In March 2014 we are putting the spotlight on shooting for those who are blind or visually impaired. This is because there has been a significant upsurge of interest in this area of the sport, so we are using this month to highlight the opportunities available, and to introduce our plans for the next twelve months. Below is a round-up of all the latest news on this topic - there is quite a lot of it!
Those who are new to the concept of blind participation in target shooting can find out about it in our introductory article, which also includes some notes on the latest developments in additional disciplines. There is also an overview by VI shooter Hussain Patwa.
Anyone who is looking for somewhere to try acoustic air rifle shooting can check out the list of clubs which have the equipment for it.
The British Blind/VI Championships were held at Aldersley on the first weekend in March. A report and the principal results can be found in News about Events.
We are delighted to welcome the opening of the latest acoustic shooting facility to be set up by the indefatigable Ken Nash, who has been the key man in developing this discipline in Britain over the last 20 years. Ken travelled to the Isle of Man for the usual installation and training process, and the Manx Acoustic Shooting Club was born. Our report has links to various local reports of the event, including a video by Manx TV.
On the Radio
A crew from BBC Radio 4 attended the first day of the British Championships and produced an excellent report that was broadcast on the In Touch programme a few days later. The programme also included an interview with blind journalist and broadcaster Sean Dilley who shoots clay target at the Lea Valley Shooting Ground in Hertfordshire. For those who find this hard to believe, there is a video showing how he does it.
On the TV?
We have also been contacted by one of the TV channels seeking information about blind biathlon, with a view to including a piece about it in one of their programmes in the run-up to the Winter Paralympics. If this is broadcast, we will add details here. In the meantime, anyone who would like to find out about this challenging sport can view a video that has just been released by IPC Shooting.
On the domestic front, Acoustic Sporter Crossbow, which has been demonstrated at several of the DSP's promotional events, is becoming popular. Blackburn Acoustic Airgun Club are getting so keen on it that they would like other clubs to take it up so that some competitions can be introduced for it. Any clubs interested should contact John Lloyd at Blackburn - as usual, grants should be available to cover the cost of acquiring the equipment.
We have been receiving a lot of enquiries about blind/VI shooting from London and the south east. At the moment, the only clubs with acoustic aiming equipment in that area are Tubslake Shooting Centre in Kent and SportsAble at Maidenhead in Berkshire. Clearly we need to find several more clubs willing to acquire the equipment (which can be fully grant-funded), and/or some blind/VI support organisations with premises where 10-metre ranges can be set up for this purpose.
During this month we are liaising with existing clubs in the area that have airgun facilities, with British Blind Sport, the London CSPs, and several blind/VI groups. The aim is to arrange a meeting or conference to agree on the best way of meeting this demand, and then helping those clubs and venues that are willing to set up the facilities. Naturally, we will be very pleased to hear from anyone interested in this exercise - particularly clubs who would like to get involved. Please contact Liz Woodall to register your interest and be kept informed.
In other parts of the country we have been encouraging and supporting more clubs to offer acoustic shooting. Ken Nash, and hopefully his newly-recruited apprentice will be kept busy this year setting up at least half a dozen more facilities.