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  • stewartnangle1Stewart Nangle, a Lancastrian, is pictured shooting .22 pistol.  What the photograph does not show is that at the time one of his legs was fitted with a metal frame that was bolted into the bones. 
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  • michaelwhapples1Michael Whapples from Leicestershire is blind and shoots air rifle.  In 2011 he was the first British shooter ever to compete at the Open European Shooting Championships for the Vision Impaired, held at Nitra, Slovakia. 

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  • MattSkelhon1Matt Skelhon shot to fame when he grabbed gold at the Bejiing Paralympic Games and proved it was no fluke by claiming silver and bronze at London 2012.

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  • scoutwithprosthesis1This young Scout was born without a left hand.  When he took an interest in shooting, which is very popular in the Scout movement, Hampshire Scouts helped his local club to find a solution. 
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  • vicmorris1Vic Morris lives in south Wales and is paralysed from the neck down as the result of an accident.  With the aid of an 'equaliser' device invented by his coach, John Kelman, Vic shoots pistol and rifle. 
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  • peterbreheny1Peter Breheny from Derbyshire shoots benchrest rifle.  He has Kennedy's Disease, a progressive wasting condition that has weakened his limbs. 
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  • Di CoatesDeanna (Di) Coates lives in Hampshire, shoots air rifle from a wheelchair, and is one of our most successful disabled international athletes. 
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23rd November 2012

Crazy - computer  stars W

Today I heard the terrible news that a major operation on Andy’s back in October didn’t go according to plan, and as a result he’s now in so much pain that he won’t be able to continue shooting.  This is a huge loss for the sport as a whole, and the close-knit benchrest community in particular. 

Andy has been one of the top British airgun and .22 benchrest shooters for some years, becoming a familiar sight on the firing line in his wheelchair.  In addition to his personal shooting success, both domestic and internationally, Andy has put a huge amount back into the sport by encouraging and guiding other benchrest shooters.  His main vehicle for doing this has been his website The Benchrest Show, which contains masses of detailed information and advice on all technical aspects of the sport. 

On top of that, he has been an enthusiastic promoter of target shooting for those with disabilities.  When we wanted to have smallbore/airgun benchrest on offer to punters at the NRA Open Day in September, it was Andy who responded to my request for help, rounded up a group of like-minded souls, and got them all to turn up and run have-a-go sessions.  It was a great success, and I gather they all enjoyed it enormously. 

Having taken benchrest shooting under its NGB wing some time ago, the NSRA wanted to get to grips with the rules and regulations of the discipline, and to explore the possibility of harmonising them where possible.  Andy was one of the people who sat round the boardroom table and contributed his considerable knowledge, thoughtfulness and dry wit to the exercise. 

I haven’t known Andy that long, but in my personal dealings with him, I find he has a big heart that reaches out to anyone he may be able to help.  The way that he has tackled life from his wheelchair is something that everyone must admire and respect.  “Inspirational” is a word that has been on everyone’s lips this year; I think it definitely sums up Andy. 

At times like this the great sadness is mingled with that awful frustrating feeling that there really ought to be something one could do to help – but there isn’t.  If the medical profession can’t do anything to improve the status quo, then that’s it.  The rest of us are reduced to telling Andy how incredibly sorry we are and how much he’ll be missed, and telling each other what a dreadful loss it is to the sport.  We all feel very inadequate. 

Writing this feels a bit like doing an obituary for someone who actually still has a good many years to live.  To get away from that I’m trying very hard to find an up-beat to end on!  Andy himself has done so by taking to his blog with a sort of mini-autobiography.  Whatever the future holds for him, I’m sure that for a chap as kind, resourceful and talented as Andy, it will be a case of “down but not out”.

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