News: Warrior Games Marines take aim in first archery practice of training camp
Story by Lance Cpl. Graham Benson
In the shadows of Colorado Spring's legendary Pike's Peak on Fort Carson, Colo., Marines competing in the inaugural Warrior Games took first aims at their targets during archery practice here April 28.
The eight-man archery team wasted no time in getting to work on their skills, despite battling wind gusts of up to 50 mph throughout much of the day.
The competition is scheduled for May 10-14, at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo. The event is offering more than 200 recovering, wounded active duty and medically retired veterans from all military branches the opportunity to compete against one another while representing their respective services in a variety of Olympic-style events.
"Although the conditions obviously weren't ideal, it's probably a good thing that we've got them to practice in," said U.S. Marine Sgt. Dan Govier, who was recently medically retired. "If it's like this come competition day, we'll be much better prepared to shoot well than the other teams who haven't been out here shooting in this kind of weather."
The majority of the team has some past archery experience, but few have competed at this level before. Many of the participants have suffered life-altering injuries while serving in combat.
"They all come from different backgrounds. Some have been predominantly indoor shooters and others have hunting backgrounds," said retired Marine first sergeant and Vietnam veteran John Fuller, head archery coach. "A couple of the guys just picked up a bow for the first time recently."
Helping these specialized athletes improve their skills requires some adjustments by the coaching staff to each individual's physical limitations.
"Some of the guys have some shoulder issues, which is a crucial area when in shooting, so we have to learn to make changes around that," said Fuller. "As long as they have an open mind, we can get them straightened out on their techniques."
Although all military branches will be competing in the games, the Marine Corps and Air Force are the only services holding preparatory training camps, with the Marine's camp scheduled to last two weeks and the Air Force's one.
"It really says something about the Marine Corps' commitment to us and the overall Marine mentality," said Benack, Warrior Games archer. "We're not going to do anything half way, and getting out here and making sure we're ready to compete is going to make the difference during the competition."