"Aim For the Moon..." The Gold medal speaks for itself.
Wilfried Peersman (Antwerp Belgium)
I took up archery in July last year - something I wanted to do for an age hadn't, until after a gruelling and demoralising run of events within my immediate family that was compacted into a few short years; mental illnesses; attempted suicide; grandmother with cancer and passing away; Dad leaving Mum for another woman and remarrying; both parents getting cancer; Mum dying, with Dad eleven months after. Heavy drinking and pot smoking to numb the pain had almost got the better of me and a day finally came when I'd decided, 'enough already'. I began with changing my nutrition (another story), then taking up a long held aspiration.
The style of archery I chose is called Barebow, also known as Instinctive or Intuitive, using a recurve bow. There's only the bow, string and arrow - denuded of all mechanical aids to help aim - apart from some basics in stance and technique, one uses the mind to will the arrow into the centre of the target.
To get a taste of competitive archery, I looked into what was available to me given my lack of experience and current ratings to qualify in archery comps. I found that Antwerp, Belgium, was hosting the third WorldOutGames - a conglomerate of sporting and cultural events along with a human rights convention held over ten days. Participation was open to men and women of all ages and sexual orientation.
Archery was a sport one could register in with the only requirements being that you knew the rules; how to play; have own equipment and could fund yourself to get there. The deposit for a home was raided promptly, though my piggy bank squealed in protest.
The archery event was set over two days, August 6-7, and upon arrival, my best tfriend (who'd also entered), met the organiser, informing us we were the only two Barebow archers and had the choice to compete with the other 16 women using sights, or we can set off between ourselves, as he had some spare medals - something you wouldn't see in the Gay Games, let alone the Olympics - so we thought 'what the heck, let's do without the competition jitters and really have some fun.'
In barebowing, as a novice you tend to miss the target more than an archer would using sights. It was a relief to hear every now and then, a "thwack" from an arrow loosed by another archer, finding wood behind the target. Shot after shot, hour after hour, I began to tire but thanks went to my personal trainer, Leila Lutz from Momentum for Life in Mosman, for preparing my body to cope with this type of endurance. Then there was my hypnotherapist, also an archer of many decades, whom helped me work through the deep grief, and to aim for the moon.
Come finals time, I stood along the shooting line, already feeling jubilant that I had come this far, physically and emotionally.
The Gold medal speaks for itself.