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., a tax-deductible foundation.
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, hunting safety
Three boating safety courses are scheduled for Anne Arundel County locations in March.
The first course will be given March 9 at the Taylor Avenue Fire Station in Annapolis. Call Irwin Eagle at (301) 363-0925 for details.
The other two begin March 14. One will be conducted at Quiet Waters Park, the other at the Riviera Fire Hall. Call (410) 222-1777 for details.
A hunter's safety course will begin March 15 in Fort Meade. A second course is set for the Stoney Creek Hunting & Fishing Club beginning March 21. Earl Zoeller at (410) 360-0872 can furnish details on both.