Wheelin’ Sportsmen was started in 2000 by the National Wild Turkey Federation as an outreach program for people with disabilities.
Two members of the Wheelin’ Sportsmen have created two unique devices to help people with disabilities have the opportunity to hunt.
“It’s pretty cool. It’s great–now people with disabilities instead of watching on the sidelines they can participate in shooting sports, whether it be air rifle or .22 rifle or crossbow,” Wheelin’ Sporstmen President Ken Buchholtz said.
Buchholtz created a shooting bench, a contraption that sets a rifle or a crossbow on a mount and is operated with a joystick.
“We have lots of adjustments,” he said. “We can go back a foot and a half, and we can go up and down about four inches. We can put pretty much anything we want to use on there (the base of the bench) and we use a switch that opens your truck or your hatchback, you push the button and put it about 3/8 of an inch from the trigger. You puff in on that thing and it’ll open the vacuum switch. It powers the trigger assembly and it fires the unit. There’s no jerking, there’s moving it’s just unbelievably accurate how good it works and everything.”
They also have a few trailers that are handicap accessible. The mounts are universal so any wheelchair can pull up to the unit.
“We’ll make some kind of mount that we’ll mount on the wall or something that we pull out and the thing will just sit on it and it works great,” Buchholtz said.
Some of the materials are donated, such as students helping create deer blinds, and benches from an assisted living home.
The Wheelin’ Sportsmen are donating one bench unit to Michigan State University’s Demmer Center.
“They asked if we would build them a unit, so this will be the first university that I know of in the country that will have a shooting program–actually a shooting league–for people with disabilities,” Buchholtz said.
“It’s very heartwarming to be able to help other people because I was in a situation like that at one time…but anyways it’s great. And we have a lot of people that help out. We have a lot of volunteers. And everybody that participates they have a great time and they just can’t wait to get out again and it’s just so much fun, it’s great.”
Wheelin’ Sportsmen hosts events throughout the central Upper Peninsula. For more information, including if you would like to attend an event or volunteer, you can contact Buchholtz at (906) 553-2268.