Adaptive Shooting

Tri-X-Stand™ Adaptive Shooting System

Wheelchair shooting platform!

Hello, my name is Ernest G. Wilson II, my friends call me Ernie (same name as my dad and my son).  Many years ago a tragic accident resulted in a lifetime of being in a wheelchair.  Like so many people in a wheelchair, I have come to terms with the fact that some things are too hard to do (or just plain not possible).  As a quadriplegic, this means nearly all the outdoor hunting and fishing things I once enjoyed are off the table.  Recently, I have been determined to find some fishing areas that are wheelchair friendly (more on this topic as it develops, the search goes on).  I had several discussions with my dad (one of the greatest outdoors-man in Pennsylvania, if not the greatest) while working on his website for the Tri-X-Stand.   After watching his work evolve through many iterations and rapidly becoming the defacto standard for a stable mobile shooting system, a quantum leap for the platform happened as evolutionary became revolutionary.

I asked if the top of the Tri-X-Stand that allows for the free moving smooth motion was called a “gimbal” or what?  After some discussion of whether or not this was a gimbal or set of gimbals, we agreed on the word “Gimball“(yes two Ls as in “ball” since the ball on the base was one reason this system glides smoothly in all directions).  So the Gimball© name was born (but this is just the beginning of the story, more interesting details follow).  It turns out that like many things on the Internet, questions pour in from various people and the Tri-X-Stand is no exception: “Can I mount your platform on any old tri-pod I have laying around?” Well, the answer is NO, but this leads to a very interesting side benefit.  You see, to create a highly stable yet adjustable shooting platform, a versatile but light weight piece of extruded aluminum is used.  It turns out that this method lends itself very well to creating individual components that can be interchanged to deploy the shooting platform (and Gimball) into a variety of very convenient scenarios.  For example, not just on the purpose built Tri-X-Stand’s Ranger Deluxe tripod, but also on a ground blind, deer blind, window mount and low and behold on a wheelchair!

One overcast day in June 2011, my dad stopped over for a “trial fitting” for the shooting platform to be adapted to my wheelchair.  Even in the brief few moments that I had to try the system in my backyard as overcast turned to rain and even though I was only using my son’s pellet rifle and 3x scope, a few things became clear to me that day:

  1. I could use a much more powerful gun in the future and recoil would not be a factor since the rest carries the load and does most of the work
  2. I could turn and actually aim and shoot in a very unrestricted way for the first time since being in a wheelchair
  3. A huge hurdle that stopped me from going hunting or even just going to the range with friends and family had just been solved

The first fitting and trial was over in minutes as a steady summer rain called an end to day one.  A week or so later and with a vacation day planned for Tuesday July 5, my dad and a more refined version of the wheelchair adapted Tri-X-Stand system arrived.  A perfect 72F day with even cloud cover and light breeze was just the icing on the cake.  Comfortable pads and a perfectly adjusted shooting platform easily mounted on my reclining wheelchair with swing away foot rests.  A short drive to the range and soon, the proof would be in the pudding! 

A sweet .17 caliber (a real center fire, not it’s little brother rim fire) bolt action rifle with 16x scope was placed in the wheelchair adapted Tri-X-Stand shooting system as I faced my wheelchair towards the 100yd target.  A brief safety lecture about this gun’s special light pressure trigger system was barely heard, it may have been the ear plugs, was 100yds always this far away?  My heart was pounding as I tried to hold firmly on the bulls-eye and gently squeeze off my first rifle shot in over 20 years. One loud piercing crack and almost instantly I could see my shot very close to the mark (within a few inches)!  First, let me say that this gun is extremely fast, over 4000fps (greater than mach 3.6), so at 100yds, the trajectory is nearly flat.  Put another way, when you pull the trigger, it feels and looks like the bullet hits the target almost instantaneously.  Put yet another way, a perfect platform, a superior tuned gun and scope and excellent weather conditions meant that the only variable in this equation was me!  No pressure!  And that is when a few more things became clear to me:

  1. It is now possible for me to shoot a rifle from my wheelchair with extreme accuracy and relative ease
  2. I could now go to the range with my family and friends and actually compete

After about a dozen rounds with the .17 caliber, it was time to bring out a more typical .223 caliber with 9x scope.  A new target was setup and and it was time to see if I was capable of keeping a group.


Well, 6 shots later and all within 2 inches at 100yds!  Not a bad first day!

Now, I have a few new things to think about!

Update: My PA hunting license for 2011-2012 has arrived!
Okay, I went a little overboard, I got my hunting license, fur takers license and I just sent away for my antlerless tag!  20 years ago, something was taken away from me.  Now, with my wheelchair adapted Tri-X-Stand, I got back a part of my life.
You can too! Click here to get yours

Now, if anybody knows of any places that allow easy access for wheelchairs, please let me know!
Email: ErnestGWilsonII at gmail dot com

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