Wednesday, May 23, 2012

(PART 1 of 4)

            Dealing with ALS has taught me the true meaning of “adaptive shooting gear” because I’ve had to keep adapting my strategies and equipment to stay in the hunt as the disease progressively eroded my strength and mobility.
            Here’s how I compensated for my weak arms at the onset of ALS:

During the 2006 and 2007 hunting seasons I could still safely handle a rifle on my own (load, unload, operate the action and safety), but I couldn’t raise and firmly hold it to my shoulder.
At first, solving this problem required no special gear designed for handicapped shooters; I simply followed a cardinal rule of marksmanship and made sure I had a solid rest for the rifle. The shooting rails in permanent blinds worked perfectly. When hunting from pop-up blinds, I used my four-legged walker or a set of Stoney Point shooting sticks for which I had purchased an optional third-leg attachment to form a sturdy tripod.
As my arms became weaker, I had to compensate by holding my left hand under the stock to steady it against my shoulder while I squeezed the trigger with my right hand. Although a bit awkward, this solution allowed me to hunt solo after friends helped me reach the blind.
 Here’s an October 2006 photo of me hunting in Pender County, North Carolina, in a ground blind built by my friend Mike Marsh.
 Thanks to the blind’s shooting rail, I used a .243 to take two does that morning at ranges of 100 and 120 yards.

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