News: Army hones in on gold during 2013 Warrior Games archery competition
Story by Shannon Collins
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - “Reset the field, archers to the line” echoed throughout the indoor archery range as athletes from the U.S. Air Force, Army, Marines and Navy, along with a team from U.S. Special Operations Command and a team from the United Kingdom, lined up to take their shots.
The athletes pulled their bowstrings back to their cheek to lock in their shot, aim and then release down the 18-meter path to hit the 12.2-centimeter center of the 122-centimeter target for a maximum of 10 points. Each shooter gets three arrows per end, or round, to hit their target. For the win in the men’s compound bow competition, one Army and one Marine athlete tied and had a one-arrow shoot off for the gold medal during the 2013 Warrior Games at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., May 15.
“We were tied until the very end, 110 to 110, so it came down to a one-arrow shoot off for whoever hit closest to the center of the target. He shot a 10, and I was pretty close. I didn’t win the gold but it did come down to the best archers shooting it out all the way,” said retired Marine Staff Sgt. Matthew Benack, who shot his way from seventh to second to take the silver in the compound bow this year, adding to his silver in 2010 in archery.
Army Capt. Frank Barroqueiro took the gold by hitting dead center with the shoot off single arrow.
“It was a good way to end the competition,” said Barroqueiro, who also took a bronze in shooting the air pistol in his first Warrior Games. “I got to pick my arrow; I got to pick my target. I knew where I was going to hit before I fired that shot. I wanted to win for my team, and it feels great.”
The athletes shooting the recurve bow matched each other in the preliminary rounds until the final rounds. Veteran Marine Cpl. Luke Prentice won his first bronze medal in his second Warrior Games by beating out his competition in the very last round. He said he fought for the win to bring home a medal for his brothers in arms in the Marine Corps.
It came down to the last round for Army Staff Sgt. Curtis Winston and Army Sgt. Edward Patton for the gold. Winston shot a perfect 30 during one round; he said it was unexpected.
“It shocked me; the line judge blew the whistle early, and I thought that would throw me off but I just refocused, shot and didn’t even realize I got it at first. I’ve shot 30s before, but just in practice. I was the only one to shoot a 30 today, so that was an accomplishment for me,” said Winston, who won silver in the 2010 Warrior Games and helped his team win silver in the recurve bow last year.
Though Winston shot the 30, Patton caught up to him and beat him for the gold by two points. He said words could not express how honored and excited he was to win his first gold medal in his first Warrior Games.
“It took a lot of hard work and dedication, and it was well worth it,” said Patton. “It felt great to have my Army brother up there in the finals with me because I knew we were both going to the podium. My goal was to get gold, and I did. I’m happy we got silver and gold.”
Patton’s wife, Joann, said she is proud of her husband and his win.
“I think it is nothing short of amazing,” said Joann, as she held their 6-month old son Liam. “With his back injury, it’s difficult for him to shoot for extended periods of time and to go all the way to the gold medal round and pull it off basically on the last arrow was just incredible to watch. I’m so glad that he gets this reward for all the work that he’s put in for the Army in archery and for our son, he gets to see his daddy get a gold medal.”
Both Patton and Barraqueiro are from Gainesville, Ga., and trained together for the competition. They said archery is more than just a competition to them.
“Not one single person picked up a bow back in the day because they wanted a medal,” said Barraqueiro. “Ever single one of us is doing archery because it’s therapeutic. It’s fun to see something we did for therapy lead to this, that’s the beauty of the games.”
Patton said he picked up the sport while recovering at a Warrior Transition Unit.
“I was sitting in the barracks, getting depressed because I was away from my family and because of all of my medical issues, but I decided to try adaptive sports,” said Patton. “A friend of mine got me into archery, and I just fell in love with it.”
Patton encourages wounded veterans to try adaptive sports.
“Its not over; you can find something that will help you become a soldier again; you can adapt to your injuries and illnesses,” said Patton. “Archery means so much to me. I’ve adapted to my injuries, and I feel like a whole person again. Get out of the barracks, get out and do something; there’s something out there you will enjoy and love like I love archery. The hard work pays off.”