WHY OUR ARCHERY PROGRAM WORKS
As our Mission states, we are all about improving the quality of life for disabled veterans through the practice of the sport and art of archery. We accomplish that mission by providing archery lessons, practice sessions and participation in adaptive sports archery competitive events.
We have found that for the Arrows For Heroes archery lessons to have a positive therapeutic impact on a veteran the veteran is encouraged to participate in at least 12 lessons over a period of 6 months. In almost all cases the archery lessons are done in a disabled veterans group setting. On average, group sizes range from 4 to 12.
The value of a group of 4 to 12 disabled veterans getting together is that the veterans develop relationships with one another, often developing new friendships. During the lesson and practice sessions they often share many military and health related experiences. Too many of our disabled combat veterans have become isolated from society because they feel they have nothing in common with civilians. They shut down, become anti-social and withdraw from relationships. However, when around other combat disabled veterans during archery lessons and practice sessions our veterans tell us they feel more at ease and thus less stressful.
Many veterans have told us that the practice of archery helps them to leave much of their stress and intrusive negative thoughts behind. Whether it is a physical or a mental disability or both, the inability to focus or concentrate on a single task is very debilitating and can have serious consequences on the quality of a veteran's life. However, when a person pulls back his/her bow string the mind is required to focus on the task of the shot. Most of our veterans have been trained in firearms so their mind has already been conditioned to shoot at a target. That mental conditioning from military training seems to help many veterans find their way back to the focus and concentration necessary to successfully shoot at a target. It's just that now it is a silent experience. Many vets have told us that in those few seconds of preparing the shot and aiming at the target they feel at peace with themselves. This is why we state in our mission statement it is the sport and “art” of archery that helps to improve the quality of life. The meditative power of having to practice the art of focus and concentration becomes a mindfulness exercise leading to a calm state of the mind.
The experience of feeling at peace during the shot and the enjoyment once again of camaraderie is what brings our veterans back for more archery sessions. This is a big beneficial difference in our veteran's archery program versus other veteran programs. Our archery therapy is not a “single event” social gathering of disabled veterans. As mentioned previously we encourage our veterans to participate in archery lessons and practice sessions for at least 6 months. We have found that 9 out of 10 veterans that complete a 6 month program become active long term participants. The long term participants usually become interested in our Arrows For Heroes Team Program. Veterans participating in our Team Program get the opportunity to compete with other disabled veteran archers in regional disabled veteran archery competitions. A few of our early participating veterans have gone on to win Gold, Silver and Bronze medals in adaptive sports national competitions.
No matter the size of your donation to Arrows For Heroes there is a disabled combat veteran who will benefit greatly. Introducing him/her to the sport and art of archery through our lessons program will lead them back to a more peaceful world.