Contents

1940- Sept 2018

Paul competed at the Atlanta 1996 Summer Games in target air rifle but an injury prevented him from continuing. His legacy was lobbying for clay shooting to become a recognised Paralympic sport.

Early life

Paul was born in 1940 and first learned to shoot as a teenager (2.2 rifle gun) when he was in the army for 18 months but was invalided out with an ankle injury. It wasn’t until later on in his life that he would rediscover his love for shooting. Paul had an accident in July 1985 while he was working as a bus driver in Brighton. He hit a huge hole in the road jarring his back. His condition consequently deteriorated and within 5 years of the accident he was in a wheelchair permanently. However, he never let this bring him down as Paul’s mantra was:

I’m disabled not unabled

He met his wife Pam prior to the accident in February 1985, when they both started playing archery at St Dunstan’s, they became engaged and were married by October. Pam and her children became keen on archery, playing at county level for Surrey and then Sussex.

Life as a Paralympic athlete

Paul began shooting in 1992 when Dorothy Ripley introduced him to the sport after he visited Stoke Mandeville to join the Disabled Archers group. Dorothy competed in archery and shooting and Paul became hooked on the sport when she took him to see the shooting range. Paul subsequently spent a lot of time training at both Stoke Mandeville and Wakefield with shooting coach, Steph Parkes, and the ‘Pinderfields fellowship’, Wakefield and he went on to compete internationally in shooting for Great Britain.

In 1996, Paul as part of the Paralympic GB team, went to compete at the Atlanta Summer Games. He was 12th in the world in his sport ‘target air rifle’ and was a medal hopeful. He had to raise his own funds to participate with the support of the local Lions club, Freemasons and businesses. Prior to the start of the Paralympics the shooting team trained at the naval base at Pensacola, Florida.

 

Paul at the Atlanta Paralympics training camp

Although Paul had a promising start to the competition he was forced to stop competing after injuring his wrist helping a teammate out of bed. A year after, he had to have an operation on his wrist and he continued to have many more problems with his arm leading to thumb reconstruction and an elbow replacement. 

 

Paul at the Opening Ceremony of the Atlanta 1996 Games and on his return home.

Recollections

At 55 years old Paul was picked for the ParalympicsGB shooting team to compete at the Atlanta 1996 Paralympic Games. He said to The Argus newspaper:

My biggest ambition was to be picked. It's great, almost unbelievable as I only started four years ago . . .You practise and practise to get it right, about four to five hours a day. I want that gold for myself, my family and Britain.

Paul's legacy

After the Atlanta 1996 Games Paul started shooting clay target but there weren't many disabled clay shooting events to attend so he spent the following years trying to get these events set up internationally. He initially put in a request to include it at Antwerp with a presentation to the Committee, but it was rejected as some feared that it would push air target out as a sport.

Paul continued to push for the sport and gained support from other countries including; Finland, Australia, New Zealand and America but then he fell ill. However, he did get the first Mini International Disabled Clay Competition event put on in Britain. Paul played a key role in the early stages of lobbying for clay shooting to become part of the Paralympics. He joined Northall Club in Sussex and they built a new club to accommodate the sport and he became Chair of the ‘Sussex Disabled CPSA’. Other people then took on the fight to get the sport recognised and Italy put on the first world championship in 2011 which is an incredible achievement.

Paul sadly died of cancer in September 2018. Pam Pantzer said of Paul:

He would be delighted to see that Clay target shooting will be recognised as a sport at the 2024 Paralympic Games.

Achievements and awards

Great Britain Shooting Team at the 1994 IPC World Championships in Austria

As part of the Great Britain shooting team Paul competed in air rifle at the 1992, 1993, 1994 and 1996 British Wheelchair Sports Foundation (BWSF) National Championships. Internationally he competed at the 1994 IPC World Championships in Austria, the 1995 and 1996 Dutch Open Championships.

 

Paul and his medals at the 1996 Dutch Open

References

  • https://www.paralympic.org/shooting/para-trap-shooting
  • https://www.paralympic.org/atlanta-1996/results/shooting/mens-air-rifle-3x40-sh1
  • https://www.paralympic.org/atlanta-1996/results/shooting/mixed-air-rifle-prone-sh1
  • The Argus Newspaper, Wednesday 21st February 1996
  • Pull! Magazine, March 2009
  • Conversation with Pam Pantzer, 16th October 2019