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Old December 30, 2008, 05:45 PM   #1
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Training the handicapped ??

I have a question for some fellow firearms instructors. I have 2 people that want to take one of our defensive pistol classes, and they are confined to a wheelchair. Other than the basic shooting techniques, what are some drills and excersises that I can have them do from their wheelchair ? I am looking for some different ideas from some of you that have had some experience teaching handicapped shooters. any ideas and techniques would be appreciated. Thank you
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Old December 30, 2008, 08:09 PM   #2
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I can think of one really quickly.

Chair out of position in relation to the target. Also, target on opposite side of gunhand.

The limited mobility is going to decrease the manuverability of the student. This sounds like a real challenge. Also, look at having them shoot from out of the chair, on the ground. Often a chairbound person will find themselves in this position IRL.

You can also look at how they carry their reloads and have them do a lot of one handed drills because depending on the degree of disability, they may need to support themselves with one arm while they are on the ground, thus they would only have one hand/arm to use for firing.

I hope that helps. I'm not a trainer, but tried to think like a less manuverable person for a couple of minutes. Good luck and I'm interested to hear what you come up with.

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Old December 30, 2008, 11:47 PM   #3
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I'm an Adapted Physical Education Specialist for a large school district here in Texas. I work with students K-12 who have mental or physical disabilities that affect gross motor skills and performance in PE, their PE teachers and special ed teachers. I have a number of students that use a wheelchair.

A few observations:

1. Instead of using the terms "confined to a wheelchair" or "chairbound", just say "wheelchair user". While the difference may seem small to most of us or even an attempt at being politically correct, it is actually a more accurate description of their situation. Odds are, they aren't confined or bound- they just use a wheelchair while awake or for mobility. Many wheelchair users CAN stand or walk for limited periods.

2. Focus on what they CAN do- not what they CAN'T do. I'm sure they will be happy to tell or show you what they CAN do. I have students with Spina Bifida who believe they can do ANYTHING and everything- they just don't use their legs. Many wheelchair users have TREMENDOUS upper body strength- a benefit when firing a handgun.

3. Ask the student what do they foresee as a situation they would need to be trained in.

4. Put yourself in their shoes, so to speak. What do they need to know about defensive shooting from a seated position? There are similiar issues that affect the driver and passengers in a car. Drawing while seated is much different than while standing.

5. What techniques would be affected by a wheelchair? On an unlevel surface they roll unless the brake is applied. Applying the brake seems to be one technique that needs to be practiced while the other hand is drawing the firearm.

6. Concealment while in a wheelchair will definitely be an issue. Some may be able to carry IWB or OWB, while others may have physical conditions that prevent actually carrying the firearm on their person.

7. A large part of my job is modifying the class activity so my students can participate in a meaningful way. You don't have to invent something new- just modify what you already do. Ask yourself "what would I do if I were in a wheelchair?".
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Old December 31, 2008, 01:09 AM   #4
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I would suggest getting a wheelchair and actually doing the same stuff you usually teach from the weelchair. Thinking about how it would be is good, but actually doing it and experiencing it is great. You could learn a lot of good stuff so you'll be very prepared to instruct them. And with your own wheelchair you can demonstrate, and you'll be ready to take on additional handicapped students later on.

I wish I could help more, I'm not an instructor, I'm just a student . I think it's great that you're taking a proactive approach to instructing wheelchair users. BG's love to prey on the weak. That's why the handicapped and elderly are often sought out as easy targets.

The answers before me are both great. I can't wait to read more because I've never really given this much thought. It would be good information to have on hand. Accidents happen every day and if my legs were suddenly taken away from me my whole tactical outlook would change a lot.
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Old January 2, 2009, 09:43 AM   #5
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I appreciate the input so far. Anyone else have any ideas to share ? Thanks
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Old January 2, 2009, 12:21 PM   #6
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Tincup Al,

If I were writing the curriculum, I would make sure that the students had each learned:
  • how to draw safely & quickly (with either hand if both hands are functional)
  • how to perform a reload (or how to access the backup gun for a NY reload)
  • how to shoot the target while the wheelchair was at various angles to it
  • how to shoot from various distances and various angles (eg, not just "check all the angles" but "check all the angles at various distances")

We would also discuss, I think, one of the more common forms of attack against people in chairs -- where the criminal simply dumps the intended victim out of the chair at the beginning of the encounter. For that reason, I'd encourage my students to carry on-body rather than in-chair if at all possible, and I'd make sure they'd each had the experience of firing from the ground in various positions.

Hope some of that helps.

Kathy Jackson
My personal website: Cornered Cat
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