Paralympic athlete from Perry shoots for local archery ranges

chwright@macon.comMarch 2, 2013 

A Paralympic archer wants to bring her favorite sport to Houston County.

“Archery is for everybody,” said Lee Ford-Faherty, of Perry. “You don’t have to be the biggest or the strongest or the fastest. You don’t have to be super skinny or super big.”

Ford-Faherty has been trying to persuade local governments to lend space for a recreation team and equipment shops to install an indoor range. It hasn’t been an easy sell, but Ford-Faherty’s not so used to easy any way.

After returning from the London Paralympic Games last year, Ford-Faherty began the Middle Georgia Archery Club. Since October, the club has had 19 regular attendees to its Saturday classes at Flat Creek Public Fishing Area. The club welcomes anyone older than age 7, including seniors.

But the 3-D range of fake animals at Flat Creek isn’t ideal for learning proper archery etiquette with bull’s-eye targets, Ford-Faherty said.

“It’s not the right height, and the land is very hilly,” she said.

Ford-Faherty said she’s hopeful the city of Perry and local shops will agree to build facilities. She’s not asking for much, just a designated flat area to set up targets.

“I learned to shoot in a welding shop,” she said.

Progress has been slow with archery equipment stores, which Ford-Faherty says would reap a huge return on their investment through range time fees from archers and teams throughout the region.

At Monday’s work session, Perry City Council will review a proposal Ford-Faherty and Recreation Director Rick Kilgore submitted that shows how targets could be set up at the recreation department.

“Council is interested in providing it as a program or opportunity for the residents of the Perry area, assuming that there are not any financial or legal burdens to it,” said Lee Gilmour, city manager.

Ford-Faherty said she wants to relaunch a Perry archery team that disbanded in 2007. If successful, Houston County would once again have a team to compete in statewide competitions held at the Georgia National Fairgrounds and Agricenter in Perry.

“Even Peach County has a team,” Ford-Faherty said.

Beyond competition, Ford-Faherty said “the ultimate equalizing sport” would provide an outlet for students of all abilities.

It was the sport she turned to while battling Crohn’s and Celiac sprue, diseases that have degenerative effects on her musculoskeletal system. Five years ago, an accident that paralyzed her left leg ended her speedskating career. Ever the competitor, she picked up a bow and arrow.

“I’m definitely a better person because of archery,” she said. “And I want to help Houston County” do the same for students.

Ford-Faherty said the sport teaches self-discipline, math skills, concentration and personal responsibility. Those lessons could be the deciding factor keeping some students in school, she said.

“This is going to reach the kids that aren’t reached by the other school sports,” Ford-Faherty said.

Not only is archery another avenue for students as young as 8 years old who don’t excel at other sports, but it’s safer, Ford-Faherty points out.

According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, the sport is safer than field sports “where people risk collisions or falls.”

“Especially impressive is the fact that archery maintains a consistently high safety record despite the fact that participants range from grade-school children to senior citizens, many of whom have never before picked up a bow and arrow,” states a report by the Archery Trade Association.

Archery is everywhere these days, Ford-Faherty said. There’s the television show, “Arrow,” “The Hunger Games” movie series and even an archery scene in the latest Batman movie, “The Dark Knight Rises.”

“With all the archery movies going on ... it’s crazy to not have the facilities,” she said.

To contact writer Christina M. Wright, call 256-9685.

The Telegraph is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service