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Home | Tag Archives: 2019 Army Trials

Tag Archives: 2019 Army Trials

2019 Army Trials at Fort Bliss: Understanding archery and mental healing

Toeing the line, controlled breathing, then slowly drawing back the bowstring is a mental and physical exercise each athlete executed while participating in the archery event, during the 2019 Army Trials at Fort Bliss, Texas.

U.S. Army Reserve Sgt. Jonathan Alexander, Fort Bragg Warrior Transition Battalion, started participating in archery about eight months ago. “I never picked up a bow until I got to the WTB,” he explained. “Archery gets you out of the mindset that you’re hurt and can’t do anything.”

Alexander has observed his teammates pushing through their injuries and credits the adaptive nature and coaching they have received in the sport of archery as something that is helpful in recovery.

“It’s a lot more of a mental recovery as opposed to physical,” he said. “Archery helps you to calm down and realize you can do things regardless of injury. I’ve got a lower body injury. It makes you feel good about not being locked to a chair. (Archery) has given me an outlet.”

Retired Sgt. Harvey Boyd, an Atlanta native, echoed Alexander’s assessment. “Because of our injuries there is camaraderie,” said Boyd. “Some of the athletes have some serious injuries, but it’s not holding them back from competing. I have a lower back injury, but the concentration… when I take that first shot, I actually don’t feel the pain. But, after I take that last shot and exhale, my back is like ‘I’m here’!”

Participants in the archery event can shoot in either compound or recurve bow categories, from the standing or seated position, and compete in different classification categories based on functional abilities, including impaired muscle power/range of movement, limb deficiency and visual impairment. Visually-impaired archers compete in a separate classification than other archers and wear blindfolds and shoot with a tactile sight.

Both Alexander and Boyd shot in the compound bow category.

Retired Army Sgt. Harvey Boyd, Atlanta, Georgia, takes aim at his target during the compound bow archery event, March 12, at the Army Trials. (U.S. Army photo by Robert A. Whetstone)

Boyd described the difference between the compound and recurve bows, stating compound bows minimize the necessary strength to fully draw the bow, while recurve bows require more strength to draw and hold prior to releasing the arrow.

Alexander and Boyd credit adaptive sports for their continued recovery and a start to the next chapter in their lives.

“It does wonders for a lot of us,” said Alexander. “Just to get out of the barracks and get your mind free and be with people that are in the same boat as you are, and have a good time for a couple of hours during the day does wonders for mentality and even physical therapy.”

“I’ve been shooting all my life, but the WTB introduced the competitive aspect of the sport to me,” said Boyd.

For Soldiers and veterans just getting introduced to adaptive reconditioning, Alexander has some great advice: “Be coachable in everything you do.”

Author:  Robert Whetstone  – U.S. Army Warrior Care and Transition

2019 Army Trials at Fort Bliss: To dream the “Ultimate” dream…again

Two years ago retired Staff Sgt. Ross Alewine was adjusting to his new normal, after undergoing multiple surgeries. The twice-deployed infantryman was dealing with an Achilles rupture and shoulder reconstructive surgeries that would take him out of the Army.

“I was real competitive in high school I played all sports then I went in the Army and I wanted to be the best in my job. When I couldn’t do my job anymore, it came back to ‘hey I can do sports again so let’s be the best at that’,” said Alewine.

He truly was the best after earning the title “Ultimate Champion” at the 2018 Department of Defense Warrior Games, a title reserved for the top athlete. Alewine is going for back-to-back wins of the title, something that’s never been done before. Competing in this year’s Army trials at Fort Bliss has Alewine wanting to show others how you can recover and overcome any setback.

“It means showing other guys and gals that you can come back and try. There’s no reason you can’t come back and compete like I’m doing.” Coming back from injuries can be hard and Alewine knows it. He lived the impossible dream and dared to dream it again but he says you have to never give up.

“I say be persistent and keep your head up. If you get knocked down 10 times get up 11, laugh and then ask for more. Get off the couch that’s the biggest thing,” said Alewine.

Adaptive sports helped get this champion off the couch. His recovery at the Fort Belvoir Warrior Transition Unit was more than a fix for what was broken.

“(Fort Belvoir WTU) absolutely saved my life. From saving my life to it helped me get around more and be more active- I’m in great shape, I’m able to do more with my kids and I’m able to be a functioning member of society.” It wasn’t easy but he encourages any wounded, injured or ill Soldier to go for the gold but cautions you have to start small like he did.

“I could barely push around in a basketball wheelchair and now I just won a gold medal with Team U.S. at Invictus but you gotta start somewhere.”

Alewine started at regional-level trials, then won at the Army-wide trials, then went on to win at the Department of Defense Warrior Games. His trip to Invictus Games in Sydney last October, he says was priceless. In fact he claims he felt like a million dollars at those games.

“Walking in with Team U.S.A. on your back representing the country you fought for and then actually going over there and doing pretty good, there’s nothing like it!” Alewine is competing in swimming, rowing, archery, power lifting, cycling, seated volleyball and wheelchair basketball at Fort Bliss, March 6-16, with the desire to go back to Warrior Games on Team Army as an Ultimate Champion once again.

Author: MaryTherese Griffin – Warrior Care and Transition

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