I was introduced to archery at a very young age. This was kind of expected of the boys from our family that grew up in the back woods of the eastern end of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. My first bow was a 30 to 50 LB Darton compound bow. My dad bought it for my 11Th Birthday. It had no sights and when I asked my dad why the bow didn’t have sights he replied with “you have to earn them” so I asked being young and naive “how do I earn them then” and that is when he told me. When you can put six arrows in a pie plat at 15 yards I will get you sights for your bow. I spent all summer shooting that year trying to put six arrows in a pie plate. This was a hard task to accomplish at my age and at times I got so discouraged I just wanted to quite but my passion for hunting at this age had only begun. As the summer went by I tried my best but could never really get the hang of it completely.  My dad would watch and coach me telling me that I was dropping my arm or I wasn’t keeping my anchor points the same it was ruff. Plus my fingers would hurt from shooting for hours.   

  

    Then one day my dad while he was watching and coaching me I got really frustrated I was at 15 yards and still could not get my group to get any smaller than the size of a plate. He started to talk to me about  when I was even younger and how he would take me with him some times to meet a group of guys that always came to the Upper Peninsula from Ohio to bow hunt. These guys were quite the group they loved to party and tell stories about when they were younger and all the trouble they got into as they grew up.  For a kid it made going to deer camp so much fun. But it was there at deer camp around all those guys and my dad that I had learned about instinctive shooting. All the guys would get ready for opening day by pulling out a hundred dollar bill and put them on the bail of hay. The first one to put the arrow in the center of the bill at 20 yards won that round then they would back up to 30 yards and do it all over again sometimes they would even go as far as trying to do trick shots. It was this day that I remembered all the guys out shooting at those bills. How could they do it, what were they doing that I wasn’t. Then I realized they were just honing there skills to make them selves better and having fun while doing it.

 

    My dad asked me why don’t you go back to 5 yards and shoot. I looked at him and said but dad I have already mastered the pie plate at those ranges. That is when he reminded me about those guys and him shooting at the hundred dollar bills at 20 yards.  He then told me that if I move back up to 5 yards.  I would need to start working at grouping my arrows tighter in the target and picking different points on the target to aim at and you will improve. I took his advice and moved back up to the 5 yard mark and shot at the target like he told me. I felt like I had started all over again. But to my surprise I learned pretty quick that my grouping was not all that great and when I picked different points on the target I would be a half inch to a inch off.   I finally got the hang of it after I went back to the 5 yard mark and started over.  It was the summer I turned 12. I finally was able to put the six arrows in the pie plate at 15 yards. I got my sights and to boot my dad got me the new ball bearing release.  

 

    I have shot my fair share of deer in the past years with my bows that I have owned. I joined the Army in August of 2001 and it wasn’t till I deployed in February 2007 for Operation Iraq Freedom that would change my life. While I was deployed in Iraq we lost our first Soldier in March 2007 to a vehicle born improvised device. It was a dump truck loaded with 16,000 lbs of explosives that put a thirty foot crater in the ground. Since that day we had minor casualties up until August 2007.  When a Black Hawk crashed and Fourteen Soldiers perished in the wreck from the 25thInfantry Division. It was the day of the memorial service for the fourteen. My whole Company went to the memorial service paying there respect to the fallen Soldiers. I am not sure to this day why I left early to go back to my office but I did. It was there at my office where I meet SGT Collins, CPL Cornell, and PFC Axtell. I let every one in the office mind you that our office was your basic tin garage package minus the garage doors.  I was sitting at my desk and just finished talking to SGT Collins and CPL Cornell as they turned to leave and PFC Axtell was just entering the building from smoking a cigarette.  When a 127mm Brazilian rocket land five meters from the building. SGT Collins was KIA instantly he also took the brunt of everything that would have hit me. CPL Cornell was seriously wounded he received multiple wounds to his legs and upper body. PFC Axtell was also seriously wounded both of his legs were severed off at the waste. I was not wounded as bad as everyone else due to SGT Collins being only a foot and half away from me and taking the brunt of the shrapnel that would have hit me. I was the only one to walk out of that building on my own two feet that day. CPL Cornell and PFC Axtell are both doing really good and are a big inspiration to me on how i live my life now. PFC Axtell now SPC is out of the Army and has competed in two triathlon’s since he was wounded.

  

  I was very lucky that day for I must of had someone watching over me. I received shrapnel wounds to my right eye, top of the head and down the left side of my body. I was medivac to ballad, Iraq were they did my first surgery on my right eye to remove a large junk of shrapnel from my cornea that was allowing the fluid to leak out from my eye. I was then medivac back to Brook Army Medical Center in Texas. It was at Wilford Hall in Texas that I meet a Air force Doctor (Dr. Lane). He conducted my second Surgery which consisted of removing the rest of the shrapnel that was in my right eye and draining all the bad fluid and blood, he also did a lens transplant and sewed my Iris shut this surgery took around three hours. Since then I had a detached retina surgery in June 2009 to boot.  The seriousness of the eye injury is why I am here writing today it has been almost two years since that day in Iraq and my shooting style had to change.

 

    I just recently purchased my first left handed Compound Bow a Mathews Hyperlite.  But it took me a long time to finally switch to a left hand bow but I am glad that I did.  When I first got back from the hospital in September 2007 I was stationed at Fort Riley, KS the home of Monster Whitetail. I went straight into trying to make pins for my hoyt bow that would allow me to shot my right handed bow. I went to home depot and purchased some threaded rod 1/8 inch and took the dermal and started to make the pins I then found a old cobra sight bracket it all fit together perfectly but the bow look hideous. I didn’t care as long as it worked. The second time out in the woods I forgot my glasses and I took a stick to the right eye walking out in the dark so that ended archery season that year for me. I was then sent to Fort Carson, Co in June 2008 I love it here. I got so excited when I got out here “Elk” was the only thing I could think of and archery season was coming. I got my hoyt out and started to practice but after shooting right handed with my left eye it started to feel uncomfortable and I wasn’t sure why. I passed up a spike elk that season at 36 yards because I started to doubt myself and the ability to shoot right handed with being left eye dominate now.

 

    So in February of 2009 I bought a Mathews Hyperlite. This bow is awesome and Bill set me up right in every way. I went in to the Archery hut here in Colorado Springs and talked to the owner Bill about my situation and explained what I was looking for in a bow. He pulled his bow out from the office and said this is my hunting bow a Mathews right handed Hyperlight. He says its smooth easy to pull and light for packing around after elk. He let me shoot his hyperlite and I fell in love with that bow. After I shot it I looked at Bill and told him to order me one in left hand 55 to 65 lb pull.

 

   

I have been going to the range every chance I get to shoot it.  Took only two weeks to make the switch completely of brushing my right arm with the string and get the form of left handed shooting down. I am now once again chomping at the bit for elk archery season to begin. I will say this much from shooting right handed to switching to left handed it takes practice and it can be done. I am now shooting as good if not better left handed then I was right handed all because of the growing pains that I went through as a kid and learning how to shoot instinctive.  If you are going to learn you must be able to step back and think about everything you are doing in all situations to be able to grow in life.              

  

SGT Bennett

United States Army

 

“An army of deer led by a lion is more to be feared than an army of lions led by a deer.”

Chabrias 410–375 B.C.