Why support matters – The thoughts of a visually Impaired archer – By Deb Wright

I had to stop shooting In May 2019 due to severe pain in my left elbow and pins and needles then numbness in my pinky finger and the finger next to it on my left hand. By November 2019 I had Ulnar nerve release surgery at the Woodlands hospital, but more surgery was to come. a MRI and CT scan revealed I had a blown disc in my lower neck c6 to c7 so the Woodlands hospital carried out ACDF (Anterior Cervical Discectomy with Fusion) surgery in March 2020 just before our first lockdown.

I was advised not to shoot for six months after my ACDF surgery to allow fusing of the natural healing bone, so I had a date to work towards to when I could potentially pick up my bow again and shoot some arrows. September 2020 couldn’t come quick enough. I did my daily physio exercises gradually building up to weight-bearing seemed to take a while but got up to a can of beans in each hand by August. I prepared at home using my Bow-trainer too, very useful to help me hold poundage daily.

By August, I started looking into the possibility of shooting, Boris put the kibosh on that happening with his second lockdown. Time to get the kit I needed to shoot at a lower poundage, so new limbs with a  lower poundage rating, strings, nocks and arrows to match, all ordered online and delivered with only 1 lot of bent arrows arriving by courier & replaced Free of Charge.

Renewal time all done online ok and new cards received, ready to go just needed to set nock point on string and fire a few to check pressure button setting, but no one available to help me make the needed adjustments or a shooting venue to attend so time to find a new club and get some help getting back to shooting. Lockdowns, shielding, Christmas all came and went but still no arrows shot yet and new year is nearly here.

A ray of hope was offered by Helen Sharpe, the possibility of a shooting venue for me and help too, what a lift this was to hear. Under the disabled archer exemption I was going to be able to shoot at Aim4Sport and met Dave Leader there on my first session. So had a date set, Helen acting as my agent, escort and driver collected me and our journey started.

Late January I got to shoot my first 60 arrows in 20 months, It felt so good. Was not going to be able to tune just yet due to freezing fingertips but could guess at where to aim to get on the gold.  Picked a sight setting, the first arrow went under the target, made an adjustment, the second arrow hit the bottom of the boss, by the sixth arrow was nearly on the gold. What a lift that was for me, all those months of worry i.e. will I be able to pull the poundage without hurting myself. All fears put aside, I calmed myself down with a cup of camomile tea and had a sandwich, decided 60 arrows was enough for my first session packed up and dozed off in the car on the way home.

With the continued support of Dave and Helen I am able to continue to improve upon my scores and partake in the sport I love, can’t thank you guys enough for all you have done for me, I think you are great.

Author Archives: Deb Wright

Visually Impaired since 2009 after contracting Swine flu, Moved from Kent to Northamptonshire in 2012.
Starting shooting March 2015 took part in The Chris Mason Dawn Til Dusk challenge and raised £250 for cancer research and set my first County record. Was invited to British Blind Sport National Outdoor Championships in September 2015 at Lilleshall and came home as National Outdoor Champion Recurve VI Open and retained this until 2018, also set a New National, Regional and County Record. Attended British Blind Sport National Indoor Championships in April 2016 at Lilleshall and came home with National Indoor Champion Recurve VI Open and still hold this title.
I have enjoyed helping with raising awareness of visually impaired archery through various magazine articles such as ArcheryGB, Vision produced by Northampton Association for the Blind, Raunds Round Up produced locally and helped Northamptonshire County Council promote their Health and Wellbeing launch with an article filmed in Towcester and on their website, if you want to take a look it’s called “Deb’s story”.
Worshipful Company of Fletchers have funded equipment for me and helped raise awareness of disabled archers through joint ventures, National Disabled Championships at Lilleshall and Fletchers Day for Archers with Disability at Slough with the Royal Toxophilite Society. Which they have kindly invited me to each time the events are announced. Enjoy these events yearly and look forward to meeting up with like minded friends to shoot some arrows.
Had pleasure in claiming numerous National, Regional and County records throughout my progress in archery and use these as milestone to gauge my progression on scores. Having recently just returned to shooting after 20 months out, I aim to break all of my personal bests.
I hope we meet on the shooting line some day, please do come up and introduce yourself to me, its always a pleasure making and meeting new friends in the sport that gives me so much back.