By Shannon Collins, DoD NewsMay 5, 2016
WASHINGTON -- Former Army Spc. Chasity Kuczer set records at the 2015 Department of Defense Warrior Games, as the first-ever female gold medalist in archery and the highest individual scorer ever in the coed competition.
She helped her Army team earn gold in the team competition as well. She also earned gold medals in the women's seated discus throw and discus in track and field and gold medals in team swimming and a silver medal for the backstroke. Kuczer hopes to continue her streak in archery for Team America at the 2016 Invictus Games at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida.
Kuczer said she has had several surgeries since Warrior Games last year, but she's been working up her strength and shooting. "I've been shooting considerably higher scores than last year," she said. "I want to get gold; I've been training for gold. We'll have to see how the cards fall."
More than 500 wounded, ill and injured service members from 15 nations will compete in 10 sporting events from May 8 to 12, as they are cheered on by thousands of family members, friends and spectators.
GROWING UP SHOOTING
Growing up in Seymour, Wisconsin, Kuczer said she practically grew up with a bow in one hand and a shotgun in the other. The locomotive mechanic said she's been shooting archery since she was 4 and grew up shooting shotguns, rifle and skeet.
"I did archery competitions; I went to nationals in 2010 for trap skeet and sporting clays," she said. "I also went to nationals for archery in 2008. I was the top four in the state and then the top 25 percent at nationals."
For shooting competitions, she said she used 22s. She loved to shoot skeet, but now it's difficult for her because of her injury.
Kuczer works on the electric, maintenance, generators and engines on trains for the Army. "I know how to operate a train as well," she said with a smile.
Because of her work on the trains, lifting heavy objects and going up and down heavy steps, she obtained a bilateral labral tear and had to have surgeries to her hips.
"I have problems with my hips, sciatica, nerve damage and problems with my lower back," she said. The hardest part for Kuczer as she recovered from her surgeries was not being outdoors, skeet shooting.
"The surgeries kind of put me back, but adaptive sports at the [Warrior Transition Battalion] made me realize I can do other events. I can still be very active and partake in other sports," she said. "I just needed to stay strong and positive."
MAKING THE TEAM
Kuczer said she's honored to represent the Army and America and is confident in her chances. "At the end of the day, I want to know I did my best," she said. "I've been training extremely hard. I've been practicing shooting, along with shooting in competitions, and when I don't shoot, I weight train."
She said her dad, step-mom and two little sisters will be at the Invictus Games to watch her compete.
"They are really proud of how I've been shooting and for what I've accomplished," Kuczer said. "They said it's great to see me smile again like I used too, to see something good coming out of something bad. It's nice seeing how I'm an inspiration to my little sisters."
Kuczer said adaptive sports like the Invictus Games are important for wounded warriors and have had a big impact on her. "Adaptive sports and being part of the Warrior Games last year was a great experience," she said. "I have met some of the greatest people on Earth who I am proud to call my family."
Kuczer recommends adaptive sports to any wounded warriors who may be considering them. "They save lives, bring people out of dark times and show them that I may be broken, but I can still play sports and be competitive," she said. "Most of all, they put them with people who understand and push you to do better, be stronger and not to give up the fight."