Wheelchair user takes innovation out deer hunting


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Drizzt
January 6, 2003, 05:49 PM
Copyright 2003 Detroit Free Press
All Rights Reserved

Detroit Free Press

January 2, 2003 Thursday 0 EDITION

LENGTH: 443 words

HEADLINE: Man gets a second shot at sport;
Wheelchair user takes innovation out deer hunting

BYLINE: BY MARY OWEN; FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER

BODY:
Chris Meadows had always wanted to go deer hunting with his friends and family during Michigan's 15 days of firearms hunting in November.

But because his arms have been weakened by muscular dystrophy, Meadows couldn't hold up a gun. Then he heard about a device made by Nebraska-based SR77 Enterprises that attaches to a wheelchairand holds a rifle. Now he has shot two deer in two years -- something most of his friends and family haven't done. With the help of innovation and technology, hunting is one of many sports in which people with disabilities now can participate.

"It was always something I wanted to do, but couldn't," said Meadows, 24, of Shelby Township.

With his friend Chris Corrado of Warren, he does typical guy things: playing video games, brewing beer, going to bars and movies. But hunting was something the friends couldn't do together.

"I would talk to Chris about hunting, and he'd always say it was something that he wanted to do," said Corrado, 25, who has known Meadows since middle school and who has hunted for 10 years.

Corrado's father, Paul Corrado of Warren, led fund-raising efforts for the $1,600 needed for the SR77 shooting rest and a rifle. The shooting rest attaches to Meadows' wheelchair. The motorized device has a joystick that controls movement of the rifle. A tube triggers the rifle when Meadows inhales.

Meadows has used the shooting rest for the last two firearms seasons. This November, he shot a 170-pound, 9-point buck.

"Shooting a buck of that size is a once-in-a-lifetime thing for anyone," Paul Corrado said. "For him to shoot one is extra special. He's catching up to me. I've shot three, and he's already got two."

Meadows' appetite for hunting grew three years ago when he tagged along to Paul Corrado's cottage in Clare County. Corrado built a ramp and a path leading from his cabin to a wheelchair-accessible hunting blind, the well-insulated shack where hunters can wait for deer.

Then, Meadows sought to have a robotics company build something that could help him hold and aim a rifle, but he found out that even with donated services, the parts would cost between $2,000 and $4,000. While searching for funding, Meadows spoke to a local National Rifle Association member who told him about Bob Bowen, a paraplegic in Nebraska who has designed and sold more than 200 shooting rests since 1978.

Meadows, a 2000 Michigan State University telecommunication graduate, said his plans include looking into ways to take up bow hunting. SR77 shooting rests now cost $1,100. For information, visit www.sr77.com

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