Hunting with an Upper Limb Prosthesis
by Amber Henson, on Jun 6, 2023
Our prosthetists and clinical therapy specialists at Arm Dynamics centers have helped many of their patients return to hunting after an amputation and helped people with limb differences who want to start hunting. This includes using rifles, firearms, crossbows and other gear that goes along with hunting.
In this article, we’ll explore prosthetic options for hunting by amputation level.
Our patient Jeff (pictured above and his hand below) was a clay target shooter before his partial hand amputation. After his accident, he was worried he wouldn’t be able to shoot clay targets or go hunting again. “I don’t have my full strength back in my forearm yet — when I lost my ring and pinky finger, I lost my grip strength.” But the Point Designs digits that his Arm Dynamics specialist fit him with gave him the hand strength to hold onto his firearm with his affected, non-dominant hand.
Alex is also a partial hand amputee, though he has a through-the-palm amputation. While Alex uses i-Digits for his day-to-day activities and for work, he has an activity-specific device created for hunting with a firearm and a crossbow, which you can see in the photos below. The frame that was created for these devices also allows him to attach a device that he uses when he goes fishing.
We have several patients who hunt who have a below the elbow amputation. Some of them use their everyday prosthesis, often body-powered, like a body-powered hook. Others, just like Alex (pictured above), have been fit with an activity-specific device in addition to their everyday device. Our patient Eduardo hunts and forages with his body-powered hook and has a cooking show on the Magnolia Network.
Our patient Jason is a bilateral amputee who hunts with a firearm and a crossbow. He uses his electronic terminal device (ETD) to load the crossbow and his iLimb multi-articulating hand to pull the trigger. In addition, Jason has pretty good aim at the shooting range! He is featured in both photos below:
Nicole, a patient at our Minneapolis Center, has a gun turret device that she uses for target shooting and hunting. It allows her to hold the gun stable with her affected left arm while pulling the trigger with her sound hand (see below).
Our patient Steve was injured on the job and lost his shoulder at the age of 37. “After I got hurt, I figured I wouldn't hunt at all anymore. But my prosthesis, it got me back. At first, learning a new routine was hard. I went 37 years with doing it one way and you got to reprogram. I'm still trying to reprogram and find that new normal.” Steve’s prosthetist was able to help him get back to archery, competitive bow hunting and rifle hunting. “The prosthesis helps me stabilize the weapon I’m using. It takes time to put the device into the right position, but it’s worth it.”
Steve collaborates with his upper limb specialist team to improve the design of his device, frame and socket. “I’ll be out hunting and I’ll think about how my prosthesis can work better for me, how it can be a little more natural to use. So, the next time I see my prosthetist, I’ll tell him what I need and we’ll work on it together.” Our clinical team loves that kind of input from our patients, so please don’t hesitate.
If you or someone you know wants to return to hunting or try it for the first time but, needs guidance on where to start, please contact us. If you are a hunter and would like to leave a comment, please do so below. We hope you have found this article helpful.