RICHMOND, Va. -- The small but devoted fan base to the sport of Archery in Richmond has been working for years to get their national championships to come to town.
This year, it's finally happening. Hundreds of archers from across the country will set up shop between 50 and 70 meters away for a chance at making history.
“It's an individual sport that we can completely control ourselves and yet, it`s also a sport where you don`t do it alone” explained Melody Scott, a coach with the Golden Arrow Archers. “You're around other people and you can have a team even though you don`t really compete for each other.”
There are three bow styles in which to compete, and several different age groups for both men and women.
Preston Curry will be competing right in his own backyard in a sport he picked up only three years ago.
“I like going to the [gun] range,” Curry said. “I like trap shooting as well. I think it kinda falls in line with that as well”
“The rush, enthusiasm, and of course, the target. That's the common bond for me. It's exciting.”
“A lot of people that come to archery are disenfranchised with other sports,” Scott added. “They realize they can't do soccer or they're no good at running... This is something that everybody can do. “
In a way, Preston is disenfranchised with other sports, but not of his own doing.
Twenty-five years ago, Curry, a US Army Veteran, suffered a spinal cord injury in a car accident.
He considered himself an athletic person, but the accident changed the way he stayed in shape.
“My injury is the reason why I participate in so many sports,” Curry explained. “Staying active is number one for me."
“It is so adaptable so people like Preston are able to participate in a sport that is an Olympic sport and something that he can do” Scott added. “We actually have several people with various disabilities that come out and shoot archery.”
Much like anything else, one of the hardest things for people with disabilities is to take the first step towards being active and accomplishing a goal. For Curry, archery has become that first step. And through the help of people at the VA and with Sportable, it's improved his entire quality of life.
“My injury has made me even more confident,” Curry said. “I've always considered myself a confident person, but being able to participate in adaptive sports has definitely elevated my confidence and it's helped me to have a much better quality of life.”
“When we start working with people with a disability, a lot of them think they can't do it,” Scott said. “Oh, I can`t possibly shoot a bow. We figure out a way they can do it. The light in their eyes and they get so excited, oh my gosh, I hit the target! They thought 5 minutes ago they couldn't shoot at all and they hit the target. It's very inspiring and exciting to see them do that.”
“It's hard being disabled, particularly someone with a disability that requires a wheelchair, It's tough.” Curry continued. “ I feel that society has certain perceptions, beliefs, and attitudes about us but I feel that it's our job to change those perceptions. This sport, archery, or any sport really is going to help change that perception.”