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6 Helpful Tips for Disabled Shooters

Do you or a loved one suffer from a disability that makes it difficult to use firearms? Fortunately, there are techniques and accessories that can help.

Do you or a loved one suffer from a disability that makes using a firearm difficult?

Some of the most talented shooters I’ve ever met actually had a handicap or disability.  Contrary to popular belief, physical impairment does not mean you cannot shoot a gun.

shooting from wheelchair
Shooting firearms from a wheelchair is entirely possible, and very common.

It is true that amputation, nerve damage and other severe impairments make it harder to use a gun, but there are still many accessories and techniques that can help disabled people own and use a gun effectively and safely.

Today, I’m going to go over some tips and tricks I’ve picked up from years of experience helping folks with disabilities enjoy the world of firearms. 

With this information, almost anyone, regardless of physical ability, can use firearms either at the range or for self-defense.

I encourage you to read the whole article as you never know what information might be helpful, but I’ve also included some links below to take you directly to the information you need most.

Tip #1: Ask the Right Questions to Find the Right Gun

Tip #2: Shooting From a Wheelchair

Tip #3: Shooting With Chronic Pain

Tip #4: Shooting With Impairments of the Hands, Arms, or Shoulder

Tip #5:  Choose the Right Holster

Tip #6: Investigate Other Firearm Accessories for People with Disabilities

Tip #7: Find Guns that Work Well For People with Disabilities 

 Tip #1: Ask the Right Questions to Find the Right Gun

success kid question meme
You got questions, we have answers.

While every shooter must strive to find the right weapon, this is even more important if you are disabled. Here are the top questions you should use to evaluate a gun before buying it:

1) Can you hold the gun firmly enough to prevent limp-wrist problems?  If you cannot hold the gun steady while it is firing, the brass may not eject properly, and your shots may go astray.  Folks with arthritis or other weakness in the wrist will do better with revolvers.

2) Can you pull the trigger?  Double action triggers on revolvers or heavier triggers on semis may not work if your hands are weak.  Double/Single action revolvers may be best if you have arthritic hands or other problems that limit the movement in your fingers and wrists.

3) Can you hold the gun in the extended arm position?  If you cannot do this, then you will need accessories that enable you to use the sights.  You can use wrist braces or other aides to help with upper body strength or mobility problems.

4) Can you shoot, draw, reload, and holster the weapon?  Something as simple as a different carry position or modified holster can solve this.

5) Can you maintain the firearm?  You should be able to field strip the gun, clean it, lubricate it, and reassemble it.  If you can’t do these things, do you have a friend or family member that can do it for you?

 6) Are there handicapped accessible ranges in your area?  Make sure you can easily set up and retrieve targets as well as manage other aspects of shooting safely.

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 Tip #2: Shooting From a Wheelchair

Trevor Baucom Shooting From Wheelchair
Trevor Baucom Shooting From Wheelchair

If you use a manual wheelchair, then your upper body strength may be up to the task of using a firearm.  Others may have serious problems with arm and shoulder strength.

It may be necessary to lift weights or do other exercises to maximize upper body strength.  I recommend talking to a physical therapist to get some tailored recommendations for exercises tailored to your ability and unique circumstances.

Once you can hold the gun steady and manage the recoil, you will be on your way to shooting effectively in all situations.

Being able to use your firearm effectively in a self-defense situation is especially important for those in wheelchairs as well.

Often, people who target individuals in wheelchairs will try to knock them out of the chair.  Part of being an effective shooter involves being able to draw your gun in any  situation.

As such, a wheelchair bound person will have a few extra things to consider.  A certified self defense instructor can be very helpful for working on these things.

From the Internet meme
If your instructor looks like these, maybe find another one.

Choose one that listens to your needs and offers useful advice.  Remember, just because you carry a gun, that does not mean you will be safe in the critical seconds it takes to draw it.

Here are some other things to remember:

  • You will need to know how to counter moves designed to throw you from the wheelchair before you can draw the gun.
  • It is also very important to take self defense classes that will teach you how to defend yourself on the ground.
  • Always practice situational awareness.
  • You will be the most vulnerable when getting in and out of a vehicle.  People traveling with you should be aware that you have a gun.  Use practice drills so that everyone knows what to do in a situation where someone is trying to harm or rob you.

Many of these points also apply to someone who uses a cane, crutches, walker, or other aid.  If you have limited use of your legs, make sure you practice staying on your feet during the process of drawing, aiming, and firing.

If you find yourself having trouble maintaining your balance while drawing and aiming a firearm, try to practice drawing and firing with one hand while using your other hand to maintain your balance and support yourself with your walking aid.

Shotgun Cane
Hiding a shotgun in your cane, while very James Bond, is probably illegal in your state.

You may also want to practice shooting from a prone position to ensure you are still able to use your gun in a defensive situation after you have been knocked down by an assailant.

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 Tip #3: Shooting With Chronic Pain

Arthritis and other forms of chronic pain can make it very hard to shoot and practice shooting.  Aside from the pain, you should also consider the effects of the medication you are using.

Do they make you dizzy or cause your eyesight to blur?  If you have these problems, then it will be best not to shoot until you are no longer under the influence.

soldier with gun meme
Mixing guns and drugs can go poorly, quickly.


It is also very important to consider your tolerance for pain and how long it will take to recover.  There are several ways you can maximize range time without causing unnecessary pain.

Here are some things to consider:

    • Use shorter sessions spread over a longer period of time.
    • Make use of exercises that allow you to stretch and relax your muscles between sessions.
    • Use Airsoft systems or other methods that do not expose you to recoil while practicing.  You can use these parts of your range time for improving accuracy and drilling scenarios. Even though you will still need to do some live firing, Airsoft practice will allow you to familiarize yourself with the motions of drawing, aiming, and firing without dealing with recoil that could exacerbate conditions such as arthritis.
  • Always be aware of your concentration levels.  If you feel tired or achy, it is time to stop your practice session as you will be distracted, and that is when accidents happen.

 Tip #4: Shooting With Impairments of the Hands, Arms, or Shoulder

Even though you may have impairments in your hands, arms, or shoulders, it is possible for you to shoot well.  These few simple tricks and accessories will help all but the most severely disabled shooters have an easier time with firearms, whether at the range, or in a self-defense scenario.

 Here are some things to try with pistols that will get you through each of the main stages of shooting:

Loading the magazine

 From my experience, I recommend all shooters invest in an universal speed loader.  I use the MagLula magazine loader, and find it both durable and easy to use. 

MagLula Mag Loader
MagLula Mag Loader

Pulling Back the Slide

If you have a weakness in your hands or wrist, it can be very hard to pull back a pistol slide.  Insofar as accessories, I recommend the Brass Stacker Slide Pull ($75.00)from TGR Enterprises.

This accessory attaches to the serrations on the back of the pistol slide.  Once attached, put your finger into the circular hole and pull straight back to work the slide.

Brass stacker slide pull
Brass Stacker Slide Pull


The Brass Stacker Slide Pull is great for anyone with limited use of their hands.  I have personally seen it used with great effectiveness by a former military police officer who only retains the use of one finger on his support hand.

The Brass Stacker, along with a lighter recoil spring, allows him to operate a wide variety of pistols with ease.

Aiming the Pistol

Even though you may be able to use the sights on your firearm, aftermarket systems may help you save time and make your life easier.

In particular, I recommend night sights for all defensive handguns, but especially for those who may have trouble aiming due to compromised motor control, or poor eye sight.

Green Tritium Night Sights
Night Sights like these can improve the shooting experience for anyone with less than perfect eye sight.

You can also use red dot sights such as the Trijicon RMR ($585.00) or the Burris Fastfire 3 ($185) to get on target quickly, and have an easier time making shots at longer distances.

As a side note, these things are great for competition, hunting, and any other application where fast target acquisition is a must.  I highly recommend trying one out and getting a feel for it.

Trijicon RMR
Trijicon RMR

If you really want to take the guesswork out of shooting, especially if you have motor control issues, you may also want to take a look at universal laser sights such as those made by Crimson Trace ($140.00)

Crimson Trace Universal Laser
Crimson Trace Universal Laser

Shooting Your Firearm

A lack of strength in the fingers is a devastating disability for shooters, and in the past would preclude you from using most firearm at all.

Fortunately, there are now many useful accessories that can help you overcome this.  For example, the Adaptive Outdoorsman Finger Control Device ($75) is a trigger finger prosthetic that lets you more easily use your wrist and arm strength to work the trigger of a firearm without throwing off your aim.

Adaptive Outdoorsman Trigger Finger Prosthetic
Adaptive Outdoorsman Trigger Finger Prosthetic

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  Tip #5:  Choose the Right Holster

If you are in a wheelchair, or must rely on some other walking aide, reaching behind to access a gun can be very difficult.  Wheelchair arms and other parts of a walking aide can also make it hard to pull a gun from a holster located to the side.

There are four holster types that work well for concealed carry in these situations:

  • Fanny Pack Holsters – These holsters look like a regular fanny pack.  A fanny pack can be of use if you fall or become separated from your walking aide. No matter where you go, the fanny pack will still be on your body.  As long as you can get to the pack and open it, you will be able to draw your gun.  Of course, it can also be used to carry a first aid kit, medication, and various other sundries that you may need, or want to have on you.
Fanny Pack Holster
We strongly recommend the 5.11 Select Carry Holster ($34.99)  for this purpose.
  • Shoulder Holsters – These holsters are ideal if you are in a wheelchair and must draw the gun while seated.  As with any new holster, you will need to practice a bit to make sure you have the draw down.  We recommend a Safariland Universal Shoulder Holster ($73.00).
Safariland makes a number of excellent holsters for carry or competition.

Regardless of the holster type and material, it is very important to practice drawing.  Make sure the gun is not loaded and that you are in a safe place.

You should practice in every position you might find yourself in, and once you master stationary positions, do not forget to practice drawing while moving.  These drills can save your life, but are often overlooked in favor of other skills.
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  Tip #6: Investigate Other Firearm Accessories for People with Disabilities

Caldwell’s Deadshot FieldPods can make any day at the range or in a deer stand much easier for those who don’t have full use of their upper body.  These adjustable tripods will hold the weapon for you.

Caldwell Deadshot FieldPod
Caldwell Deadshot FieldPod

You can buy ones that can hold a pistol, rifle, or shotgun.  They are as stable as a regular benchrest and are useful for target shooting, hunting, and even maintaining your firearm.
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Over the years, I have helped numerous disabled people find the right tools to shoot and maintain guns.  If you have a disability and are able to shoot, please feel free to leave a comment below and I will do my best to help if I can. I’d also love to here from anyone who has another solution to any of these problems, as it may help someone else where my advice falls short.

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22 Leave a Reply

  • Commenter Avatar
    Darcy Tuttle

    My husband is right handed and this past week he had a pacemaker put in place in his right shoulder. His left arm has a fistula for his dialysis, which leaves that arm bot usable. I am looking for an adaptive device or something that he can use that will not touch his right shoulder with the pacemaker

    August 27, 2022 6:57 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Micheal Wyatt

    May I pick your brain? I'm an incomplete quad who has one good hand. Getting into trap amd skeet. Was wondering if you has any pointers.

    September 5, 2021 6:53 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Drew Terral Loftin

      i have tetra paresis caused by a tbi and ive shot a Rem 1100 semi auto 12ga one handed before, if you lightened it up with synthetic stocks and went with a 16 or 20 gauge im sure it would be much more manageable or found a lighter shotgun because 1100s are kind of heavy, in your situation im not sure if you can work a pump, i cant bc my left arm is weak, or you can go with an over/under or side by side double barrel but then youll be limited to two shots... I hope this helps in some sort of way!!

      May 14, 2022 10:45 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Gregory S Dawson

    My issue is I survived a massive ischemic stroke in 2012 that left me paralyzed on my left side. I have little to no use in my left arm or hand. I also have drop foot which means I have trouble walking. Basically I need my wife around just in case but, would really like to get into competition shooting. I'm in the process of building my PCC from graduating fromSDI. Any Dvice?

    January 27, 2021 5:30 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Drew Terral Loftin

      Im in a wheelchair bc of a tbi and have tetra paresis, I have a Glock model 24 that i most of the time shoot one handed, its a .40cal but the 6" barrel and the reduced power recoil spring i have in it make it easier to shoot and pull the slide back with my weak hand, the good thing about Glock is the aftermarket parts, they have slide racking helpers which work out great for ppl with disabilities, you can also find a variety of guide rods and recoil springs to help with recoil if thats a problem you're having. I hope this helps!!

      May 14, 2022 10:58 am
  • Commenter Avatar

    I'm right hand dominant & I lost my thumb, index & half of my middle finger, this is not to mention extensive nerve pain. TruGlo sells glow sights, the back sight can hook onto your belt, allowing you to rack the slide. You run the slide down your hip, till the rear sight snags the belt, push down & you've racked your pistol slide single handedly!! However, since I have minimal movement in my wrist, which makes it difficult for me to control a carbine/AR style pistol, without a vertical grip. I know there are special exceptions for people with disabilities, I wonder if I could legally use a vertical grip on my AR pistol!? That's something I need to contact the ATF of State AG about I guess!? God bless

    September 26, 2020 8:31 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    My wife has limited hand strength. And poor recoil control.. I'm looking for a brace of some kind. So she can shoulder a pistol or some kind of forearm brace..
    Can't seam to find anything.. She shoots from her wheelchair. Quite well but can only handle low to no recoil

    December 12, 2019 6:24 am
    • Commenter Avatar

      I don't have a whole lot of experience, but have you tried the stiffer wrist braces? Might be somewhat helpful. And I really hope she's doing all right.

      January 1, 2020 11:59 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Rebecca Clark

    Have you heard of anyone having success with a weighted mag extender to help with recoil?

    I tore the tendons in my elbows and have a 10% permanent loss. I'm looking for something to help.

    July 30, 2019 2:18 am
  • Commenter Avatar

    Fred great article! I'm wondering if you can give me some advice. I was in an accident about two years ago that left me a C5 quadriplegic. I still have my extremely large firearm collection and am just now getting off my ass to try and use them again. I have been through a number of different tripod set ups and custom wheelchair rigs designed to hold the rifle for you however they all feel awkward and I want to be able to shoot as normal as possible. I need to have the feel of the stock pressed against my cheek! I have shoulders and biceps with no hand control. My current set up is a 9 inch 300 blackout suppressed that I have taken the stock and applied a 1.5 inch PVC pipe cut down the middle and fixed it to the top of the stock so that it extends past the buttplate and allows the rear rifle to rest on the top of my shoulder without falling down. I use a vanguard monopod to support the front of the rifle and it allows me to get some range of motion from left to right. I'm using the adaptive outdoorsman finger control device to pull The trigger but I'm running into problems. Two big problems that I need to figure out a better way to pull the trigger. The biggest problem is that I run into is bump firing a lot were I will fire off two to four rounds uncontrolled. The other problem is that I seem to have a significant amount of feed issues where it will not chamber the next round. I can't figure out what my hand is doing to cause this. It's not a rifle or an ammunition issue as I have my father test it out right after I have a feed issue and it runs fine for him however when I get it back I have the feed issue again. I also cannot stand not being able to feel the trigger on my finger. I still have slight feeling on my trigger finger so I would love to be able to feel the trigger on my finger. I'm wondering if you know some individuals or companies that would work with me on building a better set up to keep the rifle in my shoulder and a better set up to hold my finger out while allowing me to feel the trigger. Again I want to be able to shoot as normal as possible!

    September 10, 2018 8:59 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      Michael Moore

      Hi Dustin. I was paralysed (T4) in a wreck 24 years ago. I don’t face the same challenges you do, but I have had to overcome several shooting obstacles. When I was in rehab, they had a sip-n-puff trigger for the fellows with higher injuries. Not your ideal since you want to feel the trigger, but I thought it worth mentioning. I would suggest trying to mount that adaptive outdoorsman device on top of your finger rather than the bottom as it’s supposed to mount. If you can figure a way to do that, it would provide support while allowing you to get your finger directly on the trigger. If it can’t be modified to mount that way, let me know and I’ll model and 3D print something that would mount like that.

      Your feed issue sounds recoil related as the rifle is allowed to bounce off your shoulder. I would suggest modifying your PVC rig with some sort of sling that could snug the stock butt against your shoulder. That should hopefully help a bit with the trigger bump on recoil as well.

      Hope that helps.

      December 9, 2018 7:19 pm
      • Commenter Avatar
        Jason Dupuis

        Michael Moore, not sure if this is going to get to you but I am starting a company which hopes to address the challenges you and DustinH have. I have my FFL 07 manufactures license and the mission of the business J&R Specialty Gunsmiths here in WA state is to make shooting i.e. holding a rifle, pistol or other weapon easier for wounded vets and handicapped. I have great vendors who we could get inline with for a solution. There are so many people with disabilities that prevent them from enjoying the sport of shooting or hunting and a PVC pipe shouldn't be what they have to depend on. I'd like to speak with you and other people with the same challenges. The fact that you're using 3D printing is a great idea! I can be reached at jrgunsmiths@gmail.com.

        August 15, 2019 6:48 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    John Grayman

    What happened to Tip #7? You know, the part about finding the right handgun?

    August 10, 2018 4:48 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Joel Tangunan

    Hi Fred Tyrell! Thank you for this wonderful artcle! I'm Joel from the Philippines. A severe polio victim since one year and nine months old. I'm been thinking of owning a gun but my situation somehow doesn't permit me. I've been searching around what kind of gun that fit to my condition till I found your article entitled: 6 Helpful Tips for Disabled Shooters dated April 18, 2017. It really helps me a lot but most of the accessories you've mentioned are not available here.

    I hope I can have a personal contact with you through email so I can ask you more questions. Thank you and more power to you!

    July 2, 2018 12:21 am
  • Commenter Avatar

    What is a good gun with less recoil? I am paralyzed in fingers.

    June 6, 2018 10:14 am
    • Commenter Avatar

      LaJon I'm using a suppressed 300 Blackout with subsonic ammunition that I force my kids to help me load.

      September 10, 2018 8:38 am
  • Commenter Avatar

    I am a disabled hunter in search of something that will allow me no recoil as I have an implant on my dorsal root ganglia. I've been hunting for 35 years and would very much like to make it 36 this year. I normally used a 243. Any help would be very much appreciated. Thank you

    November 1, 2017 1:53 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Dan Dingfelder

    Lots of useful information in this article. As a disabled shooter, I don't see alot of articles dealing with this issue. I walk with a cane in my right hand, which is also my draw hand. This posed a problem but only for a short while! I retrained myself to cross draw with my left. I really enjoy shooting and practice 3-4 times per week. Long range is my "new" found love though! Wish there was a 3-gun for people with disabilities!! Maybe a PewPew Tactical disability Match in the future??!!

    June 16, 2017 7:26 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      Joel Tangunan

      I agre with you Dan! This one really deals with the specific issue.

      July 2, 2018 12:23 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    David A Matz

    Excellent, thoughtfully addressed, and practical. Thank you!

    April 21, 2017 5:39 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Matthew Collins

      No problem, we're glad we could help!

      April 22, 2017 4:53 pm
      • Commenter Avatar
        Joel Tangunan

        It really helps alot. Thanks!

        July 2, 2018 12:24 am
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