Blind veterans compete in archery contest

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BLIND veterans from the Royal Navy, Army and RAF went head to head in an archery championship.

The tournament took place at HMS Collingwood in Fareham yesterday.

3/6/2014 (KB)''HMS Collingwood in Fareham hosted an archery challenge event on Tuesday, when the Tri Service team take on archers from Blind Veterans UK.''Picture: Sarah Standing (141626-8398)

3/6/2014 (KB)''HMS Collingwood in Fareham hosted an archery challenge event on Tuesday, when the Tri Service team take on archers from Blind Veterans UK.''Picture: Sarah Standing (141626-8398)

The tournament saw archers take aim at targets at a range of 40 and 30 yards. Archers use a handicap system, similar to golf, depending on skill and level of disability.

Some use a bar to guide their hand, a foot rest to get a good position and are given advice by a person standing behind them.

David Poyner, chairman of Blind Veterans’ Archery, was taking part.

He served at HMS Collingwood during his time as a Marine Engineering Artificer in the Royal Navy and lost his sight in 1988, after he fell into a coma for 30 days due to a rare neurodegenerative disorder called MELAS syndrome.

He said his involvement with Blind Veterans UK helped him to come to terms with his sight loss by introducing him to archery.

The 57-year-old said: ‘I have always been a sporty man. When I lost my sight, I thought “what do I do now?”

‘The charity got me into archery and I enjoy it.’

Mr Poyner shot for Britain in 2003 and 2004 and has been instrumental in getting blind archery recognised as a paralympic sport.

He added: ‘It is an English sport and it’s a traditional sport. You have to be fit for it, it’s not just a case of pulling back a bow.’

Linda Dickinson, from RN South Coast Archers, which practise at HMS Collingwood, organised the event.

She said: ‘It’s one of the biggest shoots of the year.’

There were three prizes up for grabs.

This year the shield, the Britannia Trophy and the Garrard Trophy were all won by the Blind Veterans’ Charity, formerly known as St Dunstan’s.