When the Paralympic Games were first held in Rome in 1960, archery was on the program. Since that time, the sport has continued to be featured. Although this is one of the original Paralympic sports, there is still a lot to learn about para-archery.
Three-time Paralympian Eric Bennett – who currently holds two world records and is a full-time high school science teacher – shares the ins and outs of his sport. Here are four things that might shock you about Paralympic archery.
1. Paralympic archery is the sport that most closely resembles its Olympic counterpart
In American events, para-archers compete alongside able-bodied archers using what is called a recurve bow. They use the same equipment and follow the same rules and the same format. The only notable difference is that a para-athlete can use their mouth to shoot the arrow, shoot while sitting from a wheelchair, or have an additional accessory like a harness or tripod (for a visually impaired athlete).
Because of this, Bennett said most people don’t realize that there is in fact a whole other discipline. “The recurve bow is basically the traditional bow that dates back thousands of years,” but it’s the compound bow that is new to someone watching the Paralympic Games. “Compounds don’t exist at the Olympics.”
“Compound bows have wheels at the end and a pulley system,” said Bennett, who lost his right arm at age 15 in a tragic car crash.
Having been on all Paralympic teams since 2008, Bennett competed in the compound archery discipline in 2008, but subsequent Games in recurve – making him the first American to compete in two different disciplines at two different Games.
2. Despite being “a stick with a string” there is a lot of technology that goes into the making of a recurve bow.
Since there is no manufacturer of standard para equipment – like mouthpieces, shoulder harnesses, or tactile sights – many para-archers are forced to make their own. But there is equipment that takes “thousands of hours to develop” that cannot be homemade, Bennett said.
“Even though they look traditional – like a stick with a string – there’s an incredible amount of engineering that goes into making a recurve bow,” Bennett said.
“It might not look as fancy as a compound bow with the wheels on the end” – and it certainly doesn’t cost that much – but “they’re just as technologically advanced: from the manufacturing side. from carbon fiber temples to the grip design. It’s just a different style.
3. Many people compare archery to golf for an important reason
When you think of archery, golf is not the first sport you might think of to compare it to. But Bennett thinks there’s a big reason why you should. Like golf, he said, “We spend a lot of time working on our mental game.”
“There’s a lot of visualization going into it, a lot of mental preparation when it comes to thinking about different scenarios.” He said when it comes time to shoot, “you have to be mentally tough and mentally present.”
Don’t take away the physicality of the sport, but “what goes between your ears is going to determine whether you are successful or not,” he revealed.
In order to stay on top of a sport he has been playing since the age of 7, Bennett chooses to work with a sports psychologist. He admitted that this is not something that is not unique to his sport, as many top athletes do the same.
4. The sport of archery wants you to give your child a bow and arrow.
When it comes to sports for young people, few would think that an activity that involves a bow and arrows is suitable for children. But you’d be wrong, Bennett said. In the United States, US Archery has launched a program called JOAD (Junior Olympic Archery Development).
“There are kids’ clubs everywhere we introduce kids as young as five and six to archery,” Bennett said.
Archery is very inclusive that way.
“It’s not age discrimination. It is not discriminatory between the sexes. It’s a sport that anyone can play, ”even someone at the other end of the age group. “I know several gentlemen in their 80s who are in competition. There are no age barriers. “
Not only that, but it’s a sport you can play for your whole life, he said.
“Anyone who wants to shoot a bow can shoot.”