Having a hobby or a pass time you are passionate about, is one of the greatest joys you can have in life. I am very lucky that Airgun shooting is my go-to obsession.
Having shot airguns as a hobby off and on all my life, I started benchrest air rifle shooting seriously a little over three years ago. I never thought in my second season I’d be in the top tier of Benchrest UK Tour able bodied shooters, as well winning at 4 of the last 6 national level competitions.
As the name suggests, benchrest is a discipline where you shoot your rifle from a bench or table whilst using a front rest and a butt support, over a distance of 25 meters. Benchrest is a seated sport where the rifle weight is supported by the bench and the rest, this makes the discipline suitable for a wide range of people. As a wheelchair user, this was what first attracted me to benchrest. As it is a static sport, you are not running around in the mud and up and down hills. It attracts a wide range of people of all ages, genders and physical abilities. Because the air rifles are supported, this gives us the opportunity to develop our skills to hit extremely small targets. These targets can be as small as a 2mm bullseye. As well as being a keen marksman, successful benchrest shooters need to understand how their equipment works and how to adapt to the weather. Many competitors even tune and build their own rifles and equipment, to give themselves that extra edge.
I am also an avid YouTuber with over 80 videos on the “AirAbility” channel where I show off AirAbility Facebook group member’s rifles as well as presenting reviews and shooting related ‘how-to’ videos. Both the YouTube channel and Facebook group have over a thousand members and are growing fast. Feel free to come and join the fun!
I have also had the opportunity to write for the largest UK Airgun magazine on several occasions, enabling me to reach a wider audience showing how inclusive this sport can be. I now find questions I receive are more about how to shoot better, rather than curiosity around my disability as wheelchair users are a rare sight in the outdoor shooting community. Exactly why I set up AirAbility – it’s working slowly!
Want to know more? After a quick google go to your local airgun club and talk to as many shooters as possible, whilst trying as many guns as you can to see what suits you. You can even look at www.benchrestuk.com to see when and where the next events are being held. You can also subscribe to a good magazine such as “Airgun World” and get advice from some of the most experienced people in the industry.
Overall, it’s about talking to as many people as possible and picking the information that is right for you! With all the opportunities I’ve had in the airgun industry over the last few years I always joke “I’m living the airgun dream” and I hope you too can share some of it!