When I decided to became a coach, I was encouraged to get certified by Mariano Agustín, at the time, Range Master at Rancho Park.
After I got my certification, and before I got to teach on my own (also encouraged by him) I began helping him with some classes. While helping him on a summer camp for cancer survivors in Malibu he encouraged me to teach a blind man how to shoot (Can you see the pattern here?). He gave me a couple of pointers, and there I went…The shooter did fantastically and hit a bulls eye with his first arrow.
This was not the first time I coached a blind person. Years before I taught a group of legally blind and completely blind kids how to sail a boat. I was amazed by this kids. One of them was a goalie on a blind soccer team, another one was a cycling champion and the third was a champion blind skier. I figure that if they were good enough to compete on their respective sports, I should not have any problems teaching them to sail…and I did not. They learned quickly, and probably sailed better at the end of the day than any of my other students. I always had a lot of problems teaching my students to “see” the wind. I would always get the same answer: “But Skipper, by definition you can´t see the wind,” followed by eye rolling. Yes, you can, but it requires keeping your eyes open, and what is more important, your mind open. You will see the birds flying in an specific direction, the effect of the wind on the surface of the ocean, the way the waves move, the direction of the foam once the waves crash against the boat, etc.
I ask these three blind kids to feel the wind and in no time they were able to feel where it was coming from. They had an unencumbered mind. As the saying goes, they did not know that it was impossible, so they did it. That made me think a lot about the limits we put to ourselves. I don´t know how many times I said to myself, “Oh, I can´t do that” just because I did not want to make the effort, to then have my ass kicked by kids or people like this. I have to learn myself to keep my eyes open. As Gandalf said, “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”
Anyway, sorry for my rambling. All this came because an article I read today at Wired Magazine and an email I got this week from someone that wanted me to teach this blind kid to shoot a bow. If this is not Mariano kicking my ass in gear from the afterlife, I don´t know what it is.
Yes, if you want to learn archery, and you have use of one arm and one hand, I´ll do what I can to teach you to shoot a bow.