Tucson wheelchair basketball team gives trapshoot a go during annual Paralyzed Veterans of America shooting event
By Brittany Martin
A group of wheelchair basketball players from the Tucson Lobos traded in their basketballs for shotguns for a day, as they participated in the Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) trapshoot in Tucson, Ariz., Oct. 29.
The annual event hosted by the PVA Arizona Chapter consisted of 100 targets each in singles, doubles and handicap competitions, with a pistol competition held the previous day. More than 40 able-bodied and disabled shooters, including a small contingent from the University of Arizona Shotgun Team, competed in the tournament at the Tucson Trap & Skeet Club.
The PVA Arizona Chapter invited the wheelchair basketball players out to the range to introduce them to shotgun sports and “see what they can do,” said Peter Quinn, PVA Arizona Chapter executive director.
While two people in the Tucson Lobos group were veterans, all were novices at clay target sports. The players received safety instructions and loaner guns before heading out to take their first shots.
Everyone seemed a bit nervous at first, but there were several experienced shooters on hand to give the players tips, including former Tucson Mayor Bob Walkup. Each player shot one round of 25 targets.
Herman Ortega, a Tucson native and member of the Tucson Lobos for five years, said the trapshoot was a stress reliever and he’d definitely try it again.
“I thought it was going to be a lot more powerful, it wasn’t what I expected, it was fun though,” Ortega said.
Arthur Parson, a U.S. Army veteran and coach of the Tucson Lobos, said it was “just a blast.”
“[I was] not so good at first, it’s kind of a rhythmic thing, you kinda gotta get loosened up and relaxed, and once I got relaxed I think I did better,” Parson said.
Parson is a regular participant at the National Veterans Wheelchair Games and said he usually shoots air rifle and air pistol. He enjoyed the trapshoot because it was less stressful and being outdoors with his regular teammates made the ambiance more relaxing.
“It’s good for their camaraderie, and some of the techniques for being successful as a shooter is relative to basketball, you know, you lead in basketball for a pass, and the same thing, you kind of lead when you’re target shooting, it’s pretty much the same concept,” Parson said.
Although Parson had fun, he won’t be trading in his basketball for a shotgun on a permanent basis anytime soon.
“Basketball is a little more user friendly, you can go out to a court anywhere, you just can’t shoot anywhere,” Parson said. “I think right now [in wheelchair basketball] we’re on the verge of making history. I’m 63 years old and I’m still playing wheelchair basketball, and I still play because I love the game and I would like to see the game have more recognition.”
The PVA Shooting Sports program has been in existence since the 1980s. The program has a circuit of 13 shoots across the country, with 12 at the chapter level and one national shoot that typically takes place each June.
For more information about the PVA Shooting Sports program, visit PVA Shooting Sports.
All photos contributed by Christopher Di Virgilio.