SHOOTING has given double amputee Bill Johnson a new lease on life.
The Warrnambool Field and Game Club member lost both his legs in a road crash 36 years ago, but he refuses to let the incident dictate his life.
He shot as a teenager and took up the sport again five years ago.
He wishes he had done so earlier.
“Getting in a wheelchair, I needed something. Shooting gave me an option and opportunity,” Johnson said.
“It’s got a great team of support, very good people and a very good club.”
Johnson will be part of a 27-shooter squad which will compete at the national championships in Seymour this weekend.
The 66-year-old left Warrnambool on Thursday and will fire at 150 targets over two days in the veterans’ section.
But he faces more challenges than the clay targets rising into the sky.
Getting around the central Victorian range is another task, as Johnson will be shooting in Seymour for the first time.
“I’ll have some help. It’s a credit to the Warrnambool club who really help me out and shoot with me and make sure I’m right,” he said.
“Their first question is always ‘is Bill OK?’ I’m very lucky.
“Some of the times they shoot from platforms where it’s a stairway. The fellas help me up and I sit down on a chair on the top of the platform and shoot.
“Most grounds that I have shot have really looked after me.
“The one problem I have from time to time is I tire towards the end of a long day. If it’s 100 shots or more, I end up very tired.”
Johnson retired last year after working for Western District Employment Access for 22 years, which included time as director of disability services.
His work with people with a disability earned him Rotary International’s Shine On award. He is also secretary of the Warrnambool Angling Club.
Johnson took up darts after his crash “but it’s hard on the stumps”.
“I’ve just had a great time. Shooting has been terrific,” he said.
“It gives me a passion, something to do in my life.
“I hope to do all right (at nationals). I go there in anticipation.
“It’s a sport that is very much like golf. You can go out there one day and shine and the next day you can come back with boiled lollies.
“The last shoot I didn’t do so well, but I tend to fire up when it’s very competitive. When the days are not so competitive I tend to go along and have a good time. Once the competition gets tough, I really enjoy it.”