Blind marksman hits target for medal win

thisisoxfordshire: Tim Gebbels. Picture: OX55170 Ed Nix Buy this photo Tim Gebbels. Picture: OX55170 Ed Nix

BLIND marksman Tim Gebbels aimed for his first gold medal in a national shooting competition and was right on target.

The 44-year-old from Cowley beat competition from all over the country to win division six in the 2011/12 Winter National VI Postal League and picked up his medal yesterday.

Mr Gebbels, who has been blind since the age of five, uses special audio technology to help him identify the key areas on the target and completed his rounds at Maidenhead-based charity SportsAble where he trains.

He said: “I am very proud and the medal can go with my other medals on the mantelpiece.

“I started shooting because I wanted to do something a bit more sporty.

“It is challenging. You are shooting over 10 metres at something maybe the size of a 10p piece. It does need strength and quite a lot of skill.”

Mr Gebbels, who competes in national contests, says he travels to SportsAble because clubs in Oxford do not have the technology he uses.

He said: “When I decided to give shooting a try I looked around but couldn’t find a club in Oxford.

“When I found SportsAble I thought that it was a bit of a long trek but decided to try it out anyway.

“When I got there I discovered how great it was and have enjoyed being a member ever since.”

To assist visually impaired contestants like Mr Gebbels, SportsAble installed a simple piece of technology which, when activated from the top of the sight on the gun, emits a sound.

The closer the marksman gets to the target the higher the sound becomes and the further away from the target they are, the pitch becomes lower.

Visually impaired shooting is not a Paralympic sport, but Mr Gebbels believes it should be.

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He said: “It is a sport like any other. Why not give us the Paralympics to aim for?”

SportsAble’s air weapons head coach Alan Kenny said: “Visually impaired people have a great sense of touch and amazing hearing.

“They respond really well with the initial coaching and are soon off on their own.

“To find a high note within a high note on the target locating device takes some concentration. I’ve tried it and afterwards you are really exhausted.

“The competition that he won was huge – there were people from all over Great Britain taking part.”

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