A few weeks ago, Australia gained a new world champion. We caught up with the very busy and very talented Scottie Brydon not long after he returned from Italy where he won Gold at the first World Shooting Para Sport Trap Championships.
Open to athletes who have a physical impairment, Para Trap Shooting is based on the Olympic Trap discipline made famous in Australia by double Gold winning Olympian Michael Diamond.
Athletes use a shotgun and score by shooting clay targets propelled into the air at over 100kph. It doesn’t sound or look easy. You need speed, strength, superb reflexes, and lots of nerve. Now try that while strapped into a wheelchair!
The Para Trap PT1 classification that Scottie Brydon won is for athletes doing exactly that. To be eligible for PT1, all athletes have an impairment in their lower limbs, but no functional limitation in the upper limbs.
A keen and successful sportsman, Scottie was paralysed from the chest down when racing his dirt bike in 2011.
Having represented Australia in lawn bowls at Junior International Level and played cricket to a high standard, sport had been an important part of Scottie’s life and he wasn’t going to let his disability stop him from participating again.
The only question was, which sport?
Finding a New Sport
As Brydon explains, shooting wasn’t his first option:
“I tried wheelchair basketball but, living in Cobar at the time, it wasn’t easy finding enough teammates.”
“I knew from cricket that my hand-eye coordination was pretty good, and I’d always liked the idea of shooting, but before my accident I had been too busy with other sports.”
Brydon initially competed with people without disability in Cobar when he started shooting in 2015.
“At one event, I met someone who, I can honestly say, changed the course of my life… and I’ve been competing with him ever since! More importantly, he became my coach, mentor, friend and even boss.”
A New Home, A New Boss, A New Coach
A talented shooter in his own right, Greg Harris met Scottie later in 2015 and they immediately hit it off. Greg recognised Brydon’s talent and drive to improve, and set about enabling his development.
First up, Scottie needed to move closer to the right facilities. Living near Canberra, Greg was familiar with the city’s Olympic-standard range.
Moving home and finding a job as someone with a disability isn’t easy, but Greg also solved that problem. He knew a hard worker when we met one, and Scottie became an employee and then manager of Greg’s weed spraying business.
Scottie’s work involves using an off-road buggy (pictured above), applying weed-killer accurately whilst driving through the fields of a range of clients.
And this is where Total Ability entered the story. Scottie would find it near-impossible to do his weed spraying job well if it hadn’t been for the Fadiel Satellite Accelerator that Total Ability imports from Italy.
“The Satellite Accelerator enables me to safely steer and use the accelerator with one hand while I use the other hand to operate the weed killing application.”
“I wouldn’t be too popular with Greg’s clients if I sprayed the wrong plants. The idea is to kill weeds, not crops!”
Outside of work, Scottie also needs his car for travelling to and from practise at the range, as well as to events, so has a second Satellite Accelerator for his on-road car.
“I do a lot of driving, and I find that the Satellite Accelerator is far less tiring to use compared to other systems.”
Practise Makes Perfect
Dedication to his sport means Brydon trains two to four days a week, and from two to six hours per day, with especially long days on weekends.
It’s this hard work that has enabled Brydon to become a world champion in under three years since adopting the sport.
“Having hand-eye coordination is a good start, but there really is no substitute for spending time at the range.”
And if you have seen a Para Trap athlete in action, you’ll understand that it is hard work. Firing a shotgun repeatedly from a sitting position means that Scottie is strapped into his chair to deal with the recoil.
Being paralysed from the chest down means his arms and shoulders are literally doing the heavy lifting. Maintaining a World Champion standard of accuracy under pressure explains the many hours at the range.
Big 12 Months Ahead
The year ahead sees Scottie back on the road … and in the air.
“We have a big year coming up starting with the Al Ain 2019 World Shooting Para Sport World Cup in the United Arab Emirates in February.”
“I’m also really excited because the next World Championship is being held in Sydney in October. To represent Australia in Australia is certainly keeping me motivated!”
The cost of travelling overseas for competitions initially required Scottie to search for sponsorship, so we asked him whether his success has made life any easier.
“I’m certainly in a better position than when I started, but there is room for more sponsors to come on board. And with the Sydney games later this year, I think my sponsors will be getting fantastic exposure.”
“I’m completely focussed on giving myself the best possible chance of backing up in 2019. It’ll be tough, but I’ll be defending my title with everything I’ve got. I’m also lucky that I have an understanding boss!”
Practise for these events was also a good reason to finish our interview with Scottie. The range was beckoning and Greg was also itching for their latest bout: the two have maintained a healthy rivalry as shooters, and every practise ends in competition.
“We’re about even. The winner changes pretty much every week. I let Greg stand, but he still can’t beat me consistently. It’s fierce competition and the loser has to buy the treats on the way back from the range.”
It’s certainly a formula that is working for Scottie and Greg. We will be following their progress throughout the year ahead and will be sure to update you on the Total Ability Facebook page.