Overcoming obstacles: Vision-impaired students competing in archery program

Published 10:28 am Thursday, April 12, 2018

As part of the National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP) training sessions, instructors are taught the 11 steps to archery success. Each step of the process is geared to properly aiming and shooting the bow. The most basic aspect of archery is just that — aiming the bow.

Hunters, Olympic archers, or even recreational target shooters will all focus their eyes on the target for long periods of time ensuring the perfect aiming point before releasing their arrow. Now, try to imagine doing the same thing blindfolded having never shot a bow before in your life.

This is exactly what JACES students Dalton and Miranda Burgan are doing this season. Both are part of the archery team at JACES. The brother and sister duo are also visually impaired.

“When they (Miranda and Dalton) told me they wanted to be part of the archery team at school, I didn’t know how it could work,” said their mother, Jennifer Burgan. “I spoke to Coach (Ben) Johnson and Coach (Kyle) Jones and they were both extremely supportive of both of them participating. They offered to purchase equipment to aid them in shooting or anything else they could do to help.”

Burgan said, “They have both been so supportive of Miranda and Dalton.”

Johnson said he is pleased to see Miranda and Dalton participating; he is also pleased with their success.

“They are two of the sweetest kids you will ever meet, with the best attitudes you could ask for,” said Johnson. “Dalton is shyer, and Miranda is more outgoing. Both of them love participating in archery and being a part of a school sport. They are always ready to go during practice and have attended every one of them.”

Johnson said, “The sound of the arrow hitting the target always brings a smile to their faces.”

For the siblings to be able to shoot, Johnson purchased a piece of equipment which emits high-pitched beeps which he places behind the target toward which Miranda and Dalton shoot. When they are ready to shoot he turns the device on remotely, helps them nock their arrow, and gives slight assistance in aiming before they shoot.

They are becoming very accurate with their shooting as well, with Dalton finishing in sixth place and Miranda finishing in seventh place for their team (out of ten scores) at the recent Wildcat Invitational Archery Tournament held at Evarts Elementary.

“I was very impressed with both Miranda and Dalton,” Evarts Archery Coach Greg Lewis stated. “Their form was perfect. Give them a little time to practice and they will be a force to contend with in any tournaments they compete in.”

Principal John Carter said, “Dalton and Miranda are such a breath of fresh air to JACES. They’re new to our school, and have fit right in from day one. If you didn’t know better, you’d never realize they had vision impairments. They carry on with daily routines just as the other students.”

Carter said to see them excelling in the archery program “comes as no surprise to me whatsoever. They are both such a blessing to their school, their peers, their teachers and their principal.”

Miranda and Dalton will return to action on April 13 at 4 p.m. as JACES hosts its first archery tournament.