Disabled Shooting: Practical Shooting from a Wheelchair

    Unfortunately a disability can prevent you from doing what you love most. If you’re one of our readers it is likely that that hobby is either hunting or shooting in some form or another, or even self-defense.

    Luckily there are solutions for people in wheelchairs to compete in target shooting. Of course there’s the Paralympic Games but that may not be for everyone. You may not win, but you can participate in local matches and have fun like your fellow competitors. (The same can be said for everyone!)

    NRA Adaptive Shooting described it pretty well:

     Participation in even brief episodes of moderate activity, such as target shooting, improves stamina and strength while also promoting well-being

    In the picture above you can see a competitor in a wheelchair taking aim at two targets. In this case the white paper are targets and the brown is a no-shoot penalty target to avoid.

    For instance, the IPSC Rule book gives the Range Master and the Range Officers some options to offer disabled shooters:

    5.2.9 Competitors deemed by the Range Master to be permanently and significantly disabled may be given special dispensation in relation to the type and/or placement of their holster and allied equipment, and the Range Master will remain the final authority in respect of the safety and suitability of using such equipment at IPSC matches.

    8.3.9 A competitor with a severe hearing disability may, subject to prior approval of the Range Master, be entitled to have the foregoing verbal Range Communications supplemented by visual and/or physical signals. The recommended physical signals are taps on the competitor’s weak side shoulder using a countdown protocol, namely 3 taps for “Are You Ready?”, 2 taps for “Standby” and 1 tap to coincide with the Start Signal.

    10.2.10 Special penalty: A competitor unable to fully execute any part of a course of fire due to incapacity or injury may, prior to making his attempt at the course of fire, request that the Range Master apply a penalty in lieu of the stated course requirement. If the request is approved by the Range Master, he must state, in advance of the competitor attempting the course of fire, the extent of the special penalty, ranging from 1% to 20% of the competitor’s points “as shot”, to be deducted. Alternatively, the Range Master may waive application of any penalties in respect of a competitor who, due to having a significant physical disability, is unable to comply with the stated course requirement.

    (Source (pdf))

    For instance, there may be places within the shooting area that a person in a wheelchair cannot go. So the competitor may be allowed to shoot the targets from another spot (safety angles and other safety factors allowing).

    I’ve also seen senior people who recently had a surgery walk through and past obstacles, with a 10% penalty. However it can be hard for the Range Master to judge how much of a penalty is fair, so that a disabled person doesn’t get a tremendous stage win due to the wrong calculations.

    Here’s an example: Dr. D. Light Wheelchair Shooter IPSC Israel League. Notice how the shooter holsters the gun while moving. This can of course be tricky if you’re shooting a rifle, but there are solutions. for instance the Range Officer can help you carry the rifle in a safe manner and direction.

    In the United Kingdom there are also a few competitions for disabled, like the adaptive competition (part of the Imperial Meeting) specific for recovering service and ex-service personnel.

    Any competition where suitable arrangements can be made for the shooter based on the nature of their disability is a positive.

    Picture courtesy of DAE – F&K Sport Sweden AB.

    What is your take on this? Do you have any experiences to share with us and other readers of TFB?

    Eric B

    Ex-Arctic Ranger. Competitive practical shooter and hunter with a European focus. Always ready to increase my collection of modern semi-automatics, optics and sound suppressors. TCCC Certified medic.