Shooting in the right direction

WTU Force Structure U.S. Army veteran Michael Helmen, Killeen, Texas is in full focus mode prior to competing in the recurve archery event July 3, during the 2017 Department of Defense Warrior Games. The DOD Warrior Games are an adaptive sports competition for wounded, ill and injured service members and veterans. Approximately 265 athletes representing teams from the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Special Operations Command, United Kingdom Armed Forces, and the Australian Defence Force competed June 30 – July 8 in archery, cycling, track, field, shooting, sitting volleyball, swimming, and wheelchair basketball. (U.S. Army photo by Robert A. Whetstone)

By Robert A. Whetstone Brooke Army Medical Center Public Affairs


CHICAGO - - It is only logical when you shoot an arrow from its bow it will travel in the direction you aim. At the 2017 Department of Defense Warrior Games, competitors lined up inside McCormick Place Convention Center July 3, to see who could shoot straighter and truer than anyone else.

It takes patience and skill to point an arrow and shoot it in the right direction. “With archery it’s all about focus,” said U.S. Army veteran Michelle Sanchez, from San Antonio, Texas. Sanchez started off as a bow hunter in a fishing tournament, but quickly adapted to the sport of archery. “You have to be focused on the target. Archery has a lot to do with how you compose yourself.”

In a similar sense, adaptive sports have been the arrow pointing Team Army Soldiers in the right direction. “As in life, when you point the arrow in the right direction, you’re pointing yourself in the right direction,” said Sanchez.

The archery competition was no different from the other sporting events; the crowds were loud and unforgiving. Team Army was ready for the noise. “We had even more noise at Army Trials because we were so close to the bleachers,” Sanchez explained. “At the time it can be disruptive, but at the same time you’re enjoying the fact that you’ve got your family behind you. You’re shooting to make the team proud.”

The archery event is composed of four categories: Individual Compound Open, Individual Recurve Open, Team Compound, and Team Recurve. Participants may shoot compound and recurve bows from a standing or seated position. Athletes compete in different classification categories based on functional abilities, including impaired muscle power/range of movement, limb deficiency and visual impairment. Visually impaired archers will compete in a separate classification than sighted archers. All VI archers wear blindfolds and shoot with a tactile sight.

Team Army has a tradition of shooting in the right direction at the DOD Warrior Games. This year was no exception. Sanchez, Army Sgt. Patrick Haney, and Staff Sgt. Gregory Quarles ‘bowed’ up and won the gold medal in the team compound open event ahead of silver medalists Team SOCOM and bronze medalists Team Marine Corps.