At one time I did quite a bit of competitive skeet and pistol shooting and became modestly proficient at both. But, two of the worst competitive drubbings I ever endured in both activities came at the hands of a couple of wheelchair-bound marksmen.
John Hughes can be found most sultry summer evenings casting around one of many farm and public ponds in Carroll County, and I've fished a number of times out of the Annapolis area with Don McBride aboard bay charter boats. Both spend the better part of their waking hours in wheelchairs.
There are many disabled men and women involved in hunting, shooting and fishing activities.
Brian Wilson, director of the Physically Challenged Shooters Association, said, "Over 43 million Americans have been victims of polio, multiple sclerosis, stroke and other limiting diseases, as well as auto and other accidents."
The Physically Challenged Shooters Association was formed in August and is financed through the Palmer R. Chitester Fund, Inc., tax-deductible foundation.
"We are dedicated to the education and training of the physically challenged in all aspects of the shooting sports through the distribution of training and educational aides, by conducting on-site seminars throughout the country as well as overseeing organized competition and recognition," Wilson said.
"In short, the association is here to serve, encourage and train as well as help physically challenged shooters find places to shoot, hunt, compete and enjoy the full range of shooting activities."
You can learn more about this organization by calling (301) 317-0201 or writing the Physically Challenged Shooters Association, Suite 7270, 7270 Meadow Wood Way, Clarksville, Md. 21029.
The Department of Natural Resources has recognized the physically challenged person's requirements for a number of years, and most public fishing areas involving state money are accessible to the disabled.
There are even a couple of trout streams set up and reserved for blind anglers.
Such put-and-take trout waters include the Jones Falls and its tributaries above Stevenson Road in Baltimore County, Laurel Run near Moscow in Allegany County and Little Tonoloway Creek in Washington County within the Weidmeyer Park near Hancock. Also, there is Culler Lake in Frederick County, Avalon Pond in Baltimore County and Carroll Creek from Route 15 downstream to the dam at College Avenue in Frederick.
Carroll Creek also has a catch-and-return, fly-fishing-only area for the blind, from Montevue Avenue to Shookstown Road.
Boating safety course set
A boating safety course is scheduled for March 5-6 at Piney Run Park. To register, call (410) 795-3274.
If you live closer to Reisterstown, you may want to consider attending the course set to begin Tuesday at Franklin High School. Call (410) 789-4679 for course details or to register.
Early-bird fishing tournament
This year's 12th annual Early Bird Fishing Tournament at Piney Run Park in Eldersburg will be conducted from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. March 26.
The event is sponsored by the Maryland Recreation & Parks Association, which offers up to $20,000 in prize money.
The cost to enter is $30 for shoreline anglers and $35 for boat anglers. Early registration is strongly recommended. Call (410) 536-4482.
George Loechi, a Taylorsville angler who regularly fishes the nearby Potomac and Monocacy rivers offers this week's tip:
"I've found lead-head jigs to be one of the deadliest artificial lures if properly used. They're very effective on bottom feeders like walleyes, bass, striped bass and bluegills.
"And I also think they are ideal when game fish are suspended at certain levels between top and bottom. The trick is to fish them slowly and keep your mind on the lure and at the slightest change in feel, set the hook."