Inspired to succeed

John Walker was inspired to take up archery after watching the Paralympic Games in London 2012. Four years later he won Individual and Team Gold medals in the Rio Games in 2016. Now, John has returned to his first passion, rifle shooting, and is hoping to replicate his success at Tokyo 2020.

“While serving in the British Army’s Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers Corp I found I excelled in rifle shooting. I could even shoot a 25mm group at 300 metres. My time in the Army was amazing, but I was sadly discharged due to injury. After, I worked as a survey engineer on ships and travelled all over the world. While at home on leave in 2011 I took my bike out and had a devastating, life changing accident. This left me with a partially paralysed right arm and multiple injuries that meant I had to use a wheelchair.

While recovering from my injuries, I watched Matt Stutzman compete in Archery at the London 2012 Paralympic Games. As I was watching I thought ‘I could do that’. I decided to make a shoulder harness with a release mechanism which allowed me to shoot with one arm. At my very first shoot I was spotted by the head coach at Archery GB and asked to join the squad. Within 5 years, I then went on to become European, World and Paralympic Champion. After my success in Rio, I was invited to Buckingham Palace and awarded my MBE.

My passion for rifle shooting has never left me but I wasn’t sure if I could still do it after the accident. I found Rugeley Rifle Club and a brilliant coach in Martyn Buttery, also ELEY’s Customer Range Manager. After considerable research I bought my rifle and found with my disabilities I could shoot from my wheelchair or bench. So I made my own bench which works perfectly for me. Getting the butt plate in the right position is difficult with no feeling in my shoulder, but it’s a problem I’m determined to solve.

My ambition now is to become successful in two different sports: archery and rifle shooting. I believe that if you are focused and determined enough, no matter what your disability, you can achieve success. There are always clubs out there with disability awareness and the feeling of shooting is something everyone should try.

Never give up, dreams can be achieved.”

John Walker MBE