By Annette P. Gomes, Warrior Care and TransitionApril 10, 2018
ARLINGTON, Va. -- Staff Sgt. Stephanie Brown has a passion for archery, so much so she's passed it down to her daughters; Debra and Katharina.
"I got my USA Archery level one certification with the Girl Scouts of Central Kentucky and I began volunteering with my kids' high school and middle school teams as an assistant coach," Brown said. "My girls and I really enjoy archery because it allows everyone, no matter what their ability, physically or mentally, to be able to play."
Brown knows first-hand about physical challenges. Despite being diagnosed with carnal malformation of the brain, severe scoliosis, osteoporosis, and bursitis in her hips and knees, she has continued her love of archery.
"Archery allows me to continue being active. I was never hesitant about it or other adaptive sports because it allowed me to do everything I enjoyed doing while helping others experience something new," she said.
As Brown's children's enthusiasm for archery grew, she and her husband Kevin decided it was time to share their "wealth" of knowledge surrounding the sport to other children in the community. After she moved to Killeen, Texas and got settled at Fort Hood, Brown spoke to Fort Hood's Child and Youth Services about starting an archery program that taught the 11 principles of archery, whistle commands and range safety.
"Child and Youth Services had the bows and we promoted the program through SKIES (School of Knowledge, Inspiration, Exploration, and Skills) Unlimited on Fort Hood in April of 2017," Brown recalled. "We started our first class with only three students the first week in June at the old Garden Center on Fort Hood. By the following weekend we were at maximum capacity of 10 students for the amount of targets we had. The following month I had to add a second class to the program and it was also full", said Brown.
The Browns decided to move their program into a 4,500 square-foot facility to accommodate their growing roster. She also found an added bonus as the roster expanded.
"Becoming an archery coach allowed me to share my family's passion with other people. We have given some of the parents an opportunity to share their children's passion for archery by having them try the sport themselves," Brown said. "Our students love the program; they return every month for new challenges. We started the class by age break down, but we've changed to a beginner's course and an intermediate course and added a 12th principle: to have fun," she laughed.
Brown teaches students to analyze their steps and focus on improving one thing at a time. This approach, Brown believes is a recipe for success on the archery range, in the classroom, and in life.
"When teaching archery, we tell the kids 'one arrow at a time.' You cannot take that last shot back and you need to concentrate on the next arrow," Brown said. "We try to teach them to reflect on their last shot only so they can make improvements. If they dwell on it, it will affect their next shot. I tell them to close their eyes and to take a breath to refocus."