Disabled shooter launches south Norfolk club to help other athletes

Ian Aitken tries his hand at rifle shooting under the supervision of Sarah Woods and Ivor French at

Ian Aitken tries his hand at rifle shooting under the supervision of Sarah Woods and Ivor French at the launch of Shootability at The Hub in Attleborough. - Credit: Archant

A disabled shooter who aspires to compete at the next Olympics has launched a club that aims to help other disabled athletes achieve success.

Johnathon Byrne, 21, has set up ShootAbility Norfolk, which is currently using the Attleborough Hub in Station Road, after finding that other clubs within Norfolk and north Suffolk were difficult for disabled shooters to use.

He said the nearest club with accessible facilities was in Felixstowe, which was too far for most of the shooters to travel, adding that many clubs in Norfolk were on the second floor of buildings and users had to climb a flight of stairs to use them.

Mr Byrne, who is a member of Norwich City Powerchair Football Club, said Shootability did not yet have a permanent base, though their current address is the Hub, but the club was looking to move into a home as soon as possible as it had a long waiting list of new members.

He decided to take up shooting following the paralympics in London in September as an alternative to the powerchair football he had been playing previously.

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He believes he can qualify for the Team GB paralympic team and go to Rio in 2016 when the next paralympics take place.

Mr Byrne, who is wheelchair-bound with muscular dystrophy, specialises in shooting 10m targets, and was inspired to set up the club after visiting Stoke Mandeville, the birthplace of the paralympic movement, where he was advised to start his own club.

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He said: 'I got into shooting about six months ago and I was invited to go down to Stoke Mandeville for the weekend and they were trying to find me somewhere local for me to train.

'There are a lot of shooting clubs in Norfolk, but none are accessible to disabled people. 'After a couple of months, the people at Stoke Mandeville came back to me and said 'why don't you start up your own club', which I have and we have got a long waiting list of people, but no permanent address as yet.'

The club was launched at an open day on Tuesday at the hub in the presence of club volunteers and representatives of Norfolk County Council.

Anyone over the age of 18 could have a go at shooting with an air rifle or pistol and there will be a second open day at Winfarthing Village Hall on April 28 between noon and 4pm.

'I used to play powerchair football, but I decided I wanted to try something different and that is how I got into shooting,' Mr Byrne said.

For more information about the club, email Carole at shootabilitynfk@btinternet.com

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