Archery: The Latest Tool for Veteran’s Healing

Zeljko Matic /
Zeljko Matic /

For decades now, we have tried to come up with answers to the horrors of battle that have been called various names over the years. Shell shock, battle fatigue, or, most recently and accurately, Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD). No matter the name, this condition, along with other issues, comes with the territory of serving in a combat zone. Various groups and ‘experts’ have come up with various answers over the years, but the thing has hit the mark.

Now a group from the Abilene, TX Department of Veteran’s Affairs thinks they have a great tool for veterans to try- archery.

According to director Nick Tapie, “Veterans already come in with marksmanship abilities, and so archery really pairs well with that because they end up doing something that is native to their own experiences. But archery is very different than using firearms. It’s very quiet. It’s calming. It’s therapeutic.”

For Army veteran Patrick Whitney, it’s a perfect relaxer. “I’m a competitive person. Archery isn’t easy. I think that’s what draws me in even more because it actually takes some skill. Whenever you pull that bow back, there’s a lot of fundamentals that you have to remember. And the scenery is so peaceful out here. The tranquility is awesome.”

Many veterans across the US describe the same problem. They leave for 6 months or more, and everyone else’s world keeps going on as if nothing had happened. As they concentrate on the issues at hand and the loss they experience in real-time, those at home can continue with their lives. Needless to say, the disconnect from family and friends is huge. It’s why many veterans find it difficult to relate to civilians. Programs like these give them a chance to come together and peacefully bond.