Michael Whapples from Leicestershire is blind and shoots air rifle. In 2011 he was the first British shooter ever to compete at the Open European Shooting Championships for the Vision Impaired, held at Nitra, Slovakia.Read More
Vic Morris lives in south Wales and is paralysed from the neck down as the result of an accident. With the aid of an 'equaliser' device invented by his coach, John Kelman, Vic shoots pistol and rifle.
Stewart Nangle, a Lancastrian, is pictured shooting .22 pistol. What the photograph does not show is that at the time one of his legs was fitted with a metal frame that was bolted into the bones.
The DSP receives a steady flow of requests for advice from clubs wishing to set up facilities for disabled participation, or to develop or expand their existing provision. Advice is sought on various levels; initial planning, funding, building new facilities, special equipment, etc. As the information we are giving out might well be helpful to other clubs, we are making it available in this section of the website.
We are well aware that many clubs have limited resources, not only in terms of finance (which can be remedied by grants), but also people and space – which are harder to increase. Accordingly, wherever possible we try to suggest options and solutions that are not going to require large quantities of these scarce resources.
Please note that the information in this section is not yet complete or comprehensive. We have put it on the site because it is clearly needed without delay. It will be added to and developed as more content comes to hand, so please keep re-visiting.
UPDATE: The English Federation for Disability Sport has created a very helpful on-line toolkit for clubs that wish to be more disabled-friendly. Please see our news article about it.
Securing finance is covered in the Funding section of this site (in the More Information menu).
Information about some helpful equipment can be found on our Equipment pages; more will be added to these shortly.
If you are looking for something specific that is not covered here, please contact Liz Woodall who will do her best to assist.
To start off with here are some thoughts on the sort of things that a club might consider in order to create or increase its provision for shooters with disabilities.
The difficulty is that one can never predict what sort of disabilities people will have when they decide to come to the club and have a go at target shooting.
Everyone always thinks of wheelchair accessibility. If the club can manage to provide it that’s great, but if not you can still cater for the 90% of disabled people who aren’t in wheelchairs.
When planning for wheelchairs, remember that although a traditional-style hand-pushed chair can turn on the spot, the larger modern electric chairs do need more space to negotiate bends – especially important in corridors and passages, and narrow walkways to targets!
Gravel is a very difficult surface for both wheelchair users and those who are not very steady on their feet. Replacing gravel with a solid surface can be difficult and expensive. Discarded rubber and nylon conveyor belting (often available very cheaply from quarries, gravel pits and mines) can be laid on top of gravel, providing a much more stable surface at much less cost.
If there is any question of a lift being needed, do contact DSP Co-ordinator Liz Woodall about it because that’s a topic on its own and we have suggestions that are simpler and more affordable than people imagine.
Disabled toilets come in two types – big enough to take a wheelchair, or if that isn’t possible, equipped with handrails and a raised seat to help people who are “ambulant disabled” but need that bit of help to get up and down. A low washbasin is also helpful.
Where there are stairs or steep steps, handrails or pull-bars on the door-frame will be helpful.
A bit of thought about making facilities “comfortable” for disabled members can make a big difference. For example, having low tables in the members’ lounge area because they are easier for wheelchair users.
Where new building work is considered, many local authorities provide guidance (often on-line) about how to provide for wheelchair access, etc. If you consult the local authority about your club’s plans, remember to remind them that small sports clubs are not covered by the obligation imposed on public facilities to have full accessibility, so the requirements for shooting clubs will be much more relaxed – basically, whatever you can manage.
Prone rifle off a table – if you have members who might be helped by doing this, providing suitable tables and chairs that fit on the firing points without impeding other shooters is very helpful.
Benchrest – this is probably the single most disabled-friendly discipline in our sport. If the club doesn’t already offer it, Andy Dubreuil who is one of the top benchrest shooters in Britain and is in a wheelchair has a lot of useful information on his website The Benchrest Show.
Blind/VI – if your club would be interested in adding this to its portfolio of disability options, you will need to liaise with Ken Nash at the NSRA. Ken organises this scheme and will guide you through the whole process of getting the kit and setting up the facility.
Pretty well all other disciplines are accessible to people with disabilities, but some are a lot harder for people with particular types of disability. It is really a case of club members being ready, willing and able to help disabled shooters to devise and develop adaptations to equipment, technique and position that will enable them to take part. This will be a test of members’ ingenuity and inventiveness – most people find it is a very interesting and enjoyable part of their sport! The DSP can help out a lot on this front, via two of our schemes:
Information Exchange – if we are given details of a particular problem that needs solving, it can be circulated it to all of our contacts to see if there is anyone else who has already solved this problem or something similar to it. If so, they can liaise with you to pass on their solution.
Mentoring – disabled shooters who need support from someone who has a detailed understanding of their disabling condition can be linked with a more experienced shooter who has the same or a similar condition, or else a coach who has worked with that disability. If the mentor is too far away for meetings to be arranged, they can keep in touch via ‘phone and e-mail – this has been found to be very effective for many disabled people taking up shooting; we even set up such an arrangement from Britain for someone in the Falkland Islands! A similar arrangement can be set up between clubs, where one wants to set up facilities to cater for certain disabilities, and another has already done so.
Good range lighting can make a huge difference for those who have poor or deteriorating vision. At the moment there is no formal guidance about “best practice” on range lighting, but we have asked the relevant national governing body if it would consider providing some, and this is under consideration.
Think about how members with mobility problems will not only be able to get onto the firing point, but change their targets – if they become full members there may come a day when they are shooting without any able-bodied members around to change targets for them. “Fly by wire” target changers are a solution not only for air rifle - they can be used up to 50M; such equipment is not unusual in Germany. Alternatively, grant funding might run to one or two electronic targets, which are operated entirely from the firing point.
It’s very helpful to have range equipment that is adjustable. For example, bench tops that can be set at different heights for those shooting from a stool, high wheelchair or low wheelchair. Some clubs have devised and built in a range of simple and helpful adjustments to cater for various disciplines and disabilities. Clubs that would like some advice on this topic are welcome to contact us.
A fair proportion of those with disabilities need to shoot with a stand, so having several available, of various types and heights, will be handy. These don’t all have to be the official IPC approved “Belgian spring” model; a selection of home-made stands is often very useful when people are experimenting to find what suits them.
Airgun is usually the discipline that people start with. It helps enormously if the airguns use air cylinders instead of being spring-loaded. The latter often mean that a disabled person will need an assistant to load for him/her, which reduces their independence as a shooter.
For deaf shooters we now have information about two systems for giving visual range commands, which can be installed on some or all shooting lanes.
If special equipment needs to be developed and made to help a particular shooter, the DSP can help find people to do this. A number of our contacts have engineering backgrounds and are willing to help in this way, and there is a charity called REMAP which does exactly this sort of thing across the country.
It is very helpful if key people in the club attend a disability awareness session; usually half a day. These are on offer from Sports Coach UK, and you may well be able to find one being run locally; your County Sports Partnership people should know about them (find it through the CSP Network). These sessions include lots of useful tips on how to make disabled people feel more comfortable socially; for example by people sitting down when talking to a dwarf or a person in a wheelchair so that they don’t have to be looking up all the time.
At the most basic level there is the need for all members to help keep the facilities tidy so that those with mobility problems can move around safely – gun cases all over the floor are quite a problem for some! We know of one club that has constructed a set of gun-case shelves in one corner of the clubroom, for members to use on club nights, to avoid exactly this problem.
Range Officers need to be aware of any adjustments that need to be made for members with particular disabilities.
Coaches – we are currently working on the development of a module on disabled shooting for existing as well as newly-qualified coaches.
Don’t forget that the cost of all this training (course fees, travelling expenses, any overnight accommodation, etc.) can be covered by grant funding. If all the courses that will be needed over a year are planned in advance a Sport England Small Grant can be applied for to cover them – these grants have to be spent within 12 months.
Nowadays, everyone is familiar with the requirements for safeguarding children, so there is no need to re-state them here. In any event, information is available on the CPSA, NRA and NSRA websites. What must not be overlooked is the fact that the safeguarding provisions also relate to "vulnerable adults"; i.e. many of those with disabilities and age-related impairments. The Sport and Recreation Alliance has produced a very helpful resource pack on this topic.