HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah — HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah — A Paralympic Archery Training Camp was held at Hill Sept. 24-28.
The training camp was part of the Paralympic Military Program, which assists wounded, ill and injured service members and veterans, including those with amputations, brain injuries, and visual impairments.
Camps are held throughout the year, providing them the opportunity to participate in Paralympic sports aiding in their physical and mental rehabilitation.
The athletes attending the camp at Hill included six Marines, most attached to the Wounded Warrior Regiment, and one Soldier from the Army’s World Class Athlete Program.
The participants’ skills ranged from beginner to intermediate, with some having competition experience most recently at the 2018 DOD Warrior Games.
The camp’s coaches are from the U.S. Paralympic Archery Team and also got their start as Paralympic archers through the Paralympic Military Program.
“I hope it ended up a good experience for them,” said Army Staff Sgt. Michael Lukow, one of three camp coaches.
Lukow, who was part of 2016 U.S. Paralympic Archery Team in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and currently active duty in the Army’s World Class Athlete Program, said while the coaches were there to help the participants improve their skills, they were also there for the participants as mentors.
Another coach, Lance Thornton, retired Army and recent Parapan American Archery Championship gold medalist, said the program is good therapy.
“What I’ve noticed about these camps is, even if (participants choose not to) continue with competitions, it’s a task they can focus on, rather than focusing on all the noise they have going on,” said Thornton.
Thornton said because archery is about repetition with the same goal every time, it gives them a something to do to take their mind off the worries that come with healing and overcoming their injuries.
One of the camp’s participants, Marine Staff Sgt. James Dunaway agreed.
“I do archery for focus. With a lot going on, all I have to worry about is where the arrow is going. Nothing else matters,” he said.
This is the first time Hill Air Force Base has hosted the camp. The base provided participants access to indoor and outdoor shooting ranges, meals and lodging, while volunteers from the Hill AFB Archery Club and 75th Force Support Squadron gave other support.
Other service members who participated in the camp were Marines Cpl. T.J. Gilman, Sgt. Matthew Hargrove, Lance Cpl. Ian Stairwalt, Cpl. Troy Frodl, Lance Cpl. Damon Moore, and Army Staff Sgt. Ryan McIntosh.
Dan Govier, a retired Marine and a 3-time DOD Warrior Games gold-medal winner also coached at the camp.
The Paralympic Military Program was launched by the U.S. Olympic Committee in partnership with the Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs. The Paralympic Archery Training Camp was funded through USA Archery along with an Adapted Sports Grant from the VA and DOD.
Service members and veterans interested in finding out more about Paralympic sports opportunities can visit https://www.teamusa.org/US-Paralympics/Resources/Military.