Straight shooter Baldwin aiming to hit final target

Ireland's Sean Baldwin became the first Irish shooter to compete at a Paralympics in London, and is hoping to make his mark on European shooting at Alicante 2013. 19 Oct 2013
Sean Baldwin
ⒸParalympics Ireland
By Paralympics Ireland

“He is improving all the time and has put a lot of work into preparing for the European Championships. Hopefully that will show itself next week.”

The 2013 IPC Shooting European Championships get under way in the Spanish resort of Alicante on Monday (21 October) and Sean Baldwin will be hoping to create a favourable impression throughout the week.

The Newbridge native, who turns 46 at the end of the month (29 October), will be targeting a final berth to continue the progress he has made since going into international competition in 2011.

Baldwin is a true trailblazer, having become the first Irish shooting competitor in the history of the Paralympic Games in London last year. He competed in the R1 (men’s 10m air rifle standing SH1), R3 (mixed 10m air rifle prone SH1), R6 (50m rifle prone SH1) and R7 (men’s 50m three positions SH1) events at the summer jamboree.

It was an important step as he aims to build his experience and the benefits were seen when he finished eighth in the R1 (men’s 10m air rifle standing SH1) category at the IPC Shooting World Cup event held in the Stoke Mandeville Stadium in Great Britain last July.

That represented more progress and the aim is to repeat that on the Mediterranean next week, while all the time learning and improving so that he can be a medal contender for Rio 2016.

This all looked very far away when he suffered a serious car accident 10 years ago that almost cost Baldwin his life.

His life changed forever on a Liberian road in 2003. He was serving on a Tour of Duty as a sergeant in the Irish Defence Forces when an accident occurred that was so horrific in nature that the driver was killed.

Baldwin’s survival was miraculous. He was in a coma for some time and had his right leg amputated. As well as breaking both his legs, he suffered a crushed skull, broken shoulders, broken ribs and a broken pelvis.

There were numerous complications after his initial amputation below the knee and a second amputation higher up was required. His lungs collapsed too and he was on a ventilator for six weeks. He showed the resilience that has become his calling card to recover though and has never looked back since.

Baldwin had only begun shooting a short time previously but was so proficient that he had already qualified for the European Championships. While the accident put paid to that, shooting played a significant role in helping him recover.

“When I woke up from my coma and they told me I had lost my leg and all of the other things that had happened to me, I was just lying there thinking, ‘Right, do you know what? I can still shoot’” says Baldwin.

The Defence Forces Shooting Team (DFST) clubman, who is based in the Army’s logistics department on the Curragh, Ireland, went on to compete in able-bodied competition before making his international para-shooting debut in 2011.

He had competed at two Military Games, three Military World Championships, three Military European Championships and an Orientation World Championships before breaking new ground in London.

There is more to come and the president of the National Target Shooting Association of Ireland (NTSA) Liam Crawford – himself a captain in the Defence Forces – is looking at a gradual advancement.

“Sean is in with a shout of finalling. He finished eighth in the [R1] 10m air rifle standing at the World Cup even in Stoke Mandeville which was good and his aim this time around would be to final.

“He is improving all the time and has put a lot of work into preparing for the European Championships. Hopefully that will show itself next week.”

Baldwin will be competing in the R1 on day one of competition (21 October) at the 2013 IPC Shooting European Championships. You can follow live updates on Twitter @IPC Shooting and on