By Brandy Ostanik Medical Department Activity -- Alaska Public Affairs OfficeMarch 4, 2016
FORT BLISS, Texas -- Army athletes lined up at Milam Gym Feb. 28 for the first day of archery practice in hopes of being selected to represent the Army in the 2016 Warrior Games slated to take place at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, New York, June 14-22.
The Army Trials commence March 6 - 10, is an adaptive sports competition for wounded, ill and injured service members and veterans. Approximately 100 athletes are competing in archery, cycling, track and field, shooting, sitting volleyball, swimming and wheelchair basketball.
A group of 45 inured, ill or wounded athletes, selected through regional competitions to attend the Army Trials, will spend the next two weeks working with coaches and competing to earn one of 12 team spots.
Coaches will select six athletes to compete in recurve bow and six for compound bow. Out of these, three athletes will be chosen in each category to compete in the overall team competition.
According to head coach for the team, retired Staff Sgt. Jessie White, the time spent with the athletes at the trials is to find the right mix for the team and says he isn't necessarily looking for the athletes who score the highest in these preliminary competitions.
"We are looking for their ability to be coached, a positive attitude and how they work as a member of a team," said White.
In addition to 120 to 150 shots the athletes will be shooting each day during practice, athletes are focusing on the mental aspect of the sport.
During the course of the first practice session, White encouraged athletes to take eight to 10 seconds between each shot and to not focus on their scores.
"Focus on your shot process. We can coach you to move that arrow where you need it to go, but the process of your shot, that's all yours," said White.
The athletes selected to represent the Army will have a big target on their back from the other branches of services, says White.
"Make no mistake," says White to team hopefuls. "That Army star is a bullseye, and they are gunning for you."
"We took every medal but two last year," said White while addressing the athletes. "This year we intend to take all of them.