- Published on Tuesday, 08 July 2014 00:27
- Written by Super User
The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission recently worked with disabled sportsmen to field test nine new all-terrain wheelchairs, or “track chairs,” at the John E. Pechmann Fishing Education Center in Fayetteville.
Disabled sportsmen tested the Action TrackChairsTM at four activity stations — fishing, archery, air rifle range and wildlife watching — to assess the chairs’ capabilities and provide input on user guidelines and an operational manual that the Wildlife Commission is developing for the general public. In addition to testing the track chairs at activity stations, disabled sportsmen test drove the chairs on different terrain and at different speeds to evaluate the chairs’ maneuverability. “With treads instead of wheels and a top speed of 5 mph, the track chairs are designed to go just about anywhere — on loose soil, over woody debris, over gravel and across muddy terrain, which increases outdoor opportunities for the disabled,” said Kristopher Smith, the director of the Pechmann Center. “After trying out the chairs for a couple of hours, participants let us know how well the chairs performed under different circumstances to give us input on user guidelines that we are developing for the track chairs to be used at Wildlife Commission game lands and education centers across the state.”
Eleven sportsmen with varying levels of experience and expertise at fishing and hunting attended the evaluation on Saturday. While they said they felt safe in the chair and it worked well over different types of terrain, the majority of participants recommended a trial run before first-time users take track chairs into the field.
“We’ll definitely have sportsmen review user guidelines with Commission staff and then take the track chairs for a test drive around the education center before they travel across our compound where all of our ponds are located,” Smith said. “One of our field testers told me that the track chairs are very stable and extremely maneuverable, but practice in the parking lot will make users more comfortable in the field.”
After the Commission has completed its user guidelines and operational manual later this summer, it will distribute the track chairs to its four education centers and some game land depots across the state. The battery-operated chairs will be available at no cost on a first-come, first-serve basis by this fall when the Commission anticipates increased user requests from disabled hunters, anglers and other outdoor enthusiasts.
More information will be available online, including instructions on borrowing track chairs and locations of track chairs, under the “Hunting” link on the home page.
The track chairs cost $10,200 each and were donated to the Commission as a result of efforts by members of the N.C. Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus, as well as the following businesses: Barnhill Family Foundation; Bass Pro Shops; Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina; Camp-Younts Foundation; Golden Corral; Grady White Boats; Flanders Corporation; Murphy Family Farms; N.C. Sportsmen’s Caucus; N.C. Wildlife Habitat Foundation; Phil Ellis and Associates AND Wilco-Hess
“The availability of innovative new equipment such as these track chairs would not be possible without the generosity of donors,” said Mallory Martin, chief deputy director of the Wildlife Resources Commission. “Our partnership with these conservation-minded donors enables our agency to provide disabled sportsmen with better access to fishing, hunting and wildlife-watching opportunities.”