Disabled Archery

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Beginning with the Americans with Disabilities act of 1990 which mandated that streets and public buildings be wheelchair accessible, new vistas have opened up for those with disabilities. In nearly every field physically challenged individuals are participating in activities not thought possible in the past. This includes archery and bowhunting. With adaptive equipment even the severely disabled are able to bowhunt with a compound bow or crossbow. PCBA-inc.org (Physically Challenged Bow Hunters of America) is a national organization dedicated to helping literally thousands of physically challenged persons learn how to participate in the sport of archery and to bowhunt in spite of their disabilities. They have become a central source of information on adaptive equipment, techniques, equipment sources, and general encouragement for the physically impaired to participate in the sport of archery and bowhunting.  They regularly hold archery events and even hunts for the physically impaired.  The organization is supported by membership dues, and the activities are lead by able bodied member volunteers.

Often the crossbow is looked upon as the ultimate answer for those unable to use a compound bow in the traditional manner for hunting, but there are other options that allow physically impaired persons to use a compound bow instead.  The once champion archer in Michigan's Upper Peninsula who lost an arm in an accident modified his bow with a socket that fits his artificial arm to continue enjoying archery competition.  Other archers with only one strong arm draw their bow using their teeth.  A fabric tab on the bowstring is held in the teeth while the good arm straightens to draw the bow with arrow nocked.  Relaxing the jaw fires the arrow.

One of the most useful pieces of adaptive equipment is the drawlock (also called a draw keep).  This is a device that holds a bow at full draw until a trigger is actuated.  Although a drawlock equipped bow is functionally equivalent to a crossbow, the experience of using it is similar to using a compound bow rather than a rifle.  The advantage of the drawlock for the strength impaired archer is that it can be drawn between the hands and feet using the much stronger back and leg muscles.  An archer unable to draw a 40# bow (the minimum draw weight legal in many states for bowhunting big game) in a hunting situation may be able to draw a 60# or even stronger drawlock fitted bow.  There are three sources of drawlocks on the internet: Bow Hunter's Advantage, Hickory Creek,  and Pullin Archery.  The main drawback of the drawlock is that it adds weight, as much as two pounds, to the bow.  This can be a problem for the strength compromised archer.  The Lock-a-Draw from Bow Hunter's Advantage is the lightest, weighing only about half a pound.  It has a further advantage in that it does not modify the bow and it attaches without tools.

The most common disability that causes bowhunters to quit the sport is declining strength with age.  Although able to draw their bow, holding a 5 lb. bow at the end of their arm steady while aiming is no longer possible.  As a result accuracy and hunting success decline, leading to discouragement and quitting the sport.  It need not be so.  The Compound Bow Rest and Holder is a bow holder that allows an archer to aim and fire the bow while the weight of the bow and archer's arm are supported and steadied by the Bow Rest and Holder.  It serves the same function as a shooting rail does for the rifle shooting.  The Compound Bow Rest and Holder is also the ideal companion to the drawlock.  While using it the weight of the drawlock equipped bow ceases to be a problem since it is supported by the Bow Rest.

State governments are beginning to recognize the plight of older archers and to allow them to hunt with drawlocks without a disability permit.  Other states have relaxed the requirements for obtaining the disability permit to recognize age as a disability.  With a drawlock bow hunters can continue to hunt even into their 90's.

WLUCTV6 in Marquette, Michigan featured several physically challenged bow hunters and their adaptive equipment on the Discovering program with Buck LeVasseur on Sept. 29, 2008 .  The program is presented here with their permission.

WLUCTV6 Discovering

We applaud those who have supplied adaptive equipment that allows the physically challenged to participate in the wonderful sport of archery and bowhunting.

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