At just 17 years old, Team GLOCK’s Tori Nonaka is known as one of the top female competitive shooters in the world. In 2011, she had the opportunity to represent the USA at the IPSC World Shoot XVI in Rhodes, Greece. Tori took home two medals: an individual silver and a team gold. So it was no surprise to see Tori travel to Italy in early May to compete in the IDPA European Cup.
During her time in Europe, Tori took time to partake in several sightseeing endeavors as well as cultural pastimes. Tori also embarked on an activity that many athletes can only dream of – a snowboarding adventure at the Italian Alps.
And then … it happened
It was May 4 and Tori had taken several trips down the slopes. There had been a few minor spills, the usual for a novice snowboarder. Unfortunately for Tori, her final trip down the hill turned out to be a horrific one. She picked up a bit more speed than expected and lost control and crashed. “I didn’t have the opportunity to tuck my arms in, so when I fell, I hyperextended my wrist” Tori said.
Two days after the accident, Tori wrote of the pain and fear that she felt at that moment:
Friday, May 4 I broke my wrist while snow boarding. It was very difficult being faced with the uncertainty of when or if I could ever shoot again. The sharp pain was nothing like the fear I had for my shooting career. I buried my forearm in the snow to numb the pain, in hope that all would be okay. The friendly paramedics that I spoke to 20 minutes before were soon helping me to the bottom of the mountain. I arrived at the local hospital, anxious for the doctor to say it is not broken and to heal my wrist that I held close. At the first glance, he said, “It is broken.” In that moment I was crushed inside that my passion for shooting might be taken away.”
Tori was taken to a larger hospital in Italy that specializes in treating fractures due to skiing accidents. X-rays confirmed the initial doctors prognosis that the left wrist was fractured (Tori’s strong hand is her right), but the doctor assured her that this would not be the end of her prominent career.
Upon returning home to Virginia, Tori followed up with her own doctor, who again put her at ease with by confirming that the break was not too serious. Tori used her downtime from competition to enjoy the right of passage that she was right around the corner, her high school graduation. At just 17 years of age, Tori had been working extra hard while balancing her shooting career to not only graduate with a very high GPA, but also to do it a year earlier than normal standard – another way that she has proven to the world that she is an exceptional young lady.
On Thursday, May 31, Tori’s cast was removed. The only shooting she had done while wearing the cast was some strong hand practice. With the cast gone, Tori still had to protect the wrist with a brace. She competed in a local USPSA competition June 1 and 2 to become acclimated with the device and to learn how to alter her shooting style to remain competitive, yet also keep the wrist safe.
“There were three primary modifications that I had to make. First, it was difficult to get a proper grip due to the splint. Second, my reloads were very difficult because I was unable to properly rest the magazine in my palm. Third, I had to be cautious in my movements while navigating the course. Any fall could possibly cause the fracture to become worse,” Tori said.
Last week, Tori competed in the Carolina Cup; it was her first major match since the injury. She wore her brace during stages that had a higher risk of injury to the wrist, as she remains very cautious about causing any further injury. At this point in time, Tori feels the wrist is only at about 60-to-70 percent of where it needs to be. She plans on continuing to work hard at getting back to where she was.
During the past month, Tori has received a huge amount of encouragement from her family, friends, fans, and of course, GLOCK. “I am just so thankful for all the kind words and support I’ve received. I really feel that I will be back to 100 percent very soon,” she said.
Anyone familiar with determination and natural ability knows that something like this will not get in the way of her accomplishing her dreams.