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WTB Soldier uses archery to help with recovery process

Email   Print   Share By Daniel Cernero, Sentinel Sports Editor
November 21, 2013 | Sports
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Sgt. Shane Lawry, WTB, takes aim at a target while practicing at the Sportmen’s Center’s archery range on post. Daniel Cernero, Sentinel Sports Editor
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Sgt. Shane Lawry, WTB, shows off medals he earned while competing in Midwest Valor Games in Chicago and the Southwest Valor Games in San Antonio. Daniel Cernero, Sentinel Sports Editor
“Archery is a way to clear your mind. You have nothing but what you’re focusing on right in front of you,” said Sgt. Shane Lawry, Company A, Warrior Transition Brigade.

The avenue to clear one’s mind and block out superfluous information is one of the sport’s biggest draws, the Soldier said.

When an improvised explosive device detonated while deployed to Afghanistan as a member of the 101st Airborne Division, Lawry, on dismounted patrol at the time, found himself inside the blast radius.

“I went and checked on my gun team, and when I came back (to a hilltop), an IED exploded in a tree,” said Lawry, describing the incident. “I got hit with a concussion, and it knocked me down. Being on the hill, I didn’t take any shrapnel. I took debris and fell down. I had a bloody nose; I was knocked out and had a concussion.”

With spinal injuries and intense headaches, Lawry was medevaced to a traumatic brain injury clinic in Sharana, Afghanistan, before returning stateside.

Lawry grew up in Wisconsin, where he’d shoot his dad’s longbow as a kid. In middle school, Lawry had his very own compound bow and he began hunting.

Following his deployment, his love for shooting arrows began to fade.

“When I got back from my tour, I wasn’t big into hunting anymore,” Lawry said. “I didn’t do it like I used to. I was dealing with a lot. “

Lawry said once he arrived at the Fort Hood WTB after his second deployment, his interest in archery was piqued again. However, despite years of practical experience with a bow in his hands, it wasn’t until the summer that Lawry received any formal instruction.

At the WTB archery clinic in June, a handful of WTB Soldiers received two days of teaching directly from the Warrior Games archery coach, John Fuller, who travels from installation to installation to share his expertise.

“For a competition, there are a ton of variables,” said Lawry, explaining the differences between hunting or trying to participate in an archery competition. “You have to hit such a small, tight circle. There are so many fundamentals, just like shooting a rifle, and I didn’t know that. I didn’t know the proper way to pull, the way to shoot it.

“I learned a lot through the coach,” Lawry added.

Since the summer, Lawry continued to practice and practice before traveling to Chicago in August to participate in the Midwest Valor Games.

“It’s just myself. I haven’t had a coach, except for that one time,” Lawry said, “but I took notes, and I remember a lot that John said, and it’s helped me out.

“You catch yourself being lazy; you catch yourself,” he added, thinking back through things that Fuller taught him. “You stand up straighter, you tuck your elbow back; things click once you start thinking about it and relaxing and enjoying it more.”

At a camp right before the Midwest Valor Games, he was introduced to how the competition would go.

“I never knew you had a timer, you had a time limit, you had to shoot so many at this distance,” Lawry said. “The language, too. To shoot an arrow is called a volley.”

Taking the experience of having his first competition under his belt, Lawry traveled to San Antonio for the Southwest Valor Games in September.

“I got halfway through, and my rear sight, my rear peep, broke,” Lawry said, describing his gold medal-winning performance. “So I was just using the fundamentals like I was talking about, and I scored higher on my second volleys than my first without a rear sight. I just closed my eyes and went through all of the steps that John did, and I found a point on my string, where it was tied in, where (the peep) was, and I just adjusted. I shot a few to see where it was, and I adjusted.”

The Valor Games became an inspirational event for Lawry, too, after seeing some of the Soldiers compete.

“My roommate got shot in his elbow, and he couldn’t use his right arm, so he’d hold the bow, I’d put the arrow in it, and then turn the string so that he could bite a piece of this leather strap. And he’d pull it back,” Lawry said. “It was his first time ever doing it, and it was amazing just seeing some of these people and their challenges and what they’re going through.

“Going through everything, all my appointments, you get down, you get sick of doing it every day, but they lifted me back up, seeing them keep fighting,” he added. “It’s repetitive, it’s a lot of headaches, but I

don’t complain for any reason anymore.”

Now, Lawry said he’s looking to join an archery club, however, because of his appointment schedule, that’s proving a bit difficult. But continued practice will help him toward his next goal: the 2014 Warrior Games.
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