel shopping to find somebody who really gets it.  The Residence Inn had ground floor rooms with total access to every area, wide passageways, halls, doors.  Marriot knows how to support a wheelchair guest, so they’re going to be getting our business. 

You do learn to see things differently traveling with a friend on wheels.”

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