Outdoor Tracks: Quadriplegia and Crossbows

Although Kary Wright needs help loading his crossbow, he says paras and quads with finger movement will find it easy to do on their own.

Although Kary Wright needs help loading his crossbow, he says paras and quads with finger movement will find it easy to do on their own.

“Do you have time to play today?” asks Dave (silly question).

“Sure do, there’s always time to play. What do you have in mind?” I reply.

“How about trying that new bow of yours?”

“You bet, see you when you get here!”

Now there’s a true friend. Dave gets off work early and on the spur-of-the-moment is game to travel over an hour’s-drive and shoot targets! Terryll helps me find my hunting paraphernalia — gun-rack, bow, arrows, range-finder, video camera, another video camera, full coffee, snacks, etc. See how my sweet wife gets roped in again? I don’t try to do it on purpose, it’s just that I love to do things, and doing things as a quadriplegic neccessitates getting assistance from others. I do try to spread the workload and am very fortunate to have friends who are eager to help. I’m not sure if these nice folks like to see me succeed at stuff, or just want to be nearby for free entertainment when I inevitably screw up. Oh well, it doesn’t matter how many times you fall, as long as you get up just as many times.

I absolutely loved my Christmas present this year. Well, to tell the truth, I researched it, picked it out, ordered it, had a friend in Pennsylvania pick it up and ship it, and then my wife found out how much I loved what she got me. To be fair, she equally loved the camera toys that she picked out for me to get her.

I chose a new Barnett Ghost 400 crossbow. My old crossbow, while still working, was 20 years old and pretty slow, firing arrows at a mere 250 feet per second. This meant its effective range is only about 30-40 yards, and the arrow would drop pretty drastically after that. The new Ghost 400 shoots an arrow a whopping 400 feet per second. Therefore the arrow drops much less over distance and retains its accuracy much better in wind. I’m sure you will agree that I needed a new bow. At least that’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it!

* * *

crossbow-shooting-trip“Are you ready?” asks Dave, closing the door to his truck.

“Yep, it’s pretty windy and it isn’t sighted in yet, so how about trying at 25 yards first?”

“Sounds good,” says Dave, grabbing the multitude of stuff I have, heading to the field. It pays to have strong friends.

We set up the target at 25 yards, load an arrow in the bow, and I line up. I put the clothespin-type trigger-puller in my teeth and take aim. Then the safety is removed with the push of a button. I’m a little nervous about the first shot. I once saw my old crossbow fly apart when it was fired without the arrow properly locked on the string. The repairman said we were lucky that nobody got hurt or worse. I can only imagine the violence of this one coming apart, but fortunately it has a system to prevent dry-fires.

“Are you ready with the camera?” I ask.

“You bet,” says Dave. “Ghost 400 … take one!”

I take aim at the target through the scope and gently squeeze the trigger with my teeth, a little nervous. Clamping it further and further, I don’t know exactly when it will fire, but I concentrate on holding the sight on the bullseye.

“Tung … WHACK!”

The arrow crosses the 25 yards in a split second. We are amazed at the speed of the arrow. This is a huge improvement over the old bow. There was a little recoil like when you are shooting a small rifle, but not the sharp hit in the shoulder like a rifle gives. It was very comfortable to shoot.

Okay, now that the fear is out of the way, let’s see how accurate it is. The first arrow was imbedded deep in the target about 6 inches off center. Dave loads another arrow easily, using the crank device that is installed on the bow.

“Ready when you are, buddy!” he says, raising the camera.

“OK, gimp shooting crossbow … take two!” I tease.

I gently clamp down on the trigger and it fires again. This time I’m more excited than afraid to see what is going to happen.

“Tung … WHACK!”

Amazing! It has nearly put the arrow on top of the first one! We make a few quick adjustments on the scope to center it, and then we move back to 30 yards, confident that it will hit the target. We soon found that the bow is deadly accurate out to at least 70 yards, an incredible improvement over the old crossbow.

Target shooting is a great way to enjoy the outdoors. Sometimes we will shoot arrows, other times we’ll set up targets for rifles. Either way it is a fun time. Another great day in the outdoors, thanks to David Loshny and all of the people who helped get these adaptations figured out and built!

Frequently Asked Questions
quad-trigger-crossbowHow do you pull the trigger?
We built a clothespin-type device that pulls a bicycle brake cable attached to the trigger. I clamp this in my teeth to fire the bow or rifle.

How do you hold the bow?
I have a very simple gun holder that fits my rifles and the crossbow, designed by David.

What is the range of the bow?
We have tested it out to 70 yards. Right now I am accurate from close range all the way out to there. You do have to know the distance that you are shooting so you know which crosshair to use. We have a laser rangefinder that we take with us when we are shooting the bows.

Can you load the bow?
I cannot load it myself because of my lack of finger movement, but a lower level quad with some finger movement could load it. A paraplegic would have no trouble at all. The crank cocking device makes it quite easy to load.

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