October 18th, 2009

Disabled Shooters Compete in Paralympic Biathlon

The New England Disabled Sports Paralympic Biathlon Academy (NEDS) recently sponsored a paralympic biathlon event, hosted at the Pemigewasset Fish & Game Club in New Hampshire.

New England Disabled Sports Paralympic Biathlon Academy

New England Disabled Sports Paralympic Biathlon AcademyAt the biathlon, disabled shooters competed alongside able-bodied competitors. While this was a Paralympic Academy event, the biathlon competition was open to both disabled and non-disabled. There were multiple divisions to accommodate everyone: mountain bike, running, walking and wheelchair. All stages of fire were off-hand (no prone), to equalize the match for wheelchair-bound competitors.

New England Disabled Sports Paralympic Biathlon AcademyNRA’s Disabled Shooting Manager Vanessa Warner attended the event, competing from a wheelchair (though she is able-bodied). This helped her experience some of the challenges that face disabled shooters. Vanessa reports: “The wheelchair course consisted of five loops with four stages of shooting. We did a loop first and then shot. Shooting in the biathlon is very difficult because the athlete shoots with the same arms [used] to propel the chair. Shooting from a seated position is hard enough but doing so with arms that were already stressed is more difficult than one can imagine.

An offhand biathlon target is about the size of a tennis ball and is shot from a distance 50 meters. No easy task when tired, out of breath, and with a racing pulse. Competitors fired five shots at each stage. If you missed, you were assessed a time penalty. I hit all five targets in only one of the four stages and hit as few as two. The final loop was the hardest. My shooting was finished but I still had to get to the firing line. By then my arms were rubber and my shoulders cramped in ways I didn’t know possible.”

Following the biathlon, NEDS conducted a shooting clinic for people with disabilities, followed by a short target competition. Jeff Krill was the champion with a 100-7X score.

Photos and story courtesy NRABlog.com.

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