Wednesday, 29 February 2012

seeing the blind...

Today I spent the afternoon at a visually impaired shooting session at Helston and District Rifle Club with Joe Stinton, a thirty-seven-year-old man who lives in Helston, a small town outside of Falmouth. Unlike the majority of the shooters present today, Joe is completely blind. Despite this, he has been shooting since 1999, stopping only momentarily when his child was born. He has been selected twice to compete in the World Championships, and on Friday he will be joining the rest of the Helston team to compete at the British Blind Shooting Championship in Wolverhampton.

Joe relies on a laser fixed to the gun's barrel  to 'see'. The laser points towards the target, resulting in a high pitched noise to be relayed to the headset; the higher the pitch, the closer he is pointing to the centre of the target. Once all his shots are fired, the target is pulled back to the Joe via the rope and pulley system for inspection.   

There are two disciplines in blind shooting: Supported and Unsupported. Quite self-explanatory, Supported shooting is with the use of a tripod and a chair; Unsupported is with neither. Of course, shooting unsupported is far harder, and only Joe and one other shooter at the club are skilled enough to do it. 

Helper Kieth Busby acts as Joe's eyes when initially aiming the gun towards the target. After that, it is all down to Joe.

A perfect score of fifty. Joe gets five shots before the round is over; the bullseye is worth ten points. During the competition this weekend, however, the competitors will only have two shots per target, with thirty targets to hit under timed conditions. 

Joe is surprisingly efficient at manoeuvring, and only needs help when traversing larger distances and attempting tasks which require more dexterity than average.  

Joe celebrated his thirty-seventh birthday two days ago.

This was a fascinating shoot to say the least, and I think Joe is a brilliant guy. He was more than happy for me to be there and we are meeting again next week, at which time I plan to capture more of his day-to-day life. 


1 comment:

  1. Thank you very much for an excellent and inspiring piece. I'll put a link to it on our website in the hope that it will encourage others.
    Liz Woodall
    Disabled Shooting Project