One of the greatest things about archery is that it is open to everyone of all ages, genders, and abilities. Even those with any impairments can participate in archery thanks to adaptive archery. With a few simple adaptations, archery can be readily enjoyed by anyone.
What Is Adaptive Archery?
Adaptive archery is almost identical to regular archery. In both cases, an archer will use a bow to aim and shoot an arrow at a target. The biggest difference with adaptive archery, however, is that it helps archers with modified equipment. This can help accommodate shooters with physical or nonphysical disabilities.
Some people want to get involved with archery but believe it’s impossible due to their limitations. With adaptive archery, no one is left out and all can enjoy the sport despite any limitations.
The Benefits of Adaptive Archery
Adaptive archery offers a wide range of benefits to those participating, as well as those that organize and lead it. This participation and competition can be an excellent way for shooters to be more active and get out to socialize. It provides them with a way of meeting and socializing with others who may share many of the same interests.
Adaptive archery events can also be a great opportunity for participants to learn something new or even just spend time with others who have similar impairments. Not only do adaptive archery events provide social contact, they provide practice and training on the fundamentals of the sport. For those that want to take it to the next level, they may even have the option of working towards the U.S. Paralympic or World Championship Team.
Above all else, adaptive archery provides an outlet for those that may need it. Archery can provide an archer with different skills that are needed to build discipline and self-esteem. It can give opportunities to make friends and work towards something over a period of time to accomplish personal goals.
Getting Started With Adaptive Archery
With adaptive archery, anyone who wants to shoot can do so with the right gear and training. There are several limitations that people may have that adaptive archery can work with, including blindness, autism, amputations, down syndrome, PTSD, birth defects, and many more. All of these various limitations can be combatted with adaptive archery! There are several actions in archery that may provide some level of difficulty for anyone with a limitation. With the right gear or set up it can be more easily managed to provide a great shooting experience.
Bracing For The Shot
One area that may give shooters some trouble is being able to properly brace for the shot. Challenges with the bow arm and hand can be helped using a variety of different devices. Devices include things like hand straps, braces, elbow braces, and even metal braces. A bow hand that is braced will help the shooter better hold their bow and brace for the shot.
Other shooters may need braces that go arms-length. These braces provide a framework to resist the force of the bow at the shot. This can even be attached to a wheelchair or other standing brace in order to absorb any vibrations or impact when shooting. Archers can also utilize braced support to lean against if they have difficulty standing upright.
Shooting While Sitting
Some archers may have difficulty standing while shooting, or may not be able to stand at all. Luckily adaptive archery specializes in helping archers shoot while sitting down! If the archer is using a wheelchair or a stool to shoot from, it should be positioned so that it is straddling the shooting line with two wheels or legs in front of the line and two behind it. The archer’s feet should be supported so that they are steady and balanced.
The angle of the chair can even be adjusted in order to help the shooter find what is most comfortable. If a seated archer still has some trouble or stability issues, they can also use a waist or chest strap to help hold and secure the bow. Shooting while sitting provides a much-needed method of archery to not only those who cannot stand but for those who may need the added stability and support.
Nocking The Arrow
Nocking an arrow on the bowstring can require some fine motor skills, and not every participant in adaptive archery may be able to accomplish this. Luckily archers are able to get assistance with this part of the shooting process, even during competition. Archers that are seated can also use a special chair-mounted quiver. They can also place arrows on the ground and use a foot to pick them up and nock them.
Other archers may need a ground quiver, hip quiver, or back quiver that helps better align the arrows and make it easier to nock. Experimenting with the archer’s needs can help figure out where arrows are best placed to make nocking easier. Even things such as a small table can be used to place the arrows in a better location for the archer and make the whole process easier.
Many archers who have lost the use of an arm or hand might choose to use a mouth tab. This device is a tab that attaches permanently onto the bowstring and is held in a shooter’s mouth. It is held in the mouth as an archer draws, holds, and releases the bowstring. Mouth tabs can be anything as simple as a piece of leather that is cut to the desired shape and size and attached to the bowstring below the nocking point. A mouth tab is held between the molars to provide a solid and consistent grip while shooting.
In addition to mouth tabs, archers who cannot use an arm or hand may also choose to use mouth or chin-activated release aids. These will generally strap onto the shoulder and are activated by using either the mouth or chin to shoot.
It can be challenging for some archers to hold and stabilize their bow long enough to shoot. Not to mention the entire draw process of pulling back, aiming, and releasing. Bow stands are a piece of equipment that is designed to give an archer the stability and support that they may need. It is generally used with those who suffer from motor dysfunctions or disabilities that do not allow them to properly hold a bow.
A bow stand can be free-standing or attached to a support or wheelchair. A horizontal bow stand gives a very stable shooting platform as the bow is perpendicular to the ground and its weight is supported. The bow stand will hold the bow as the archer pulls back (with assistance if needed) aims, and eventually releases the arrow. They can also be used in conjunction with different braces and release aids as necessary.
For archers in a wheelchair or have other walking limitations, a volunteer can help to retrieve arrows from the target. This person can also record the scores during a competition. This can also apply to those that have limitations with their hands or arms and are unable to properly remove arrows from a target. In this case, a volunteer can also be used as well as other as an arrow gripper to make the task a little easier.
Removing arrows that are sunk deep into a target can be a challenging task, even for those who do not have any limitations. This is another area where adaptive archery can make a task much easier for the archer and make it an overall better experience. The need for someone to retrieve arrows will also depend on the shooting conditions. For example, shooting indoors with a flat surface or shooting outside with grass, rocks, etc.
Archery is an amazing sport and hobby that can provide some great benefits to those that are participating. Thanks to adaptive archery, those with severe limitations can still enjoy the sport and all of the benefits it provides. With a little bit of practice and the use of specialized equipment, almost anyone can become an excellent archer!