If so, it's a small community. There are about 15,000 members of USPSA (United States Practical Pistol Association), and one of the ways we keep track of each other is through The Unofficial IPSC List.
Like all small communities, we note with regret the passing of one of our members. I was saddened today when List Member Carl Schmidt informed us of the untimely death of Ray Echols.
Here's the information Carl was able to provide to us, which was apparently a forwarded Internet news-clipping:
Many will remember Ray as "The last GM" on this forum. He will be missed.
Subject: Ray Echols, Grand Master
* 63-year-old hiker killed in fall*
A Mariposa man fell to his death while hiking in the mountains, officials reported Tuesday.
Wendell Ray Echols, 63, was hiking about 9 a.m. Monday on a trail in the mountains near Lake Arrowhead when he lost his footing and fell about 200 feet, according to a coroner's news release.
Another hiker called 9-1-1. Paramedics pronounced Echols dead at the scene.
The San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department is investigating the incident.
I replied to The List, and can't say it better by rewording it.
Yes, I remember Ray Echols. I lost track of him for a few years, then got the nice people here on The List to send me his email address on January 2 of this year. He and I exchanged emails the next few days, and I asked him if he was still shooting.
He replied that he still shot a few local matches, but that he spent most of his time hiking. He told me that he had hiked sections of The Pacific Crest Trail, and this summer he planned to hike the entire Trail from border to border, starting in Canada and working his way to Mexico.
He sounded very enthusiastic about the three-month trek, and I'd like to think that's where he fell. I wouldn't want him to have missed out on the best hike of his life.
It wasn't a good way to die, if there is one, but he was doing something he loved.
I'll remember Ray the way he looked when I met him at the USPSA Nationals in Las Vegas, 1998. I had hoped to be squaded with him, but of course he was shooting with the Big Boys. I remember that image because of the goofy beat-to-hell straw cowboy hat he was wearing ... on top of a big blue bandana he had tied over his scalp, like a pirate's do-rag.
Ray was a one-off, and I'll miss him.