Crotched Mountain Accessible Recreation and Sports brings back adaptive shooting clinics
By MEGHAN PIERCE
Union Leader Correspondent |
August 25. 2014 10:50PM
Mark Race of Loudon works with Mike Sylvester, a Ruger volunteer, during an adaptive shooting clinic at the Monadnock Rod & Gun Club in Peterborough on Thursday. (MEGHAN PIERCE/Union Leader Correspondent)
PETERBOROUGH — After a successful pilot program last summer, Crotched Mountain Accessible Recreation and Sports has brought back its adaptive shooting clinics to the Monadnock Rod & Gun Club.
The adaptive shooting program was started through a collaborative community partnership between Crotched Mountain, Monadnock Rod & Gun Club, Access Outdoors New England and Sturm, Ruger & Co. Ruger, which provides the adaptive firearms along with the ammunition and volunteers who donate their time to instruct participants.
Colin LaFlamme, founder and executive director of Access Outdoors New England, said his company specializes in hunting, fishing and shooting sports so the partnership made sense.
“We have a variety of shooters in our program. As long as you have cognitive function to understand the regulations and rules of safe shooting you’re welcome to the program,” LaFlamme said. “We have shooters from, really doesn’t need much help, all the way up to people with high level spinal cord injuries, and they need the full electrical mechanical shooting rests to be able to independently aim and fire a firearm.”
On Thursday, joining the second of three adaptive shooting clinics this summer was Corey Kotz, 41, of Milford.
Kotz has multiple sclerosis. He chose to start using a wheelchair about a year ago because his falling was increasing, he said. “I’m still very active.”
Kotz has been involved with Crotched Mountain’s adaptive programs for years.
“I’ve been skiing with Crotched five years,” Kotz said. “I was not always in a chair. I’m an avid outdoorsman. I hunt. I fish. I’ve done all those sports all my life.”
Though he still has use of his hands he was learning how to use a breath-activated trigger Thursday, known as a “sip and puff” to activate the trigger.
Kotz was already a member of the Monadnock Rod & Gun club when the clinics started last summer. He attends to have fun shooting, learn about new adaptive equipment but also as an advocate for others with disabilities.
“It’s paramount. It represents everything that I feel about disabilities. I’m a big advocate. I sit on the governor’s commission on disabilities. I sit on the barrier-free design committee for the state. Our goal is to make everything available to everybody. You’re just the same as everybody else and to be able to do this and be part of it makes my life better and allows me to talk to more people and not just talk the talk, but walk the walk,” Kotz said. “A disability today it not what a disability was 20 years ago.”
Kotz said he encourages those with disabilities to take advantage of the wide range of Crotched Mountain Accessible Recreation programs. “We can get anybody to ski. We can get anybody to shoot. We can put anybody in a kayak, don’t’ be afraid,” Kotz said.
Mark Race, 58, of Loudon also joined the clinic Thursday. Race was involved in a car accident in 1980 when he sustained a spinal cord injury resulting in paraplegia.
He has been with the Granite State Independent Living for more than 20 years and is currently the supervisor of the N.H. Chapter of the National Spinal Cord Injury Association.
Working with a volunteer from Ruger, Race said the challenge he faces when shooting is dealing with his balance issues, something adaptive equipment and some instruction from the volunteer can help with.
“He’s here to get my best performance out of me,” Race said of the Ruger volunteer. “I think it’s great because it’s really about the adaptation. It doesn’t focus on what you can’t do. It’s always focused on what you can do.”