Though maybe not at the top of everyone’s recreation list, shooting ranges and shooting sports are a passion for some. Owners of shooting facilities may not consider that their buildings and grounds need to be user-friendly for those with disabilities. They are subject to the same laws as any other facility or building under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Just because a person has a physical disability, this does not mean they do not engage in physical activities and sports. Facilities that cater to physical fitness or athletics and recreational activities are required to be accessible to those with disabilities.
Though every sport or activity has its own unique set of issues, they are all able to conform to the requirements set forth by the ADA with a little ingenuity and planning.
Specifically, for the shooting ranges, there have been great improvements made in the last few years. Additionally, there is new technology available to make those improvements easier and the change in thought process for some is the biggest positive motivator of all.
Some improvements are no-brainers: handicapped accessible restrooms and paved parking lots with concrete or paved pathways. For a range, this can extend to skeet shooting fields where there needs to be paved pathways for shooting positions and that includes paths to gain access to those same fields. One needs to be able to get to the field in order to shoot, if using a wheelchair, especially, they cannot be expected to travel over dirt and grass.
Inside the range, equipment shelving needs to be at an appropriate level for those with wheelchairs. Some ranges offer booths where one can sit and the counters provide a holder for the gun in the event the shooter is unable to support the firearm on their own.
One innovative idea was to creative adjustable walls between each shooter booth so that they could be moved to accommodate someone with a wheelchair. Ensuring that target retrieval controls are within reach is another adjustment that may need to be made within the booth.
If you, or someone you know, has a disability and frequents a range that creates issues with access and functionality, there are businesses that act as advocates for the disabled to ensure that the places they wish to enjoy are available and easy for them to visit. Whether it is a shooting range, gym, or park, if you notice violations or room for improvements, contact an advocate to assist you.