Today I want to tell you about how I am able to participate in field archery. Normally I shoot target archery. There is an international classification for visually impaired archers who want to shoot target archery, but not for field archery. If you’ve been following my blog, you know that people who are blind use what is known as a tactile sight. This tactile sight consists of a foot-locator that is positioned across the shooting line and is staked or taped down. It has an attached tripod which has the sighting aid mounted on it for aiming. This apparatus would be really impractical on a field range, as you’ll see.
First let me begin by explaining how target archery is done, and then you’ll see why field archery is different. In target archery, the archers stand on a fixed shooting line and aim at targets placed parallel to the shooting line at various distances. You could have a couple hundred archers shooting at one time along this shooting line. The archers shoot for a designated number of minutes and number of arrows. Then they put down their bows, walk to their target and score their arrows according to which ring they land in.
In field archery, archers hike along trails to get to each target. The trails can be hilly or somewhat flat. The targets are placed at different distances, anywhere from a few feet away to around 100 yards. You can probably see now why I can’t use my tactile sighting apparatus on this type of archery range. I would have to carry it from target to target and sight in each time. That would be way too labor intensive and take way too long at each target. So, Courtney came up with a way I can participate and join in on the fun. I use a walking stick to walk the trails, so Courtney places this stick on the ground to line my feet up to the target. Then he stands behind me and sights me in using a sight with a peep that he mounts on the right side of my bow. He lines up the peep with the sight aperture by telling me “left, right, up and down.” Then when he has me sighted in, he says the word “hold” and I know to hold my position and shoot. It’s not quite as rewarding as the tactile method. The reason I say that is because when I shoot with the tactile technique, I’m in charge of my whole shot. I have to aim the bow by touching the same spot on the back of my bow hand to the tactile sight and use the proper form to execute my shot. I decide whether or not to adjust my sight while concentrating on performing that shot properly each time. When Courtney is sighting for me, I still have to perform that shot properly or the shot will be way off, but it’s more rewarding to be in charge of all facets of the shot. That being said, being able to hike the trails and shoot with a group of fellow archers is a lot of fun and an enjoyable way to spend a day. It also gives my guide dog, Liza, a chance to be outdoors and to guide me through some beautiful countryside. It’s a change from laying around all day under our Easy-Up at a target archery tournament.
This summer, Courtney and I are going to participate in two field archery competitions just as a change of pace. I’m going to try now to post a video so you can see how we do it.