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
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.
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.
This page is aimed at helping people to locate a suitable club or shooting ground. It includes some advice to help those new to the sport to identify suitable clubs for their specific needs and aspirations.
Clubs that are known to the DSP as being disabled-friendly are listed separately, with details of their key features, in the Clubs section.
Having identified one or more clubs in your area, it is wise to make contact before turning up on the doorstep. Some preliminary enquiries made over the telephone or by e-mail beforehand may avoid a wasted journey and a disappointing evening. We have set out here a checklist of the sort of points to consider and enquire about before setting off for a taster session or first visit.
If the visit is going to be just a "taster" to see if it is worth pursuing the idea of taking up target shooting, distance may not be a problem. However, when looking for a club that one can attend regularly (most shooters go to their clubs at least once a week), the journey time may well turn out to be an important factor.
Most clubs shoot in the evenings on weekdays, and perhaps during the daytime at weekends. Some clubs, particularly those with quite a few retired members, do run daytime sessions on weekdays. Clubs that shoot indoors in the Winter and outdoors in Summer may well have very different opening times depending on the season.
Anyone with limited mobility will be used to enquiring about parking, steps, door-widths, toilets, etc.
A lot of clubs with disabled members arrange for someone who is fully able to be on hand to help with any difficult tasks such as getting into a building, moving equipment to and from vehicles, and so on. However, it is worth enquiring about this - visiting on a club's "veteran's night" might mean that no such help is available.
No two clubs are the same, and that applies just as much to the character and atmosphere of the organisation as to the physical facilities. This is why it is often worth visiting several clubs to begin with, to see which of them one feels most at home in.
Some clubs only shoot one discipline; e.g. .22 prone rifle or benchrest. Others offer quite a range of different disciplines, so a beginner can have a go at a number of options to see which he or she prefers. Not all disciplines are equally accessible to people with disabilities, and some are not at all suitable for quite a few disabilities.
A well-run club should have at least one qualified coach among its members. It may be helpful to know if the coach has attended a workshop or module on coaching people with disabilities, as that will make him or her more confident in working with a newcomer.
A person who has very limited use of their hands and arms will probably be able, with the assistance of suitable equipment, to aim and fire a rifle. However, they may find it difficult to cope with tasks requiring strength and dexterity, such as re-loading some types of guns. The rules allow a shooter to have an assistant to help set up their shooting equipment, and to load the gun for them, but that means that the adjacent firing point must be left vacant for access, and also there will inevitably be some movement, however quiet, whilst shooting is in progress. It is probably as well to mention this at an early stage, so that other members (who may have well-established habits on the range) can be fully briefed by club officials beforehand.
Nearly all clubs own some equipment which is available for use by newcomers, and by members who choose not to have their own. Some clubs have equipment that is particularly suitable for, or even specially designed for use by people with disabilities. Letting the club know in advance what one's disability is will give the coach time to consider whether they have any particular item of equipment that will clearly be essential, and if not to arrange to borrow it before your visit takes place.
A club that already has one or more other members who are less-able or disabled is much more likely to take everything in its stride than a club which has never had to cope with helping a newcomer to learn things that its existing members are totally unfamiliar with.
The amount of competitive involvement of clubs varies enormously. A potential new member who is looking for lots of competitive participation may feel a bit unfulfilled in a club where everyone only shoots one league card a week. Equally, a person who is very laid back and wishes to be more of a 'social shooter' might not feel totally comfortable in a club where everyone is expected to enter everything they are eligible for. Needless to say, most clubs are between these two extremes! It is also worth checking whether there are likely to be competitions available that are open to shooters with your type of disability.