Safety has extra meaning for gun club owner

By M. Scott Morris/NEMS Daily Journal

BLUE SPRINGS – Dick Holloway said safety is a top priority at his gun club, Whitetail Ridge Outdoors.
“As long as people do right, they can keep coming,” he said. “If they don’t do right, we handle it.”
Safety glasses and ear protection are necessary, as well as a general awareness of who’s moving around at the range. Holloway said he and his members have that part pretty much covered.
He has a different problem: There’s evidence to suggest the natural world is out to kill him.
“I told somebody there was time when I should’ve got in a closet and stayed there,” the 52-year-old said. “Somebody could’ve brought my food and slid it to me.”
His run of odd events began on Feb. 24, 2001, when devastating tornadoes ripped through Northeast Mississippi. Holloway and his wife, Connie, live on the same property as Whitetail Ridge, which is on Birmingham Ridge Road near Blue Springs.
“We were in the shelter for the first tornado that went through,” he said. “We watched it go, then got hit by the second one. It came down right on us.”
The tornado ripped the roof off the locker room and clubhouse and destroyed three fields.
Oh, and it plucked Holloway off the ground.
“I ended up 18 feet up in a tree. I hooked my arm around that tree as I went by,” he said. “That’s the only thing that kept me from flying out into the fields. I think about it sometimes: What if I missed that tree?”
Holloway estimated the experience lasted 15 seconds.
“I told everyone I couldn’t have handled 30 seconds,” he said.
The next incident came in August 2005, when the remnants of Hurricane Katrina blew through the region. Another tornado caused some damage at Whitetail Ridge, but Holloway didn’t get a scratch.
Nature left him alone until spring 2011, when the tornado hit Smithville so hard. People had helped him in the wake of his two tornadoes, and he wanted to pay the help forward in Smithville.
“The doctor said I couldn’t do it,” he said. “I had a spider bite. Probably a brown recluse.”
He’s got pictures of the bite on his iPhone, and he’s glad to show them. They’re not pretty.
It took three months before Holloway could resume his schedule. On that first day of freedom, he was on a four-wheeler when his hat fell off.
“I was reaching down to get it,” he said, “and a copperhead bit me.”
He didn’t go to the hospital. Later, his doctor asked, “Why not?”
“I had all those antibiotics because of the spider bite,” he said. “With all that junk in me, the snake probably died.”
Nature hasn’t struck since then. A generally safety-conscious man, Holloway is philosophical about his string of dangerous events and what they might mean for the future.
“You know, I survived all this. Probably, some 3-year-old’s toy will roll over and kill me,” he said. “That would be my luck.”
scott.morris@journalinc.com