ROCKFORD - For years Ralph Everson was the Stateline's and the state's top sporting clays shooter. Then his days of competitive shooting came to a screeching half.
Everson WAS an Illinois State Champion sporting clays shooter seven times. He was automatic at nailing those flying orange discs. He's shot more than one million rounds, But all of that shooting took a toll on his body.
"What I first noticed was some discomfort in my neck," says Everson. "Then after that I started to have some numbness and tingling down my arm into my hands."
Most shooters that have competed for a long time end up with neck or shoulder issues.
"The recoil is what tended to cause it. Not just the position but the cumulative recoil over years and years of shooting," says Everson.
He knows a thing or two about medical issues. Everson is a family practitioner in Rockford with SwedishAmerican. He knew his issues were getting serious. The pain told him so.
"I never slept a night for more than 30 minutes at a time," he says. "Sleep on one side, turn to the other side."
He underwent five surgeries on his neck from 2010 to 2016 to fuse together herniated discs with titanium plates. Everson had to stop shooting after the first surgery. Now he's able to shoot again, but he no longer competes.
"I'm a pretty competitive guy by nature, and I know that if I get out and compete and didn't win that I would want to win and I'd be back shooting every day and probably get myself into trouble again, so I'm satisfied just shooting for fun," says Everson.
Everson has one major regret...that he didn't get his neck checked out sooner when he first began experiencing pain. It might have saved him a lot of discomfort and time. He advises all men to have regular medical checkups.
"Particularly for neck and back issues especially if you have pain, weakness, numbness or tingling then it's probably time to see your doctor and check it out and not just ignore it," he says.
Dr. Everson's message is timely. June is 'National Men's Health Awareness Month.' Everson encourages all men to see their doctor on a regular basis.
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