Match stages were designed to offer competition, a wide range of defense shooting scenarios and a challenge to novice and experienced participants. A mock gas station was constructed for one stage, a steel plate rack tested time and accuracy on another. One stage was designed specifically for low-light, making the participants test their confidence engaging glow-in-the-dark targets and another offered a series of home defense situations that ran the themes of Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s events.
“To build a match that works for an adaptive person, we’re going to design our stages so that there’s very little movement,” said Chad Barber, the ADSS Match Director. “We’re not going to design stages with a high number of reloads. Simplify it and execute a phenomenal match.”
“Someone with a single-leg amputee compared to me in a wheelchair, or someone that might be a quadriplegic are all going to shoot differently, but every little thing can be pulled together and utilized to make your system work for you,” said Nicholas Fairall, ADSS participant. “I was an athlete before my injury and I always loved competing and having that competition mindset and the ADSS gave me that opportunity for it and gave me a great stepping stone to where I can get into the world of competitive shooting,”
More Than Competition
While the techniques and the competition drove the participants for accuracy and better scores, the real benefit was how each participant was empowered, something that can’t be easily quantified.
“One of the most important and overlooked aspects of what we do is it helps build self-confidence and self-reliance back into a lot of these people who have been told ‘you can’t do this’ or ‘you can’t do that,’” Cicero said.
Baucom explained that the self-defense scenarios built into the competition inspire the participants that they are able to safely and effectively handle their guns in everyday scenarios. That builds confidence that they’re able to boldly re-enter life instead of being concerned that situations might be overwhelming.
“I know I’m able to protect myself and protect my family,” Gould explained. “We’ve got so much going on in this world right now and there is so much uncertainty, but knowing I’m still able to protect myself if need be, that’s a big confidence booster. It makes me feel safer when I’m out and I go places.”
The confidence boost translates to much more than shooting skills or self-reliance. It allows the participants to define themselves according to their abilities, and not be defined by their disabilities.
“A lot of times when you face injury, that door just slams on you,” Taylor said. “When you spend so much time looking at what you can’t do and looking at a closed door, you don’t see all those open doors and so being able to do something I did prior brings a little more of myself that used to be back. It’s hard to find that sometimes.”
“It creates a sense of empowerment because you’re like, ‘I can get back out here on the range and really shoot like I did prior to my injury,’” Fairall said.
Baucom explained that planning is already in the works for the next iteration of ADSS in 2022 and hopes to get more participants and grow the event. For more information, visit adaptiveshoot.com.