Guns Are For Everyone: The Story of a Blind Shooter

Blind shooter guns

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Reader David Parker writes:

I am probably a very unique shooter, for you see (pun intended), I am totally blind.

It started a little over three years ago. My wife thought we ought to replace our Smith & Wesson J Frame revolver with something a little more intimidating.

My wife had only ever shot the J Frame a couple of times, once at a milk bottle and once at an injured skunk. She hit both. I, however, had only shot a .22 rifle more than 60 years ago when I still had a small amount of vision.

After some rudimentary research, we settled on a GLOCK 19 and took it one early morning to a local range. She thought she’d shoot a couple of magazines, go home, put it in the night stand, and, like many other shootes, that would be the end of that.

Well, my wife immediately fell in love with shooting, even though the range safety officer was a crusty 80-year-old who felt the only handguns started with 1911, and ended in .45. His first words to us were, “Looks like you got one of those ugly ole GLOCKs!”

The RSO asked me if I’d like to shoot our new gun to see what it was like. I told him I didn’t think firearms and a blind guy were a good idea. In the months that followed, my wife shot two to three times a week, and we made some wonderful friends at the range, especially that crusty ole RSO.

Little did I know that RSO and one of our other friends were plotting on getting me to try shooting. So, one day, when we arrived at the range, the RSO and the friend had brought a Smith & Wesson 686 loaded with light .38 Specials. They convinced me to give it a go.

They had a B27 target for me to shoot at, and the only way for me to aim was for either my wife or the friend to stand be hind the gun and try to line up the sights. The problem is, I’m six feet tall., and both of them are very short.

Needless to say, I shot, and was able to put a few rounds on paper, and, like my wife, I fell in love with it!

Over the succeeding two and a half years we’ve enlarged our gun portfolio to over 10 Handguns. My wife and I have also succumbed to the RSO’s desire for al real shooters to shoot .45, and it had better be a 1911.

My wife and I love to shoot together, and we have Laser Grips installed on all the guns that I shoot. We’re like an artillery team; she’s my spotter, giving instructions if I’m left, right, too high or too low.

At one point, I could almost come close to outshooting her. I cut a playing card in half, using .45 ball ammo, in five shots.  I’ve gone from spraying shots all over a B27 Target, to confining nearly all my shots to a three-iinch area of a six-inch paper plate at seven yards.

The guys at the range have brought various guns for me to shoot. I’ve shot .22s, .38s, a .357 Magnum and a .44 Magnum…all were great fun!

My wife has, however, surpassed my shooting ability. She now regularly shoots 3×5 cards at seven yards, and can often keep 50 shots in a 2 to 2.5″ hole!

We both shoot often at an outdoor range where we like ringing steel and falling plates, I have difficulty with the falling plates, due to the spaces between them. It’s easy for my wife to lose the laser between plates, but, ringing steel gives me instant feedback I don’t get when shooting paper.

I always thought shooting was easy. Just point the gun and pull the trigger. Yeah right. I have now learned that shooting is a very complex and perishable endeavor. I had no idea that grip, stance and trigger control were so influential, and really dictate whether you can hit what you’re aiming at.

It’s been a fascinating journey, going from knowing absolutely nothing about handguns to learning the jargon and how they work. I do all the cleaning of the firearms, including our 1911s, even to the point of disassembling the 1911s’ slide. I’ve learned a little about re-loading, but I won’t be taking that up any time soon. It’s been a wonderful journey and a memorable experience, plus I’ve had the benefit of sharing something enjoyable with the one I love.

comments

  1. avatar Art it West says:

    I’m happy for you and your wife. I’m glad you have a means of self defense, and I’m glad you are having fun.

    Also, there aren’t degrees of unique. 😀.

  2. avatar Art it West says:

    It’s amazing the way guns multiply when you get into shooting. You go from one to ten in a couple years. I’ve done that too.

    1. avatar MyName says:

      I’ve been trying to get mine to breed in the safe at night to save me a few bucks but it is not working out too well.

      1. avatar uncommon_sense says:

        (snicker)

      2. avatar Bloving says:

        Put on some Barry White albums. Light a few scented candles aroung the safe. Turn down the lights a bit. Make sure the smaller guns are locked away elsewhere…

        1. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

          And don’t be surprised if in 9 months you find something like these in your safe;

          http://blackgunswood.com/products.html

          https://www.mossberg.com/category/series/464-spx-lever-action-centerfire-rifles/

  3. avatar former water walker says:

    Uhhhh…OK. My eyesight isn’t what it used to be but I can’t imagine sightless shooting. Shall not be infringed!

  4. avatar Michael says:

    Sound like both of you “got a keeper”. God bless and keep going. This flat out, just made my day. Thanks for sharing. -30-

  5. avatar tsbhoa.p.jr says:

    i can see it.
    trust.

  6. avatar Anner says:

    This is impressive

  7. avatar Ardent says:

    Glad to hear you’re enjoying the art of shooting. As you’ve learned, it’s neither crazy, nor impossible for an entirely blind person to shoot.
    Years ago I befriended and shot with a man who had completely lost his vision as an older child.
    He was quickly able to correct based on feedback such as adjusting his fire by feet or inches in elevation and windage, much like the artillery gunner and spotter system you described with your wife.
    Eventually we began rigging aural indicators to his targets…begining with a pop can partially filled with gravel and attached to a string so that I could jiggle it and allow him to use his hearing to target it. With much less practice than I believe anyone would have expected, he was able to successfully engage silhouette/humanoid targets with rapid and functionally accurate fire by listening for the rattle of the can indicating the ‘foot’ of the target and estimating the range to target to allow appropriate elevation for minute of bad guy, quick and repetative torso hits.
    With this development, we began adding a cheap ($2) digital watch where the ‘mouth’ of the target would be, to the existing rattling can indicator for the ‘feet’, and using its alarm function to produce a second, upper, indicator of target location. By doing this he received information about the targets location, orientation and height, and it allowed him to ‘shoot between the sounds’.
    In short order he was able to rapidly draw and place reliable, repetitive hits with 95%+ accuracy on IPSC targets, rigged for foot and mouth sounds, out to about 5 yards, and about 75% hits out to 7 yards.

    I was, needless to say, astounded at how accurately he could hit the targets using only the pair of sounds to locate and aim at them. It encouraged me (With a sighted second with hand on my shoulder from behind for safety) to attempt blind folded shooting at 3, 5 and 7 yards using only sound. I was never as good at it as he was, nor anything like as fast, but found that I too could make hits without eyesight. It was an interesting experience to say the least!

    Without having both the ‘upper’ and ‘lower’ sounds his accuracy suffered considerably, as did the speed of his strings. Even his horizontal accuracy suffered without the target being vertically bracketed by sound.

    After many such range sessions the blind shooter, who lived alone, felt confident using his handgun in home defence, and adapted his home in various ways (such as strategically placed rugs with bubble wrap beneath them and beaded curtains in certain door ways) to assist him in target location in the event of an intruder. Additionally, he had a good size mutt that was very vocal about announcing the presence of someone in his vicinity.

    It gave me inspiration and hope that in the event I lose my sight I wouldn’t have to give up the activity I love, nor would I necessarily be unable to use a firearm defensively.
    I’m glad to hear that you’re shooting and enjoying it, and hope that perhaps the “Two Sound” bracket target indicator/locator system my friend and I used will be something you can use to improve your enjoyment and progress with shooting.

    1. avatar LaDonna Parker says:

      David and I appreciate the information that you shared and we both enjoyed the story a great deal. This man reminded me of David by his determination of learning this skill..Our friends at the range are always working on ways for David to shoot independently and we have found a way for him to go deer hunting by using a scope which uses a bluetooth camera to transmit what the scope is seeing to a cell phone used by an observer. And the they can tell David when the crosshairs are on target!

  8. avatar LaDonna Parker says:

    I am the wife of David and he is amazing at anything he sets his mind to and shooting was no different. We have a laser on every gun he uses and when we go to the indoor range or the outdoor range I just tell him when he is on target and to fire and the rest is up to him…I can tell you he is a better shot then a lot of sighted shooters we see..We both practice extreme safety and always triple check all firearms and we always observe the safety rules. We take this hobby very seriously and I have had my conceal and carry for almost 3 years which I take seriously and I carry everyday and to stay proficient I shoot at least 8000 rounds a year. This has become a life style we have both adopted and truly love it.

    1. avatar Cooter E Lee says:

      I wonder if someday technology like AI (brute force processing database) image recognition that Microsoft and google are working on would have a place helping get on target.

      I hope you have taken him to an outdoor range that allows tannerite. I personally guarantee you won’t have to spot the target to let him know he hit it!

      1. avatar Geoff "Mess with the bull, get the horns" PR says:

        Really, the technology isn’t really necessary.

        Some blind folk’s hearing is so finely-tuned they are able to virtually 3-D ‘map’ interior rooms by just the sound of someone walking through them. They can determine where large objects like furniture are with a fair degree of accuracy…

    2. avatar Ben says:

      There is a blind man on youtube with a firearms channel. His channel is called Mishaco. You might be interested in his story.

  9. avatar RA-15 says:

    Guns are for everyone indeed !! Wonderful story , it made my day.

  10. avatar uncommon_sense says:

    I always thought shooting was easy. Just point the gun and pull the trigger.

    If we are talking about COMBAT ACCURACY when your attacker is within 10 feet — which happens to cover about 99% of self-defense events — then that is EXACTLY correct. All you have to do is point the gun and pull the trigger. All the other stuff about breathing control, trigger control, technique, etc. do not affect effective self-defense at close range.

    Of course precision shooting DOES involve more than just “point and shoot”.

    I want to stress those important points. Why? I don’t want to see someone who is interested in firearm ownership for self-defense thinking that they would be incapable and walk away.

  11. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

    Outstanding!

    A few years ago there was a big hubbub in the media over an Iowa weapons carry permit that was issued to a blind person. What everyone in the media ignored was 1) nobody bothered to find out if the person was totally blind or ‘legally blind’ and 2) in Iowa you need a carry permit to carry a taser concealed.

    1. avatar former water walker says:

      Yeah and azzhole/douche/lowlife scum Jimmy Kimmel made sport of him. Hey I’ve been at a gunshop counter when a guy who was severely disabled bought a gun. No hands…

  12. avatar MikeC says:

    I have had the honor of helping helping a couple of hunters that have become blind continue hunting . The blind hunter holds ,aims and fires the rifle, The hunting partner is the spotter. We designed a extra tall scope mount that allows the spotter to look thru the scope, behind and over the hunters shoulder. They use long eye relief scopes. Spotter tells him where aim, when to fire. The system works well. One of them even sent me a picture of the first moose he ever got hunting this way. Smile on his face is priceless.

  13. avatar Rocketman says:

    Just a thought, but have you considered using a cheap device for a target that makes a noise so if someone breaks into your home while your wife isn’t there you can practice hitting a target from a noise that the burglar makes? Someone saying “Put the gun down or I’ll kill you.” would make me aim about 14 inches lower to hopefully hit them in the chest.

  14. avatar MD Matt says:

    As a blind shooter myself, I’m glad to hear of other people like me enjoying firearms.
    FYI, lasermax makes a guide rod replacement for many pistols that also makes it easy to get on target.
    You might want to try putting one of those remote key finders on the back of a steel plate. That way someone can remotely trigger the sound. The steel should protect the speaker.
    I don’t have a local range that will let me use steel (outside or otherwise) but I’d love to have the chance. I’ve taken a mosin nagant to an outdoor range and hit paper at 100 yards with sighted help and that is super fun, it’s also entertaining to other sighted shooters to only notice the cane after you’re done packing up for the day😉

  15. avatar Stuart K says:

    Awesome story! I can see (no pun intended) how it would still be fun and that most of the same challenges apply.

  16. avatar L-T says:

    Amazing story! Just shows how much proper practice, not gimmicks, improves shooting.

  17. I remember hearing about a story around 2001 about Michigan teaching Blind People “How To Hunt”. And one person quipping about “Where you can Hide from a Blind Person with a Gun” and “How do NOT make a Noise to doesn’t sound like Running Game”…

  18. avatar SkorpionFan says:

    Check out the Mishaco YouTube channel, where the blind rifleman Misha reviews and fires new and historical firearms.
    He knows a lot about AR-15s and AKs. I recently watched his video review of the new Brownells BR-10A retro semi-auto reproduction of a Dutch Armalite Sudanese-contract AR-10.
    “… and I will freely admit I am not an expert on the AR-10. I wish I could be, but for me being blind, it’s hard for me to know things until I can hold them. Pictures don’t do me a heck of a lot of good, and you can’t hold a lot of originals [AR-10s]… There’s tons of variations in these guns [AR-10s], so I am not that versed in the details like a retro AR-15/M-16.”
    He accomplishments and knowledge are amazing. I do find it amusing when he is doing a tabletop review, and he does not notice his cat walking in front of the camera while he is pointing out details on the latest rifle.

  19. avatar ferret427 says:

    I remember seeing something on the TV when I was a kid about a blind guy shooting in archery competitions. They had a sensor (not sure if it was a laser or something else) hooked up to the bow. The sensor could distinguish the colors of the archery Target and would send a tone to an earpiece worn by the shooter. Based on the pitch, he could acquire and hit bullseye’s no problem. Not sure how they set it up for different ranges though, was a long time ago.

  20. Outstanding, I’m happy you have joined the firearm community, as another 100% blind Shooter.

    As mentioned earlier by MD, the key finders are cheap and come in a pack of 5 or so with a remote. Which is nice since you will hit them. Used in conjunction with electronic (Stereo) ear pro. You will have no issues finding your targets. Also you can use several at once for multiple targets.

    As a side note, if your interested I have several videos out there of me doing detailed field strips, there’s no reason to only stop at the slide.

    I’ve put out a challenge for the sighted shooters to do a field strip blind folded and currently have 40 or so from them. If anything it’s a good laugh watching them stumble.

    Any how, welcome to the darkside.

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