Archers practice patience, marksmanship in training for Warrior Games

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Richard Williamson
  • Air Force Space Command Public Affairs
As the bow string is pulled back to the archer's cheek, time stands still. Not a muscle is moved. Then, suddenly, the arrow flies to the center of the 16-inch target 59 feet away.

For the Air Force Warrior Games archers, a Sunday afternoon practice at the Olympic Training Center here demonstrated the quiet, persistent, repetitive practice requirement for archers to consistently hit the mark and represent their service in the competition. The air inside the gymnasium was filled with the soft twang of the bowstring and thud of the arrow striking the target backstop as 10 to 15 archers at a time practiced with recurve and compound bows.

Air Force archery team captain, retired Staff Sgt. Jack Shaw, moved to the country and bought a bow to use in bow hunting.

"Bow hunting is more of a challenge where I live than (hunting) with a rifle," Sergeant Shaw said.

When offered the opportunity to compete in the Warrior Games, he saw an opportunity to regain some of the camaraderie he misses, now that he is not on active duty because of the injuries he sustained to his knee.

"You are more unique until you meet others with the same problems," he said. "It is good to learn how others have adapted to their disabilities and improved their life."

Master Sgt. Simon Wess was struggling with a recurve bow. He had been switched in team competition from the compound bow, which he was used to, to a recurve bow that required learning new skills in a short period of time.

"I now have 10 minutes experience with a recurve bow," joked Sergeant Wess. "The team needed me to shoot a recurve to balance out the team in competition. It is definitely different than shooting my compound bow," he said, as teammate Staff Sgt. Chris D'Angelo humorously "coached" Sergeant Wess in the use of a recurve bow.

Asked if he was skilled in the use of this particular bow, Sergeant D'Angelo laughed and said, "I've never shot a bow, but I've seen it on YouTube and wanted to help Simon improve his shooting."

"Archery is almost therapeutic ... it is poetry in motion," said retired Airman 1st Class Chatriex Goodson.

"In addition to being relaxing, archery is continuously challenging, no matter what level of skill you are at in the games," she said before launching another arrow at the distant target.

For more information about the 2011 Warrior Games and the events schedule, please see the information on the USOC Paralympics website at: