A family friend recently asked if I could help him with a shooting issue he was having. I had known for quite a while that his health had been poor and he had been in and out of the hospital. Though I didn’t know the details, I could tell this was something that had really been bothering him and that he was reaching out to me as a last resort.
He explained that for the past few years he had been suffering from a degenerative neuromuscular disease. As it had progressed, it had all but prevented him from being able to fire his defensive firearm. He was unable to pull the trigger without using two fingers (and even that was a struggle). Even loading magazines was too difficult. This new disability had left him feeling helpless and dependent on others for his and his family’s safety.
Disabled Shooting Challenges
Thinking about his situation, I imagined how I would feel if I were in his shoes. This man is a Vietnam veteran who has been a responsible firearms owner all his life, has trained and practiced his skills so he could protect his family from those who might want to harm them. Now he is faced with a disease that’s preventing him from doing all that.
I felt the need to help him but didn’t know where to begin. I told him to give me a few days and left him with this: “I won’t give up on you if you don’t give up on yourself.”
I immediately contacted a former student who is an orthopedic surgeon at a medical center in southern Indiana. He generously gave me some time out of his busy schedule to run through an in-depth explanation of the issues with this particular type of degenerative neuromuscular disease. After a little more research and information gathering, it was determined that my friend’s finger and hand muscles are fatiguing rapidly and preventing him from pulling the long, heavy trigger on his existing firearm.
I spoke to a few gunsmiths and found that the particular handgun my friend was using has a trigger that progressively stacked weight until the gun went bang. This particular gun reached a little over 12 pounds before it fired. Unfortunately, there are no viable aftermarket triggers for this gun, so I began researching other possible solutions.
I realized if the trigger was stacked heavier on the front end and lighter after that, it might allow his finger to avoid fatigue during the trigger stroke. After speaking to a few people about the range of adjustability in different guns, it was clear that a revolver was going to be the best solution for this situation. Not only would it solve the trigger issue, it also solved his problem of not being able to reload his own magazines.
My super-talented gunsmith, Jordan Jackson at Black Bullet Firearms, was able to do exactly what needed to be done with an S&W Model 442 revolver he had available. He did an excellent job on the gun and smoothed it out to where it stacked at the beginning and lightened up at the end. Due to donations from some very generous friends and family, we were able to gift the gun to this gentleman, ship it to his local FFL, and pay for the transfer.
When I returned from the NRA Annual Meetings, this card had been delivered to me. It says:
Friends, I am afraid many defensive firearms instructors have failed our elderly and disabled comrades. These potential students are not going to take a class where they have to complete an archaic FBI qualification course that requires people to shoot from kneeling at 25 yards. Many of these people would be hard-pressed to get to a kneeling position. And if they got there, getting up would be a real issue.
As instructors, it is our job to prepare them for self-defense within the constraints of their abilities. Not everyone needs to be trained to the standard of our FBI Special Agents. We don’t need to be putting shot timers on Grandma and telling her she has to kneel and shoot at implausible distances in 15 seconds. Does she fail if she does it in 16 seconds? That’s just absurd!
It is now abundantly clear to me that we are failing a large portion of our demographic. The baby boomers are getting older. Men and women are coming back from a decade of war. We have an obesity epidemic affecting a large percentage of our population. Do those people not deserve to be taught to defend themselves to the best of their abilities? Think about it. The self-defense industry as a whole seems to target 20- to 40-year olds, able to go rolling in the mud and complete FBI level tactical training.
Disabled shooting is not an oxymoron. If you are one of the many among that group of people—like me, who has the knees and back of an 80-year-old at the age of 37—you are not alone. You don’t have to feel vulnerable. Reach out to instructors who get it!
If I can help you, please feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Just because you’re not in peak physical condition doesn’t mean you have to be helpless. You can also find qualified instructors who want to help right here on the Personal Defense Network.
Hello. I am a disabled vet with a very very bad right hip. Extremely weak. I am right handed. Shot the M16A2 in the Army. New to hand guns. I got a Ruger LCP MAX 380. I want to know if you could give me advice on which of the five or so main standing shooting positions would be best…where my bad hip is on the same side of my body as my dominant hand. I read about placing my left leg a half step forward, and both feet about shoulder space apart. I am not sure. If you can’t help, perhaps send me a link?
PS there is actually a lot of recoil to this. I naturally put more weight on my left leg/hip to take pressure off my right leg/hip. So…balance is an issue as well. Thank you.
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To be honest, I haven’t read all the 130+ entries, but I do have a suggestion that appears to have been overlooked: Occupational therapist’s evaluation and management.
These professionals’ job description is evaluating one’s unique disabilities, then prescribing tools and training to accomplish whatever physical goals one wants, within the limits of what’s possible. Of course, the therapist must be sympathetic to firearms use, but most, regardless of how they feel, will make good analyses and give good advice. This sore of problem is right in the OT’s wheelhouse.
Thank you for writing about this. Being an RSO at a public range, I see a lot if issues that people have with limited mobility customers. Unfortunately more often than not, the gun store clerk just sells another DAO revolver to a person, who can’t operate it efficiently. I recently had to help my Aunt who lost her husband of over 50 years last year as she was concerned since they were the victims of a home invasion which scared her. She has arthritis which limits her hand strength and movement. Her husband had left a revolver which she couldn’t pull the trigger on. I went looking for the right firearm and it opened me up to another world I thought I was prepared for. I finally got her out to the range and found a good firearm for her to keep at the ready. There were some I thought for sure she would be able to shoot well and they proved to be not so good for one reason or another. She settled in very well with the SR22. 50 shots on paper and she was done for the day. It takes patience and thinking outside the box. Putting yourself in their shoes really helps. I used tape on my fingers to understand the limiting effects. Keep up the good work and I will look forward to keep reading!
It was so nice to read this article and see that someone is thinking about those of us who are no longer functioning at 100%. I had a fall off a ladder in 2010 onto concrete. I injured my cervical and lumbar spine in addition to shattering my left humerus. I have problems with balance related to the injuries and arthritic changes which just get worse with age and definitely create problems getting up and down. My grip strength is decreased due to peripheral neuropathy related to spinal injuries. It would be wonderful to have workshops that address physical issues and ways to overcome these and learn ways to compensate for physical losses. I am a retired psychiatrist who devoted much of my time to working with disabled veterans. For individuals with PTSD, the impairment in the ability to protect themselves and family can cause an increase in some symptoms of PTSD and these issues are certainly not addressed at the VA. In fact, veterans may be reluctant to even discuss any issues like this or secondary depression or anxiety for fear of losing the right to possess firearms legally. I applaud you for addressing these issues for the elderly and disabled, particularly for our veterans.
Thank you. As someone with a disability that’s getting worse, at times rapidly, I know what my limitations are. Adapting drills within the limits of my range of motion, gets me some funny looks at the range, until I explain why. It’s good to see some instructors finally getting the idea that adaptation isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and that it actually individualizes the instruction for the student, and in a way that allows them to keep their pride.
How I wish I could turn back the clock to when I was in peak physical condition, but wishing gets you nowhere, the reality is what we have to adjust too.
Thanks for an encouraging article.
Thanks. I’ve got the problem and would like to address firearm skills thar would benefit.
“BRAVO ZULU” to all at PDN for their service and vital assistance to the 2A community.
While not disabled at 84 yrs; that day may be my portion in the future. Gratifying to
realize options are available. GOD Bless you and the USA!!
I have als and have the same problem in the story . I have a good friend that is a gun smith and a veteran from Iraq and afghan he been helping me a lot with this problem . Hard when you are in a wheelchair . God bless are veterans
I had a stroke I’m paralyzed on one side I wanna lern to handle a firearm to protect myself
I’m disabled on my left side due to hemiplegia brought by a stroke. I’m in the Philippines.I used to be a combat shooter prior to that CVA.
I am an amputee, my right leg above the knee, i literally do not have a stance of any kind and the range i go to has no idea how to help me with this. i would love feedback on this pls. i shoot 2 Glocks the 21 45 and 19 40 . thank you for your time
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Thank you for what you did.
I approached the NRA a couple years back about handicap shooting and was told that any and all “accommodation” was at the discretion of the even provider and that no real teeth would be put in the rules. I have since stopped teaching courses and basically given up the fight as my health is my first concern.
I would like to thank you again for helping a person with a degenerative disease. Hopefully there will be more of you in the future of the NRA. Some of the strongest proponents of the Second Amendment are, today, suffering from war inflicted injuries and other maladies. I have ankylosing spondylitis with parts of my spine fused, so shooting a 3 or 4 position match or shooting for Expert and Distinguished Expert is no longer possible, yet there remains nothing from the NRA Shooting programs.
My sister will turn 77 in a month, she has bad hands, even a model 36 hurt her to shoot. I picked up a charter arms 7 shot 3” 32 H&R MAG., even with a hot load she has no problem and 2 extra rounds over the model 36.
I lost my right leg on the job , I sometimes use a wheel chair in the house, I use to carry my S&W 586,
Great article. I retired from The Federal Bureau of Prisons. I am 58 y/o. Have chronic lower back issues; and two knee replacements. Since my retirement. I have given much thought to (my physical limitations), and my ability to be able to protect my family if warranted. This article is great! I will focus on my strengths and abilities in continuing to improve my firearm skills, without having to feel I have to complete the strenuous course fire, when I was still working. Thanks You!
You mention having the knees and back of an 80 year old while you’re still in your thirties.
This sounds like an entire group of colleagues — the “Dinosaurs of EMS,” those EMTs and paramedics with knees and backs damaged from the Ferno type 30 ambulance cots: the Olympic Clean and Jerk was our stock in trade, hoisting patients of incredible tonnage from ground level to truckbed level, to get them into and out of the ambulance.
When you describe working with people of lessened abilities, I am listening with both eyes. I’ve been a nurse for nearly a quarter of a century now and I’ve been departmental firearms instructor for our local marshal’s office, and many’s the time I’ve wondered when I would be approached by someone asking for help with a disability, much as you’ve described.
Well done, sir, and carry on!
Capt. L. Keller, Past Acting Town Marshal, past Paramedic
Proud wearer of the T-shirt: “The older I get, the better I was!”
I’m in my seventies, and lack the overall strength, balance and hand strength that I had ten or fifteen years ago. I discovered that the Ruger LCR has a long, smooth trigger pull that is really much easier than most handguns that I’ve tried. I bought their 357 magnum so I can practice mostly with .38’s, but carry with 357 JHP’s.
Good informative article. I had polio years ago in my left arm – now 75 – and can only shoot 2 handed for limited amount of shots. Can’t shoot at all with the left hand alone. Mike Seeklander suggested a one handed method that works for me. This has allowed me to pass my CC class.
Gunsite Academy outside of Paulden, AZ now has pistol and carbine courses especially for “seasoned citizens.” My wife and I took the regular basic Defensive Pistol class (#250) a few years ago; Now that my wife has COPD and is on oxygen 24/7, we’re thinking about taking the Seasoned Citizen #250 course as a refresher. I hope other gun schools are adapting to us older folks who must also adapt to various impairments. Having a Smith 642 built for that Vietnam veteran was awesome; you deserve the thanks of every American for doing so.
S&W 380 EZ, mag loader. I have a bad shoulder.
What about doing an article for people in wheelchairs
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I lost my left arm two years ago lucky for me my right is my dominant although I’ve found at times having full extension still leaves me in a position of not full control of the firearm, Are there any tools, accessories that may help?
Hi James. There are none that we are aware of that would truly help. The one handed shooting position requires more time, effort, and energy to control recoil as well as align the sights when they are needed. Your best bet is to continue practicing one handed shooting and manipulations to increase your comfort and strength in that position. Another potential thing you could do to improve your one handed shooting skills are grip and other strength exercises.
Deryck-Personal Defense Network
Great article. The population is aging (as am I). I’m a 68 year old NRA Instructor and I work with a lot of older people who just can’t get around like they used to and that includes me.. I like to work a lot on getting the gun out and properly on target with the first shots on target. This we can do, but reloading while on the run, taking shots longer than 10 yards, doing a lot of moving around is just not possible for a lot of us. We can certainly do the basics and do them well, I appreciate this analysis.
Great, Great Article I fall into this demographic (72, with various health issues). I am currently a NRA Chief Range Safety Officer but will soon not be able to hold any classes. However, I believe there is a large market of individuals who need additional training on personal protection and home defensive practices that is truly missing. If you look at who the manufactures market’s their gear and hardware to (22-45) you would think the over 50 population didn’t exist. This year alone I have spent over $3k on Firearms and Assessories, The Disable and The Aging Shooters can a lucrative training venue.
Thank you for recognizing the issue many of us have! I am losing mobility and am forced to use a walker everywhere. I feel like I have a target on my chest and back. I must use both arms/hands to remain standing and while I carry a KelTec 32 in the carrying pouches on the walker I would be hard pressed to get it out in a hurry. I feel like my best defense is situational awareness so I don’t get into a situation where I will need to display. Sometimes I wonder if I should carry open to show I am armed?
I am not a professional, but please do not switch to open carry as this could cause you to become a target. If you can do loose clothing, maybe a chest rig with a small to medium tool. Try to think outside the box with regards to concealment. On person is always the safest for you and others. Open carry gets attention you don’t need.
My daughter likes to shoot but only has use of one hand due to cerebral palsy leaving her right side almost useless she would never be able to complete a typical skill run same if a non disabled person with a broken arm tried to run through a skill set.
Thank you so much for validating this issue. I am a disabled vet who loves to shoot.
I am not there yet, but with continually achy and stiff joints (especially my fingers) I can not perform like I did at 60 (72 now). It is good to know that this is now being discussed. Hopefully I will not get to the stage where I can not securely hold a gun and pull the trigger, but time will tell.
Mr. Gideon, your article is thoughtful and timely. I am an NRA certified instructor and I am 61 years old. I have a physically active job, with the body of working construction my whole life. I recently broke my leg, and it has given a new view of the difficulties many of us face. Thank you again. I will tailor my efforts and training with your article prominently on the agenda.
I got my LTC before I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s. Now I can’t pull the trigger on my Glock, can’t load the magazine, and can’t pull the slide back. Maybe I need to work with a revolver like your article suggested.
At 60, I am lucky to have good hand function and as a 1911 user I’ll stay with that as my primary weapon; BUT. My knees are toast, so mobility is indeed a challenge for me, as well as having problems where if I stand too long I can black out, and other issues. My chances of running away from a potential fight are rather low, I fortunately am a large strong guy so chances are low I’ll be attacked, but I’d think I could come upon a woman being predated upon – So I carry most of the time. I am glad you’re thinking on this subject, I had a disabled GF at one time who had an attendant “flip out” on her and get quite odd in his behavior; That was not a fun week at all. Loaned her a .380 ACP that worked well for her, I’d set it up super accurate if not super powerful. He, fortunately, chilled out and never tried anything like kicking the door in, but that WAS a concern at the time. A high-capacity autoloader might be an alternative, IF the mag capacity is enough, trigger is low enough pull that they can use it – And it’d help if a friend or family can load mags for them. (RIght now I’d HAPPILY reload someones’ mags, if they had a good place to shoot and could help motivate me to get there and shoot. Pain can really de-motivate you.) I had a lot of training many years ago with a local school, that is ALWAYS a good idea, understanding the laws and how to do self-defense other than just the pulling the trigger is a VERY good idea, definitely, so you have a low chance of legal problems!
I am so glad to see a professional recognizing and attempting to address this issue. My right leg is amputated below the knee and the front half of my left foot is also missing. Long story short, no toes and absolutely no balance, and have to walk with a cane to maintain what little balance I have. When shooting from a standing position I have only found two solutions, neither exactly ideal. 1) Drop my cane and lean up against something. Works OK, but if I needed to move to address additional threats I would be fumbling to retrieve my cane from the floor. 2) Shoot one handed. Accuracy with this is abysmal and if you can’t hit your target the firearm is useless. Having been a SWAT marksman as a much younger man the whole situation drives me nuts! Having assisted with training on the range while I was still in uniform I would love the opportunity to work with professional instructors to work out solutions for myself and other disabled people.
I am a 77year old disabled in the line of duty Law enforcement officer. I fine it harder to practice the form of defense training I practiced for years both firearms ,and physical defense I need help .
I have the same issues as your friend, which prevented me from shooting my beloved 1911. I went to a revolver, a Smith and Wesson model 60, using 38 special ammunition Instead of the more powerful 357 magnum. I found the trigger pull was still somewhat difficult so I sent The firearm to Smith and Wesson explaining my problem. They made adjustments to the trigger pull that now make it possible for me to accurately shoot
Excellent article! I’m in my mid-80’s and have some problems with arthritis and need a walker. Thanks for the info!
I have 43 years experience as a disabled shooter.
article on target. also have issues w/arthritic and nerve problems in hands. as an armourer the trigger work done on the 442 is the corret solution. if no gunsmith is available the rug lcr has the same trigger feel as the custom 442
I have a brother who is a quadrapaligic and wants to shoot a pistol. We have mounts for his shotgun and crossbow but not sure where to start for pistols. Any ideas?
Hi Steve. PDN Contributor Jake Romo is a disabled veteran who specializes in teaching techniques to those in wheel chairs and other physical limitations. He can be contacted through his company website here: http://www.whiterabbitprotection.com/Contact.htm
Ticket I have a brother who now suffering from left-side stroke years ago but would love to defend self with his .45 handgun if not with his disability. Any suggestions/recommendations for him?
Hi Clarisa. If the left hand/arm is immobile then training one handed shooting with the right hand. A switch to a 9mm would also be beneficial given the lower recoil compared to a 45ACP. Finally, a full or fuller framed gun will also help with recoil management. Check out these PDN links for more information on what was mentioned above.
I’m disabled due to a brain hemorrhage I had in 1994. I am hemiplegic which, in my case, means my left side is paralyzed and numb. I shoot well one handed, but loading magazines and doing combat reloads and that sort of thing are problematic. Any tips on devices to help me load magazines and change them during firing, range or gun fight, would be appreciated.
I am disabled myself due to my military service. It is a challenge to do some drills, although I completed the MAG 40 Course and continue to train to the best of my ability. MAJ Chuck Smick, IN, ABN, USAR
Man thans from Europe forum your inspringen article.
As YouTube Will knowhow gun las arena mocht morele severe than in the Us. Button a bullet Firefox by a as puck as possible trainend person is even deadly as a bullet fired by a non disabled person.
I live in Tyler,TX. I am a retired 67sinmgle gentleman, that because of health, it’s very hard to walk long distances, and have some limited fine motor skills in my thumbs. I am in the process of purchasing a 38 special revolver, and want to get my CCL. I live on a very small monthly income, so any help in obtaining the training, and Lic, would be of great help.
A stroke slowed me down. I lost my right (dominate) side. I have tried the NRA but instructors are hard to find. Newcastle, Oklahoma.
Refreshing to see someone address limited abilities techniques and solutions. It would be nice to see this also addressed in gun reviews to help identify potential firearms that may be suitable. I have learned any 20 something and many professional shooters reviews that mention stuff like manageable recoil means my old arthritic shoulders will not like that firearm. I am not shooting a self defense pistol at 25 or 50 yard targets, more like 5 to 15 which is everywhere inside the house. My 40 cal was traded when I almost lost control of the recoil, not interested in 10mm or any magnum rounds. My range of consideration is 22, 380, 9mm, and surprisingly still can handle some 45 since it recoils more a hard push than slam. Except for 22 target pistol, larger caliber are in larger gun to mitigate recoil. I also learned that when aim wanders due to less than steady muscle, you can “lead” the bullseye and fire when you cross it, like hitting a moving target even though the mover is reverse. If compact 9 becomes too hard for home defense, I may graduate to a pistol caliber carbine for point shoot and low recoil. Thank you for addressing the self defense needs of the most vulnerable.
As a thirty year NRA certified instructor, I have always reached out to women, disabled, and older students. I felt it was my job to educate anyone that wanted to protect themselves and their family! I have never had to fail anyone of the folks I mentioned.
God bless you for this article.
Thank you for this. I am 78 years old and in pretty good physical condition, but I am, and have been all my life, visually impaired. I have had instructors black out the white dots on my pistol’s sights, making them invisible against a black target. None have ever made any effort to suggest sights that are easier for me to see. I cannot be alone in this. I hope your article will alert instructors to this issue.
This is a very interesting article. I have mobility problem myself.
Thanks for this article as I’m a retired disabled veteran.
I too am also disabled.I am 64 years old,have diabetes,have had a stroke,and can only walk with help and a cane.My wife own’s a 14 shot .45.I live in the Philippines.I am an American citizen.
I too[,am disabled. i have diabetes,and have had a stroke,i can only walk with help and a cane.Can you help me?I live in the Philippines.
Thank you their are a lot people like me that are disabled and would love some training.
Great article and great insight for these shooters.
I used to drink and did not feel that I had any business around firearms. Well after I was disabled, I quit drinking and then got into firearms. I feel that as I am older and my wife, family and grandchildren, may need protection even more than before. I do not want to be a target, I have researched on my own about firearms, but even .380 and Mak are a pain in my arthritic wrists. I can not get down on either of my knees and prone means I may take a while to get back up. A person has to realize thier limitations and figure out the best way for themselves. We all need practice and if we are ever a “shall issue” county, I will discuss with a trainer. At this point in life, I can have these loaded and ready on my own property, or at the range. Carrying is a no-no, so I will not unless we have a riot or breakdown of society.
A personal hand written card. The hand used a fountain pen od some writing instrument. I could be wrong. With an instrument that has a textured tip or flexable massed produced utinsile
Hard to operate semi-auto bra wheel guns which should we try to put our time and money into the high capisity semi-autos or the limited wheel guns and what cal. Is best to chase
This gets me so often! I have great difficulty in may ways dealing with birth defects plus being far less than two handed. Add for the last 15 years with neurological problems that just make things more dangerous and difficult to handle any gun. As such I refuse to have a hand gun without an external select safety and therefore must also restrict my choices to very few guns. Problems racking and gripping with my only good hand which has much harder and thicker muscles than average which effects aim. Virtually no second hand to brace with. In addition with Stiff Person’s Disease where I carry along and with lack of reach and use of the bad hand only allow me to effectively carry appendix. Yet with all these problems and years of study and practice these problems have been overcome. However when I say what works for me so many say; you’re gonna die if you try to draw and shoot. They just can’t except “one size doesn’t fit all”. I have the safety to get the gun holstered, then switch it off while holstered and the safety has never changed. I can draw to fire on aim in no more than 3/4 second. Not bad at all! I am accurate. I draw many times a day and am always armed even at home, mobility problems require this. – I’ve been the victim. – Most everything other than what I have does not work for me. I am very small yet manage to carry defense spray because so many times drawing a gun would not be reasonable. I have one knife that fits the bad hand and one for the good hand, both draw as fast as the gun. AND I WALK WITH ONE AND TWO CANES besides use a power chair and shopping scooters. Decades of study. trial and error.
Hunter “Nubs” Cayll, The No Handed Shooter : Firearms
Check this out.
I shot with this guy one day at a 3gun competition in Tn.
“Nubs the no handed shooter”
Great discussion and we need more of this . I’m fully disabled after breaking my back 10 years ago . I have a CHL and I practice often . Because I’m disabled my handgun is the only way I can protect my wife and myself .
Bravo!!!!! Thank you for everything you’ve done; but thank you also for opening our eyes to the needs of our disabled fellow shooters! You are so spot on! With trainers like you, the disabled will not be easy prey to an attacker!
I couldn’t agree more. My wife had a stroke at 36 (2 years ago) and lost use of her left arm. She had never fired a gun until after her stroke. We recently attended a concealed carry course. Not only did she impress me, she impressed all 3 instructors. Yes, she was bullheaded at times but I continued to work with her helping her to adapt on loading and firing a handgun. Just bought her first 9mm and she is anxious to take it to the range.
I think I created a monster.
that was very nice for these folks to help this Vet out with his trigger problem. i am a Marine Vet but thank God i can still shoot. can’t scoot like i used to, but shooting help for the disabled is VERY important.
Great article, I have had back surgery. I have to use a bar height stool to shoot, I would love to have some information on seated shooting.
At 68, modifying stances and less mobility should have more articles and discussions. Thanks
I feel his pain. My duty weapon was a Beretta 92F then a Glock 22. Now I’m 70 and both shoulders, knees and back are bad. I’ve trimmed down to a Glock 23 and a Glock 30sf. My daily carry is an 8 shot Ruger LCR 22, 8 shot. I no longer run to the fray, I make noise and fire a few getting away from the danger. Good article.
I just read your article on “Disabled Shooting” . Do you know any instructors in Phoenix area ?
This discussion has helped me greatly. I have peripheral neurapathy as was concerned I do not use my 9 mm XD any longer. it just became to difficult to use. i not restrict myself to a smaller Walther P22 and my Taurus 38 and its fine. y lever action rifles are no problem. But as this illness progresses i will have to adapt even more until I can no longer shoot.
I became disabled many years ago and lost my guns pay for debt from Medical bills and
Now live in a bad area and can’t afford to pay for a new gun do you have any idea how to defend myself? The best way to contact me is by phone 530-646-5638
This was a very good article. I will start to develop courses for the elderly and disabled.
thank you sooo much for this article. i am in the exact same position.
most all, including PDN, teach movement, running thru kill houses and generally jumping around. that leaves my demographic out in the cold. wish to see more instructors in wheelchairs!
while a very good article,
your thread responses is where
you really shined nicely, J.G..!!
As more and more feedback
about what the self defense public needs,
there should be increased offerings
by the instruction side to help
on a more individualized basis… hint hint PDN.
Thanks for sharing would welcome any self defense info you may have.
Do you have Rifle Shooting in West Sussex for the Disabled wth Pelletts ?
This is the first article I read as a new member. I myself am disabled to the point of having great difficulty in handling,load,cleaning,etc of my firearms. It made me very proud to have joined when I read about what you and others have done to help this man regain the ability to defend himself and his family! So,Thank you..I am glad to be here..Jon Lutes (Ninetoes)
Welcome Jonathan! So glad to have you here! I think the key is to look beyond disabilities and find what we can do. As Grant Cunningham (Host of PDN Training Talk) says, “Don’t let what you can’t do get in the way of what you can do.” Thanks again for joining and especially for the feedback!
I am an amputee and a shooter. I’ve designed, manufacture, and sell a magazine loader which allows me to load my own magazines without help.
If you have interest I can email a link to a short YouTube video.
Thanks in advance.
Hi Tim..I’d like to see your video on the loader..Havasujon@gmail.com
As a N.R.A. Instructor, I’ve trained people in wheelchairs, using walkers. My greatest challenge is giving a class to an almost blind friend.
Bob has gone totally blind. He was shooting with an adaptive sports program in New Hampshire, however the program was cancelled.He would love to take a class. Also needs instruction in the use of a “Scatt” system, (which produces audbile tones) as the learning curve for the device proved too steep for beginners like us. Thanks for any ino. Barb Bongiovanni for Bob Bongiovanni. PS-We’re in Maine.
Outstanding!!! I’m in the same boat as you. Thank you for you insights, great article.
Thanks for realizing and acknowledging the needs of seniors. The added benefit for trainers: us old folks have managed to accumulate enough money to be able to afford your services.
In 1994 I had a brain hemorrhage that left me hemiplegic which, in my case, means my left side is paralyzed and numb. My right side is normal. I, obviously, have to shoot one-handed and loading a magazine is problematic, at best. I just shot the Texas Licence to Carry proficiency test with my Dan Wesson Model 15-2 357 Magnum revolver with a 4″ barrel and a medium sleeve. I was one point below the perfect score achievable, so you can see I know how to shoot. Oh, I was also using a brand new stance. Instead of the classic marksman stance I used an isosceles triangle stance without a support hand. Because my Dan Wesson is a bit heavy and bulky for concealed carry my plan for concealed carry, once my license arrives, is to carry a much smaller, slimmer S&W M&P Shield 9 mm. Since I’ll be carrying a second loaded magazine, this will give me more rounds than the revolver, too. Though tactical reloads will be a bit slow. Any advice on training, magazine reloading one-handed, or any other appropriate subject will be graciously accepted. Thank you.
Michael, great question! There is a great article written by Michael Seeklander right here on PDN that talks about one handed reloads. I’ll post the link below. Your choice of the M&P Shield is a great one for one handed shooters since you have the option of using the I.C.E. Claw Rear sight from Ameriglo. (The model number of the shield is SW-450R) I use the same rear sight on my Shield specifically for the flexibility of better one handed manipulation. On mine, I pair the I.C.E. Claw rear sight with the Ameriglo Lime Square front sight (SW-212-GR-Q). You can purchase the sight on the Ameriglo website (http://www.ameriglo.com) Thanks again for your question!
Your description of your self is my problem also. Arthritic knees and a bad lower back, Siatica. When I was younger I had some training like you describe but there’s no way I could do it now.
There are a few of us that have realized this and are putting together classes catered to those with issues like this. Thank you for your comments!
Kudos for addressing this. I had recently messaged Grant Cunningham about that very issue. I’m a recently retired Army officer with combat arms background rated 100% disabled by the VA. I’m still able to do most things well enough, but running away from a threat is no longer an option. Heck, walking away won’t even work if the threat is mobile. Far more emphasis needs to be put on self defense options for the disabled and it would be directly applicable to the fit as they can become (temporarily) disabled in an instant. Weapons, tactics, and legal issues specific to the disabled defense posture should all be addressed by trainers. There’s a virtually untapped well of opportunity here.
Thank you for your service. I totally agree and I am working on this very thing!
I am a 76 year old retired member of the NY City Transit Police department that retired with a line of duty spinal injury well after three spinal surgeries there is a problem with development of Artritis and there in lies my problem of qualifying for my HR218 carry permit the arthritis in my hands makes it difficult to properly handle my weapons and loafing my weapons to qualify in a rapid or time challenge shoot is there or are there any qualified instructors that I may contact.
Albert, I’m not sure of anyone specifically in the New York area. I know Evan Carson and Ian Strimbeck are a few hours away from you and are great instructors. Both are PDN contributors as well. http://www.personaldefensenetwork.com/contributors/
I’m glad that you are doing something for us disabled. I have been disabled since 1968 tho I am not complaining. I have noticed that I am getting a little slower but so far I can still shoot my glock 43 with no problem. Luckily I didn’t have to do the kneeling part of the firing to get my CCW. As more and more of us get older our numbers are going to grow and we still want to be able to protect ourselves and family so these programs you make help us. Thank You.
Thank you! I agree!
I am 56 years old retired law enforcement, need your input on shooting, Do you have any ideas too shoot better without wearing eyeglasses. As i age my eyes are not getting better, i have problems shooting from the 15 yard line, any suggestions i would greatly appreciate. Thank you….
Rich, thanks for the question! The first step (software) is to learn Intuitive Sighted Fire. This will put as many cards in your favor as possible. This method is ideal for those with aging eyes. We also have to ensure that we are on the same page when it comes to what accuracy means to us if we are forced to stop someone with our firearm. Accuracy is a yes or no proposition. Your accuracy goal is making hits the size of a paper plate in high center chest. If you are doing that, you are accurate for the purpose of using a firearm for self defense. From there we can talk about the hardware side. On this side, I recommend a highly visible (Green, Yellow, or Lime colored) front sight with a wide blacked out rear sight. Rob does an excellent job explaining why in this video: http://www.personaldefensenetwork.com/video/handgun-training-pistol-sight-design-breakdown-005437/ At some point (varies from person to person) you are going to get to a distance where vision correction is necessary. For me at 37 years old with poor vision, it’s about that 15 yard mark. I am accurate up to that point without vision correction (in my case contacts), but after that, I must use the hardware available to me to compensate. I view contacts the same as good sights on my firearm. I hope this helps and thank you for your question!
Thank you so much for the enlightenment on hand gun defense for those of us who have either temporary or life long disabilities. I am 78 years of age, a veteran of the US Army, and have been in good shape most all of my life until recently. I am recovering from a somewhat major operation of my knee and have found that my motor muscular systems have been negatively effected negatively. I have felt extremely vulnerable since this occurrence and have experienced trouble handling my firearm safely and efficiently. I am now able to drive locally but have felt very uneasy when struggling to get into and out of the car with the help of my cane. In short terms; I feel like a sitting duck on the opening of duck season. Any training that I can garner will help immensely. I will continue to watch for future training sessions on this subject matter in order that I feel more confident and ready to defend myself if / when necessary.
Thank you for your service Dan! It is so hard for those who have been in good shape to go from feeling confident to feeling vulnerable due to injuries, surgery, or parts just wearing out. Typically it’s something out of their control that puts them in the place where they lose confidence in their ability to defend themselves. That can be extremely frustrating. As an instructor, it’s our job to help you get that confidence back by teaching you efficient techniques that work with your specific limitations. I’m sure there will be more information on this topic in the future.
It’s about time someone actually realized that some shooting instructors are failing the very students who need the training and personal instruction. The elderly are the most prayed upon by society’s criminal element and some instructors blow them off of give them bull instead of doing what they should be doing, which is giving the help and good instruction they need that is geared to their age and physical needs. I’m now retired from law enforcement, but I have seen my share of so called shooting instructors who don’t seem to know how to be good instructors to all their students, young and old.
Thank you for your comments and thank you for your law enforcement service. Your comments are spot on! I am still amazed that others don’t see the same thing we see. It seems so clear. I am afraid many instructors do see it, but only want to teach high speed tactical classes to young twenty somethings. To them, it’s not as cool to teach the aging and disabled. It’s a shame. To me, a good instructor is a teacher that has the knowledge to find the capability of their students and the experience to guide them to the next level. Regardless of their age and limitations. Seek out those good instructors and reward them with taking one of their classes. Thank you again for your comments!
I got to hand it to you for not giving up on him. Alot of instructors would’ve just told him to stop carrying thst gun if you can’t shoot it anymore. But you helped him get a gun that ge can still usr. Good job if you ever run for office you’ll get my vote.
Thank you! You are right, many instructors would have told him to stop carrying a gun. Sadly many instructors out there are too focused on making a quick easy dollar than helping students. Dealing with the aging and disabled isn’t easy. It’s hard work. We need more instructors that care about their students and are motivated by students who can walk (or roll) away from their classes with the skills they need to win a fight. There is nothing more satisfying to me as an instructor to watch someone who had given up do things they didn’t think they could do.
P.S. Oh, wow, I don’t think the world is ready for me being in any office! But thanks for the confidence! I’d love to have you in a class instead!
Thanks for a good article that highlights the disabled and our difficulties with carrying and shooting . I’ve had 18 spine surgeries over years leaving me with limited mobility like many others . I conceal carry a Walther PPK/s in 380. I’ve found that the key for elderly and disabled individuals is to match the individual with a pistol they can comfortably carry and shoot . I’m a firm believer that if one carrys you need to regularly practice . So a key for myself was to choose a pistol I can shoot often without causing extra pain or injury to my back . I’d encourage elderly and disabled shooters to find a way to try a number of different pistols to find what will fit them and their abilities , just like you did for your friend in the article . Thanks for bringing our needs to the public awareness .
Selecting a gun that fits well to the hand and does not have excessive recoil is an important part. I’ve also found that some target shooting based techniques can cause unnecessary pain as well. Putting both technique and a gun that fits well with manageable recoil is a huge piece of the puzzle. Thank you for your comments!
Thank you for your valuable article and for helping those who need some creative problem solving to stay in the game. I am an NRA certified instructor and have helped many people who are older or have physical limitations but want to be able to enjoy shooting sports or be prepared to protect themselves with a firearm if need be. I’ve been told that my patience and understanding have made learning enjoyable and rewarding. It is probably most rewarding for me as I love to help empower others to go for it. Not all of us are 20 somethings at our prime anymore and having battled a very painful neurological condition for years I have great empathy for others. Any instructor who passes on helping those who are not able to roll in the mud is losing out on a very mutually rewarding opportunity. Many students have incredible life experience from serving their country as part of our great military or as responsible and productive citizens (not mutually exclusive) and I always feel honored to be able to help teach techniques. I have wanted to formalize what I am doing into a dedicated class to encourage more responsible civilians who want to learn but feel intimidated by the idea to come on out and go for it. I always like to bring a number of handguns so that students can try on not only calibers but different firearms as we know they all are unique. I would love to email ideas back and forth if you are interested. Thanks again for your help and advice.
PS my day job is being a forensic scientist which is almost as fun as a day at the range. (No bodies for me thankfully.)
I think it’s a great idea. Please locate a disabled weapons trainer and someone who can help with the trigger pull weighting a pistol of any make. I am disabled and have a very low ability to cock my pistol or pull the trigger. I wind up with a huge jerk factor. Any help you can lend would be greatly appreciated. Thank you. When I got my pistol I could hit the bullseye. Though I would never be able to hit my knees anymore. Oh, I live in NE Texas, near Greenville, Texas. Where I am might help. LOL. I really appreciate this article and the comments after.
Mary, boy are you lucky! You have a great instructor in your back yard! Aaron Israel is a Combat Focus Shooting Instructor as well as a PDN contributor. I am certain he can help you. Here is a link to his information: http://www.personaldefensenetwork.com/contributors/#AaronIsrael
I live in Plano, which isn’t that far from Greenville, TX. I am 31 years old and I’ve have a disability since birth. I totally get what you’re saying. I believe there’s an attachment you can buy to cock your firearm. If you find a trainer, please let me know.
Tim, check out Aaron Israel at the link above. He is one of the best instructors in your area. I spoke with him last night about this very topic.
Just be careful with some of the gadgets that are supposed to help you. Some of the issues that the gadgets attempt to fix can be solved with proper technique. Also, some of the gadgets can be harder to use too. What I have found in many cases is once the student learns an efficient technique that works with their disability, many of the gadgets are no longer needed. Software first, then hardware.
Finally, somebody who gets it. I read SMG Kyle Lamb’s shooting drill articles and say to myself “These drills will kill me before an intruder can”. I suffer from peripheral neuropathy and back problems. Two rounds of trap almost leave me in traction.
I really hate that it is rare for someone to get this. It shouldn’t be that way. But I am glad people are starting to see this need! I have worked with several people with peripheral neuropathy issues. One lady had severe numbness in her shooting hand but we were still able to get her shooting combat accurate at plausible distances. She was so tickled, I’ll never forget that. Thank you so much for the comments!
I am gun.na chair.how is the best way to carry my
Paul, check some of the other replies where I’ve given some suggestions on this. Also, check out this video, I think it should answer your questions. http://www.personaldefensenetwork.com/video/mindset-for-wheelchair-self-defense-005352/
I think I’ve pretty well got the kinds of arthritic disabilities that handicap my shooting: (first) the hands — arthritis in the web between thumb and finger, pinched nerve that numbs my “pinching” of thumb to forefinger, and finally, the carpal tunnel syndrome that negates how well I can pull the trigger. (second) my wrists are too weak to control a lot of recoil. (third) arthritic shoulders so I don’t have flexibility in my draw motions. (fourth) knees and hips and feet make it impossible to do the quick “tactical” footwork advertised in all the drills. Basically — I’m a mess!
Yes, I support any kind of training directed SPECIFICALLY to the handicapped and elderly. I would also like to know where I can find a single action, quadruple safety, 1 lb trigger pull, .38 or .380 ammo (or better), and draws thru a holdout that snaps it directly into my hand, thus avoiding concealment, tactical kneeling, and contortioning to my side. Think, and shoot!!!! I also want to know where I can buy a bridge into Brooklyn.
Thank you for your comments! What I have found is most of the people I have encountered with disabilities have underestimated what they can do. When working with them one-on-one they are typically surprised that they can still get combat accurate hits at plausible distances with just a few changes to their technique and a little out of the box thinking sometimes. The training is a bit hard to find, but there are good instructors out there with this skill that are excited to help!
I am 81. I have a weakness in my hands. I have great difficulty with my 9mmTaurus. I got a s&w mp EZ and I have no problem racking it and loading the magazines. I. Recommend it highly.
Thank you Mr Gideon for writing about this topic! I am a Disabled Army Vet(1979-91-Army Special operations command-Aviation-160th SOAR from 1/82 6/91 when I got out). I have a back that was broken in 7 places, took an AK74 round in my upper back, and broke my ankle in 5 places, which was reconstructed. I actually got to stay in after that( I went to the 160ths reserve component as an instructor)
Because of my back injury, diabetes, and Kidney failure I have various issues with feeling, and balance. I am blessed with a wonderful wife and a great Bulldogge.
I have been doing well enough to keep shooting, and my wife and I compete in 22 challenge, and Steel challenge center fire.
My wife has arthritis and carpal tunnel, and shoots an EAA Witness Pavona 9, and I have a great Gunsmith who made me a modified recoil spring for my Beretta M9, my Colt Commander, and my Ruger LC9S and SR9 & 9C.
What training drills do you suggest for Disabled persons?
Dr Bill Chachkes-Firearms Chat Podcast Producer/Lead host
CWO-4 US Army Aviation Branch/Special Operations Command 1979-1991 Ret./Med.
First, thank you for your service and sacrifices. As far as drills for disabled persons, I believe many of the same command based drills that are used in the Combat Focused Shooting Program are great drills for anyone (especially the disabled). A simple balance of speed and precision drill from concealment is a great place to start. The balance of speed and precision drill is great because it can be used as a training tool when simulating being dumped from a wheelchair or shooting one handed while using a cane for support. The key is using principles of intuitive sighted fire and kinesthetic alignment to help compensate for some of the issues those with arthritis, aging eyes, and mobility have. It is important to get the assistance of a good instructor who can show you the most efficient way to do the drills and help you find efficient compromises (if any are needed). Rob has a good video on this here: http://www.personaldefensenetwork.com/video/training-versus-practice-011542/ Once you know the drills and know how to do them, then practice, practice, practice!
Handicapped by two strokes, I would like to see a CD aimed at the different types of handicaps and the ways to enhance firearm skills. I realize there are a myriad of types of handicaps but the problem could be addressed by a multiple CD set covering the most frequent types.
A video is not a bad idea. I will mention that although a video like the ones on PDN are great, it is many times better to have an instructor that can help diagnose and fix the things you don’t see yourself doing. I do love videos to reinforce the training I’ve received and keep that information fresh in my mind. Great idea and I will pass that along!
i agree about live instruction being better. however the video might enlighten the lost and uninformed to see some has thought about them leading to them to seek out live training. just a thought and thank you.
After coming out of the hospital from Vietnam I had to learn to walk all over again and I made a fairly full recovery but when I hit 50 in everything came crashing down. 15 years later I have to rely on my wheelchair to get around and because my back is in such bad shape it’s very difficult to carry concealed. I have a glock 22 that I really love but it’s very hard to figure a way to hide it and still be able to access it quickly. I drop things a lot and have very little feeling in my hands but I’m a great shot. I’ve been attacked 2 different occasions and because I didn’t carry my Glock I was defenceless. Any ideas, by the way I loved your article. I find most people shy away from you when your in a wheelchair.
There are a few carry options I like for people in wheelchairs. The one thing I caution is to not be tempted to carry off body. You want to have that firearm on you even if the bad guy dumps you out of your wheelchair. My absolute favorite is a belly band like the one Crossbreed sells (http://www.crossbreedholsters.com/HotcakesStore/ProductViewer/tabid/113/slug/Modular-Belly-Bands/Default.aspx). You can adjust it so it rides a bit higher and is more comfortable for a long day of wearing your firearm. Because it has the Kydex shell, you can easily re-holster it. Because it can be moved around, you can carry it on the strong side or even, dare I say, cross-draw. Another option is a fanny pack that has a concealed holster option. Now I will caution with that option that you make sure the holster covers the trigger properly. Most have velcro holsters, so you could always use the kydex shell in the Crossbreed belly band in place of the soft shell in most concealed carry fanny packs. Check those options out and shoot me an e-mail to let me know how they work out for you!
P.S. Thank you for your Service!
Hi Gregory, I have many of same problems and wife and I are both in wheelchairs. For concealed carry I use a Glock 43 in a Custom Kydex holster on right side and tilted to front so can cross draw as I am left handed. My wife does same thing except hers in mounted on left side tilted forward for cross draw with right hand. They both work very well for us. She uses a S&W 380 EZ. We have never had to draw weapon for defense, but we practice a lot. And darn it she can shoot rings around me. lol
I enjoyed your article, and at the age of 76 rapidly approaching my 77th, I am attempting to master the handgun after many years of rifle and shotgun hunting and shooting. I have a concealed carry license (IL,FL, & Utah) and would be very interested in locating a concealed carry instructor who’s attention would be on working with disabled and elderly individuals to improve their ability to defend themselves with a handgun.
I am working with an ADA compliant range in Central Indiana. If you are nearby, I’d love to have you in one of my classes! Feel free to visit my website at http://www.nosofttargets.com or e-mail at the address posted in the article. Thank you for your comments!
I’ve been working on my own issues for many years. I’d be delighted to jump in where I can, and contribute in any way. Thank You, for recognizing the “black hole” that most of us will find ourselves in, but too proud to do anything about! God Bless!
Thank you for the comments! The best way to contribute is to let others know that you have struggled with the same issues and they are not alone. Then encourage them to seek out instructors that are capable of teaching them. We are out there and excited to teach them!
This is a great article. Guns can be great self-defense tools for elderly or disabled people–really, how else are they going to defend themselves? But there are definite challenges for those folks.
Thank you John!
I wish there was a “thumbs up” option on the discussion section; but in lieu of that, I will just have to “reply” “right on! Bro!”
Thank you. I’m a female 70yoa Vietnam era Marine. I use a wheelchair y have less than optimal hand strength. I too have been trying to come up with a solution to protecting my family y self. I am thankful that someone is starting to think about those of us that are not as young, strong y healthy as we once where.
Just watch out if you use your gun to defend yourself.
And if you must use it to defend yourself.
NEVER, NEVER talk with the police. Until you have a lawyer with you.
You can be 100% in the right. And still, end up in jail. For talking to much. To 5-0.
know your rights & use them.
Your article is spot on. I imagine it would be surprising to learn the number of people who are not able to go through a standard regimen of training due to health and physical reasons. You are addressing a niche that no doubt will require lots of learning for instructors as well as for students. Thanks for a well-written article.
Thank you Ken!
I was fortunate enough to have taken some of the training from this author. In the class I attended was an elderly woman who had recently lost her husband. She wanted to be able to protect herself and had reached out to Joshua for some training. I watched that day as he worked with her. By the end of that class she had the skills and confidence she needed to be able to do so. If you need firearms training, I highly recommend you reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org
This article also mentions my friends at Black Bullet Guns. I am not surprised in the least to hear that they were involved in helping to provide this Vietnam Vet with a handgun that worked for his special needs. If you need a gunsmith, or are in the market for a new gun, give these guys a look. Their service is better than any I’ve ever dealt with at http://www.blackbulletguns.com
Thank you for the kind comments. It was a pleasure having you and your son in class!