News: Warrior Games hits recovery bull’s eye
Story by Sgt. Justin Boling
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — The slow, smooth pull of string, a moment to sight in on the bull’s eye 18 meters away, and like lighting an arrow thuds into its target.
Although British archers were present, it was not Robin Hood and his band of merry men stealing riches, it was a collection of wounded, ill and injured veterans at this year’s Warrior Games held in Colorado Springs, Colo.
“I did the trial last year and I loved it,” said Richard Stalder, a Marine team archer. “ I since have gotten out of the Marine Corps and coming back to see my brothers and compete is awesome.”
The daylong event, held at the United States Air Force Academy, tested archers from all branches of the Department of Defense and service members from the United Kingdom.
"A lot of time these guys deal with anxiety," said John Fuller, the Warriors Games head archery coach. "The great thing about archery is it is a concentration game."
“It clears their minds and helps them to function better.”
United States Marine Corps First Sgt. Fuller, a resident of Jacksonville, N.C., served from1958 to1986 completing three tours during the Vietnam War. Fuller has brought more than 60 years of archery experience to the Warrior games since it conception.
“A lot of the guys tell me that their [Traumatic Brain Injury] or [Post Traumatic Stress Disorder] kind of reduces, especially when they are shooting,” Fuller continued. “Their is such a requirement for concentration that it kinds of blanks out a lot of the other stuff.”
Fuller had one Marine come out before the first Warrior Games to the training camp he held aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C. The archery range on the base is located next to the skeet range. Every time the Marine heard a gunshot he would jump and ruin his shot.
"I told him he had to concentrate on his shot," said Fuller
Stalder suffers from a traumatic brain injury, which causes short-term memory loss, random loss of consciousness and trouble with muscle control, which keeps him in a wheel chair.
"When coach first picked me up they called me shaky Jake,” said Stalder."I realized I had to fire at the end of my shakes.
“He is the best coach.”
The first highlight of this year’s archery competition was when Stalder fired a Robin Hood. The term refers to an archer firing an arrow into the end of the previous arrow launched.
“The first arrow thudded in (the center of the target), then I put another one right in the end of it,” said Stalder. "As soon as I saw the arrow wobble I knew there was a Robin Hood in that target.
“This is my first Robin Hood ever, and it almost makes me speechless,” Stalder continued. "I am going to mount this when I get home."
"It is pretty rare to hit a Robin Hood consecutively, even rarer to shoot a Robin Hood in (the center of the target), it doesn't get any better that," said Fuller.