Living with a disability for many years has taught me that I can accomplish most things I put my mind to as long as I’m willing to try new things and make accommodations.
Whether it’s using an accessory to help me put on my socks or a long-handled shoehorn to help with putting on shoes, there are tools out there that I’ve learned to use and depend upon to make my life easier.
So too have I found shooting accessories that have made my shooting experience as a disabled individual a more enjoyable one.
But best of all, these accessories can make an able bodied individual have more fun at the shooting range as well.
Ready? Load it, rack it, aim it, shoot it
Load it — Let’s face facts. The main purpose of target shooting is putting lead down range and holes in targets — not spending time loading magazines.
So my first advice is to drop that macho exterior and pick up a speed magazine loader. For a person with arthritic hands or hand weakness due to another illness or injury, a speed loader is money well spent.
Some semi autos, like Beretta and Heckler & Koch, have their own brand of speed magazine loader. But if your pistol of choice doesn’t come with one, there are universal options out there from a number of manufacturers including Butlers Creek and MagLula that you can find at your local sporting goods stores or online.
Another way to get the most of your range time is to load your magazines the night before. To do this, you’ll need to get yourself additional magazines for each of your pistols.
I, for example, have five magazines with each capable of holding 15 rounds (legal in my state of Pennsylvania) for each of my handguns. Yes, it’s a bit pricey but as I sit in front of the television and load the magazines at my leisure the night before, I’m grateful for the investment.
In fact, this shooting-eve ritual is something I look forward to, as it increases my anticipation and enjoyment thinking about the next day’s activity.
Once at the range, I’m able to shoot 75 rounds per pistol without ever needing to reload a single magazine.
Rack it — Even able-bodied shooters can find racking, or charging a semi automatic pistol, difficult.
Once at the range, I find it easiest to rack my pistol first, insert a pre-loaded magazine and have the rack release load the pistol. If I insert the loaded magazine first, I find it a bit more difficult due to the additional tension from the round being pulled into the chamber.
Luckily for Glock and Springfield Armory gun owners, there’s a product now on the market from a small family owned business in Western North Carolina. TGR Enterprises, Inc., that’s a great solution to this problem.
Called the Brass Stacker Slide Pull, this product was developed primarily as an aid for those who have difficulty grasping slide serrations. This includes men and women, young and old, from arthritic to a petite frame to injury and disability.
The ambidextrous Slide Pull attaches to the serrations on a pistol’s slide so the shooter simply has to insert a finger into the large circular attachment and pull straight back.
According to TGR Enterprises chief designer Steve Wait, there has even been demand from Law Enforcement and Military personnel for purchasing this product for backup weapons in anticipation of possible injury in the line of duty that may render them impaired.
There are so many requests for this product that the company is planning on developing for many of the more popular platforms including the 1911.
Aim it — For the average shooter, factory sights are often enough for a successful and enjoyable day at the range. These sights come in as many styles as there are shooters.
If you’re looking for an enhanced sighting experience, you can also equip your gun with large red dot sites or even pistol scopes.
But for shooters with limited shoulder mobility, a laser sight can be your best choice.
The types of lasers available to gun owners have exploded over the past several years and include green lasers, red lasers, rechargeable lasers, lasers that mount on a rail system, pistol grip lasers and even guide rod lasers.
Each laser has its own set of pros and cons but it is basically a matter of personal preference.
I’ve found that no matter what type of laser I use it has greatly improved my accuracy and confidence.
Shoot it — Now that I’ve got you more comfortable loading your magazines, racking your pistol and given you a number of choices in helping you better aim your weapon, we’re down to the main point — shooting.
For anyone involved in the shooting sports, the most talked and written about subject is, of course, recoil.
This often controversial subject can’t be solved in this modest column. As we all find out, it takes experience and experimentation to discover how much felt recoil one can handle.
So before buying your first gun, try out as many models and calibers as you can. This can be accomplished by trying out your friends’ guns or renting a wide variety of firearms at your local gun store and gun range.
This advice applies to both able-bodied and disabled shooters. But for individuals with severe hand issues from disease, age or injury, there are some great new products that can keep you in the game.
The lack of finger strength is perhaps the most devastating condition that can put an end to one’s shooting days very quickly and decisively. After all, what’s a trigger without a trigger finger?
A visit to the online store, AdaptiveOutdoorsmen.com, offers up many useful appliances for disabled people looking to participate in outdoor sports.
I’m particularly intrigued with the “finger control hand device” that is used to straighten and add support to curled and/or weak fingers to allow user to pull the trigger of a gun or a crossbow.
Although I currently don’t need this appliance, I can see myself needing it in the future as my arthritis continues its relentless and progressive nature.
Hopefully this article has demonstrated that there are numerous ways and products available today that can keep you going the range and enjoying the sport we love.
Correction: We mistakenly identified Steve Wait as the president of TGR Enterprises, Inc. Mr. Wait is the company’s chief designer. Terry Rutherford is the president of the company.