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Accessibility Offers Possibility

With approximately 33 million disabled individuals living in the United States today, the Annual National Disability Awareness Shoot held Oct. 20-21, 2013, was created to celebrate those individuals’ ability to overcome the many difficulties they face every day.

The scenic Lehigh Valley Sporting Clays center in Allentown, Pa., served as the sponsor and sporting clay range for the First Annual National Disability Awareness Shoot on Oct. 20-21, 2013. The 30-station sporting clays course is located on the grounds of a 120-acre abandoned limestone quarry that offered a unique and visually magnificent experience to all the participants who attended.

Bill Bachenberg, a member of the NRA Board of Directors and the NRA’s Adaptive Shooting Sports Committee and owner of Lehigh Valley Sporting Clays, and his wife, Laura, were an integral part of organizing the shoot. The event helped to raise awareness and funds for the shooting needs of physically challenged individuals.

“We want to raise awareness and be able to create solutions for those with disabilities. We want to learn what range owners can do to accommodate everyone. Our goal is to educate and help tens of thousands with disabilities. We want to give [the disabled] a renewed hope of what they can do,” said Bachenberg.

The idea for the event was generated by the NRA Adaptive Shooting Sports Committee, which is tasked with creating policies, programs and strategies to help those with disabilities. Proceeds from the event went to The NRA Foundation’s Disabled Shooting Services Endowment. This endowment supports the development of novel instructor curricula and training programs to bring shooting opportunities to the disabled and assist shooting facilities, suppliers and manufacturers with achieving the best practices and design guidance to improve equipment, accessibility and mobility for disabled shooters in perpetuity.

“Before, I always thought anyone in a wheelchair was the same, but we’re all different. We each have different abilities and limitations,” explained David Grace of Honeoye, N.Y.
An Adaptive Shooting Sports clinic was held at the range on Sunday afternoon; the first of its kind. Bachenberg led an open discussion with several physically disabled individuals about what range improvements could be made to meet their specific needs and to enhance their shooting experience. The conversation was followed by a few hours of clay shooting.

The event later moved to the Bear Creek Mountain Resort & Conference Center. The resort, nestled on more than 330 wooded acres in scenic Berks County, Pa., served as the perfect location for this autumn event’s reception and dinner.

Guests bid on various items in the silent auction, all of which were donated to the NRA Ring of Freedom event. The NRA Ring of Freedom is a program dedicated to building relationships with patriots who seek to secure the future of freedom.  Among the items up for bid were firearms, knives, hunting trips and private shooting instruction. Supporters in attendance also had the opportunity to support the cause by signing the "Homes 4 Wounded Heroes" grid board. At $200 per square, the $20,000 generated went to the Military Warriors Support Foundation, a group that awards mortgage-free homes to wounded heroes injured during combat in Iraq and Afghanistan.

After a delectable multi-course dinner, guests were entertained by NRA Country star Craig Morgan, as well as country music up-and-comers Samantha Landrum and SaraBeth.

Among so many sponsors and donations in support of the event, one of the most significant donations was an Action Trackchair funded by the event. This off-road wheelchair allows disabled outdoorsmen, women and youth to navigate terrain that would otherwise be impossible to traverse using a traditional wheelchair. These chairs were available at the shooting range during the entire event giving many disabled shooters an opportunity to try them out.

With approximately 33 million disabled individuals living in the United States today, the Annual National Disability Awareness Shoot was created to celebrate those individuals’ ability to overcome the many difficulties they face every day. It is one step toward making their lives better by expanding the range of activities they can enjoy. This annual event is gearing up for its second year, and is not limited to disabled veterans. Anyone in support of making positive changes for those with disabilities and raising awareness is welcome to attend.

Special thanks to the sponsors and exhibitors that helped make this wonderful event possible: Action Rental, A.I.M. Clay Shooting Instruction, Barbour, Bear Creek Mountain Resort & Conference Center, Certified Angus Beef, Beretta, BPU Investment Management, Inc., Brownells, Dean N. Browning, Don Luisi, Caesar Guerini, Celerant Technology Corp., Chivas Goat Milk Skin Care, Colt Industries, Covey & Nye, Fabarm USA, Galazan, Griffin & Howe, Homewood Suites by Hilton, Kennedy Event Management, Kessler Canyon, Krieghoff International, Lehigh Valley Sporting Clays, National Penn, NRA, Olympic Seafood, OSP Shooting School, Perona Farms, Remington, Rockwood Wealth Management, Rogers Wholesale Produce & Seafood, Ray and Eunice Roy, Wayne and Linda Sheets, Silver Oak and Twomey, Superior Woodcraft, Inc., Web Pilot USA and White Flyer.

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