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Right on Target: Soldier On Takes Aim on Introduction to Archery

By: Captain Bettina McCulloch-Drake, Manitoba-based member of Soldier On

All legends have to start somewhere.

The story of William Tell inspired the independence of Switzerland from the Austrians. The story of England’s Robin of the Hood has inspired many retellings from print to cinema. And the story of Invictus and Paralympic competitors starts with a healing journey. While I am not yet an Invictus competitor, I am a recent member of Soldier On.

Wanting to re-establish and maintain an active and healthy lifestyle to aid in my mental health journey I decided to apply for the introduction to archery event that my Soldier On Regional Coordinator, Dan Whittaker, organized recently.

Feeling a little anxious, as I sometimes tend to be when trying something for the first time or meeting a group of people for the first time, I arrived early so that I could change. Once changed, I waited for the other four participants and Dan while taking in the entirety of Heights Outdoors and its three shooting bays with a total of 26 shooting lanes located in Winnipeg, MB. 

IMG_1071-1.jpgOnce everyone arrived and the rental equipment was brought over to our part of the range, we were introduced to two types of bows: recurve and compound.

Often called a traditional bow, the recurve is usually what people have in mind when they think of the aforementioned Robin Hood or William Tell. Of the two, this bow requires a lot more practice to aim and to fire with accuracy. Maybe it was my short arms or maybe it was just my overall awkward handling of a weapon I was unfamiliar with. Regardless of the reason, I found it challenging to hit the target where I wanted. It’s a good thing I did not have to achieve any kind of passing mark. 

The compound bow, on the other hand, is a much more complex mechanism with pulleys that help you exert a strong force over a shorter distance. Of course, there is a trick to it. First, there is a release bar (a small metal object that clips onto a D-loop) that you need to use. Second, the initial draw backwards seems heavier before it gets lighter. Once I got used to the mechanics of it, however, I ended up being far more accurate with the compound bow due to the ability to sight through two different parts of the bow.

Between our instruction and our practice, the two hours went by quickly.

Will I participate in another Soldier On event? Absolutely. It was great to get out and see people who are on their own healing journeys. I even met an upcoming Invictus competitor. Events like this one help to reinforce that none of us are truly alone and that there are supports for serving and retired Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) who have permanent illnesses and injuries.