Support through Sport UK's Stella Fagg spoke to Liz Woodall about the Disabled Shooting Project (DSP) ...
 
Hi Liz. When, and how, did the DSP begin?
 
The project originated in 2005, when I was working in the membership department of the National Small-bore Rifle Association (NSRA) and received letters from lifelong members who were feeling forced to give up shooting because of age, infirmity, disability, etc. Those letters made me wonder what could be done to help them carry on target shooting. Thus the idea was born of setting up a project to help more disabled people to get into the sport, and to encourage those suffering from age, infirmity, etc. not to give up. Initial data-gathering from NSRA-affiliated clubs produced a large and enthusiastic response and provided clear confirmation of the demand for such provision. The project was run on a voluntary basis until Sport England funding became available, when it was taken over by British Shooting, so that it now covers all target shooting disciplines. 
 
What are the aims of the DSP?
 
DSP is a point of contact for anyone with any disability, or anyone who has become 'less able', to seek help and advice on getting into the sport, or staying in it. We do our best to help these people to find clubs where they will fit in, and which can cater for whatever their disability is. As you will see on our website, growth of the DSP has been fantastic, e.g.:
 
*We have got a coach in the Falkland Islands to work with a disabled shooter there.
*New competitions for disabled shooters are being introduced in full-bore and clay target disciplines, and in blind / visually impaired shooting.
*Representatives of the full-bore and clay target disciplines have joined the working group.
 
Her Majesty the Queen has written a letter in support of the Disabled Shooting Year, which is running from April 2012 to March 2013.
 
The project's aims are:
 
*To offer existing target shooters the best possible chance of continuing to take part in the sport, despite any infirmity or disability.
*To offer people with any disability the chance to take part in competitive target shooting on equal terms with non-disabled people.
*To provide advice and support to clubs wishing to develop shooting for disabled participants.
*To raise the public profile of target shooting as a disabled-friendly sport.
 
How do you go about realising these aims?
 
Basically, by trying to respond to all the requests that come in - e.g. 'how and where can I participate with my particular disability / mobility problem?'. We also liaise with clubs that want to become more disabled-friendly, and work with organisations such as the Dwarf Sports Association (who have their World Games this year). And, besides our website, Facebook and Twitter, we raise awareness of the DSP through magazines such as Target Shooter and The Rifleman, and through National Governing Bodies (NGBs') publications (NRA Journal and Pull!). Our regional conferences are taking place in February and March.
 
Is it usual for disabled and fully-able shooters to compete together?
 
This varies with the discipline. Apart from Benchrest, Small-bore shooting is the most integrated discipline and it has a disability dispensation scheme (which allows for modifications to standard equipment and techniques). With small-bore, disabled shooters can compete against able-bodied shooters in competitions up to national-level. The NRA also has a national dispensation scheme for fullbore but this is not so well used as most of the shooting is outdoors, where there can be complications with ground conditions, mobility and access. In a similar vein, clay target shooting has traditionally been less accessible, although it is now starting to become more integrated.
 
What is the DSP's relationship with British Shooting?
 
We are part of British Shooting and hence receive funding from Sport England.
 
Is special equipment needed at any of your clubs? If so, can this be borrowed or hired or does it have to be bought?
 
The vast majority of our competitors need no special equipment - they are more likely to have a dispensation for a particular technique instead. However, there are a variety of equipment solutions:
 
*Off-the-shelf items such as spring stands for use with rifles and crossbows are commercially available and regulated by the International Paralympic Committee.
*Shooting jackets for wheelchair competitors are often specially made (see our website).
*Specialist equipment tailored to particular needs can be produced by organisations such as Remap, a national charity working through local groups (e.g. retired engineers etc.) to provide one-off solutions to help people with disabilities to achieve independence and a better quality of life.
 
An example of a shooter who has used bespoke equipment is Vic Morris. Vic is paralysed from the neck down and hence shoots using a rifle or pistol mounted in an ‘equaliser’ device, and an electronic switch which he presses with his tongue to fire the shot. Vic competes with able-bodied shooters and has won the NSRA Eley National Competition more than once in recent years.
 
How do interested parties find out more?
 
Please visit our website and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Flickr.
 
Many thanks for talking to us, Liz.