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Photo of Phil at SRSB

Reading an article in an SRSB newsletter more than a decade ago sent client Phil’s life in a totally new direction and changed it for the better. He was still in his 40s when sight loss due to diabetes meant that Phil lost his house, his job and his car.

He could not see more than three feet and was sitting at home, understandably feeling depressed when reading the article about visually impaired archery led him to give it a try. He is now ranked 4th in the world at the sport which has taken him to places he never thought he would visit.

“Sport does help to take your mind off things. I read about it in the newsletter and decided I would give it a go. It turned out to be the best thing I ever did, thanks to SRSB.”

Phil’s first real contact with the charity was on a taster course to learn about computers. He then heard about the archery and decided to give it a go. “I’d never done it before, the last time I’d had an arrow in my hand it had a sucker on the end of it. But I went along and enjoyed it and kept going.”

Archery also changed the life of Phil’s wife Marina who goes everywhere with him as he needs someone to “spot” for him – tell him where the arrows are in the target which is 18m away and well out of his sight range. He also uses tactile sight and foot locators which enable him to take aim.

Phil has gone on to become a top VI archer representing his country. He has seven national titles and has competed at European and World level in Holland and France and the Czech Republic. He should have competed in Sardinia but the pandemic prevented that. He is hoping his next big competition the Nationals, will go ahead.

Of course Phil puts in a huge amount of practise too to fine tune his skills with the bow, hours and hours every week. He is also a member of local archery clubs and the Archery Group which meets on Wednesday from 10am at the Northern General Hospital gym (please check with the group for latest Covid updates).

“I am now in my 60’s and I am the second youngest member of the club. I can recommend it. We are also in need of volunteer drivers as not everybody can get someone to bring them.”

As well as getting satisfaction from taking part in VI archery, Phil has also met lots of new people and made friends. He’s also had success in competitions against sighted people. 

He’s looking forward to competing again now but does still wish, despite the success he’s had in prestigious competitions, that he had a chance to go to the Olympics. Unfortunately VI archery is not accepted at the moment. If the powers that be can agree to change that, Phil will definitely have his sights set on the Paralympics.

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Sheffield Royal Society for the Blind links