Big Country veterans battle PTSD with archery

For three years, Abilene Vet Center and Abilene Bow Hunter’s Association have offered a unique opportunity to Big Country Military Combat Veterans. The annual ‘Foam is our Friend’ archery competition brings Abilene-area veterans together to test their archery skills and find solace in coping with post-traumatic stress.

Veterans from various service branches engage in friendly competition and camaraderie, creating connections irrespective of service era. Archery offers them a therapeutic escape, allowing them to be fully present in the moment. For many, like U.S. Army Veteran Daniel Winegeart, who grapples with PTSD due to overseas deployment experiences, archery serves as a valuable outlet. Unlike firearms, the quiet focus of archery minimizes stress and anxiety triggered by loud noises or gunfire.

These mental health retreats, centered around archery, provide a lifeline for veterans struggling with PTSD. The quiet and meditative nature of archery eases their trauma, offering them an alternative path to healing. As U.S. Marine Corps Veteran Manny Rios, who retired after almost 24 years, emphasized, these retreats have opened doors for individuals who once found it challenging to engage and connect with others. It has significantly reduced anger and irritation, allowing veterans to navigate various situations more effectively.

In a similar vein, mental health retreats in New England hold promise in aiding individuals with PTSD, providing them with a serene environment and therapeutic activities to heal and find peace.