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  • michaelwhapples1Michael 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. 

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  • MattSkelhon1Matt Skelhon shot to fame when he grabbed gold at the Bejiing Paralympic Games and proved it was no fluke by claiming silver and bronze at London 2012.

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  • peterbreheny1Peter Breheny from Derbyshire shoots benchrest rifle.  He has Kennedy's Disease, a progressive wasting condition that has weakened his limbs. 
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  • Di CoatesDeanna (Di) Coates lives in Hampshire, shoots air rifle from a wheelchair, and is one of our most successful disabled international athletes. 
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  • scoutwithprosthesis1This young Scout was born without a left hand.  When he took an interest in shooting, which is very popular in the Scout movement, Hampshire Scouts helped his local club to find a solution. 
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  • vicmorris1Vic 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. 
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  • stewartnangle1Stewart 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. 
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DSP IntDisCon W

DSP Workshop Conference on 26th October 2013
At West Midlands Regional Shooting Centre, Wolverhampton

Our purpose in setting up this conference was to explore what can be done to encourage the inclusion and integration of people with intellectual disabilities in target shooting as far as possible.

The need for such an initiative has been apparent for some time. Our contacts with clubs, coaches, range officers, committee members, etc. over the last two years have shown that whilst many are willing to welcome people with these disabilities, and to try hard to help them take part in the sport, others are so worried about safety, and feel so ill-equipped to deal with such people, that they have not been prepared to welcome them in. In a sport for which safety is absolutely paramount, this level of caution is understandable, but it is often excessive. We have been aware of shooters with a range of intellectual disabilities who are taking part in the sport perfectly safely.

The aims of the conference

  • To explore ways in which people with various intellectual disabilities could take part in the sport
  • To identify any safety issues with a view to determining what, if any, type or degree of disability cannot be catered for safely
  • To establish what guidance on safe participation should be provided for coaches, officials and target shooting venues
  • To propose options for promoting participation by working with clubs, shooting grounds and disability support organisations

The principal disabilities considered were learning disabilities, autistic spectrum disorders, Asperger's Syndrome and brain injuries. Epilepsy and some mental health conditions were also discussed.

Headway Delegates from a wide range of shooting backgrounds were joined by representatives of several disability support organisations. They heard from a number of very interesting and helpful speakers. Cathy Fox of Headway West Midlands spoke about their members who have suffered brain injuries, often accompanied by other disabling injuries.

Next we heard from Nick Platt of Growing Rural Enterprise about the Wellies Project, which succeeded in converting the Staffordshire NHS from opposing to supporting target shooting as a recuperative activity for people who have mental health problems and often intellectual disabilities as well. Nick showed a video which can be viewed on their website

special olympics

Dr Niamh-Elizabeth Reilly talked about the people she has worked with at Special Olympics GB, and Sara Lunn of Mencap Sport gave a good overview of learning disabilities in sport. Representatives of several clubs contributed their experiences. There were lots of questions and plenty of discussion of the key topics, which had been identified as: safety, volunteers, accessibility, training and guidance, opportunities, and barriers.

Mencap Sport

One particularly helpful piece of information that came out was that some of the disability organisations will provide workshops for people who wish to learn about the characteristics of those with a particular disability, and to find out how best to work with them. These are usually run by local groups free of charge, so it should not be difficult for clubs to arrange for key people to attend.

By way of light relief, WMRC staff and DSP colleagues arranged some shooting. This gave delegates the chance to try some equipment which can be helpful for people with some intellectual disabilities, such as red dot aiming, which helps those who find conventional sight systems too complex to cope with. Thanks to Blackburn Rifle & Pistol Club, who kindly loaned the equipment, crossbow shooting was also on offer, and was very popular.

Results

At the end of the day, in addition to the key topics, the conference had provided us with a list of key points by way of an agenda for moving forward in this area of the sport:

  • Education to change perceptions within the sport
  • Availability of support from disability organisations
  • Risk assessments
  • Training of coaches, range officers, volunteers, etc.
  • Assessing people’s capacity and capabilities
  • Insurance
  • Supervision
  • Informing range officers of shooters’ disabilities
  • Making decisions about membership

In the coming months we will be considering these points, gathering information, consulting interested parties, and working with NGBs and disability support organisations. In Spring 2014 we plan to publish our proposals for tackling them.

Throughout this process we shall be pleased to receive contributions from people who have an interest in this subject. Particularly useful, of course, will be news of those individuals or clubs who have found ways of solving problems and overcoming barriers in working with shooters who have intellectual disabilities.

Postscript

Cathy Fox reported that she had carried out a simple survey of Headway West Midlands members to find out which sports they would like to try. Shooting was on the list, and got twice as many requests as any other sport. A fortnight later we heard from another disability sport organisation that exactly the same thing happened to them. It seems that when shooting is offered, plenty of people are keen to take it up, so presumably the reason why many more people don’t choose shooting is because it isn’t offered or they don’t know it’s available. Food for thought!

Hot News!

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Videos on disabled target shooting now on Vimeo and YouTube. You are invited to contribute your videos.

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survey Information about people and facilities is vital to our work (and funding). YOU can help by completing our People and Clubs/Grounds Surveys.

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Read about the huge increase in Sport England investment in grass-roots target shooting. 

International Development

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Read about how we are hoping to expand the range of international competitions open to disabled shooters, and let us know if you can help.  

Helpful Stuff

Vision for Shooters

For most shooters, being able to see well enough to aim accurately is the key to our sport. Our Vision Section has lots of information to help all shooters who have vision problems, great or small.

Funding Guidance & Information

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Need information on funding for any aspect of disabled target shooting?  Check out the extensive Funding section on this site. 

Advice for Clubs

EFDS Inclusion Hub is a free on-line resource created by the English Federation of Disability Sport for clubs that wish to become more disabled-friendly and include more disabled people in their activities.
More information

Disability Awareness

For those encountering people who have various types of disabilities, we offer a round-up of some on-line advice and videos that may help to put everyone at their ease.