WHILE most archers need to see where they are shooting, later this month a small group of the blind and vision impaired will learn that technique matters more than eyeing the target.
Blind Sports Victoria is joining forces with Waverley City Archers to offer archery classes to vision-impaired athletes.
Program co-ordinator Graham Williams, of the Waverley City Archers said it was the group's plan to expand their membership and share their love for the sport.
With advice from top blind US archer Janice Waith, the British Blind Society and the US Association of Blind Archers, the group has been able to construct equipment to guide participants. The custom-made apparatus resembles a tripod and indicates to archers where to place their feet. At the top of the tripod is a sighting aid that can be adjusted so the archer knows where to place the bow.
A spotter stands behind the archers and tells them where their arrow has hit the target. A clock face is used to indicate angle and the colours of the rings for depth.
Mr Williams said vision-impaired archers were often more consistent than their counterparts with full sight.
"The techniques that are used in blind archery are exactly the same as normal archery, sighted archery.
"It's just that the blind archers, by virtue of the fact that they can't see, are far more consistent. They're not distracted by sighting the target.
"Because it depends on consistency and self-discipline and being able to override distractions, archery . . . would be a sport that's most suitable for [the vision-impaired]."
William Anderson, 41, is one of six people who have already signed up to the program.
"It just sounds absolutely fascinating," he said.
Captain (retired) Anderson served in the Australian army for seven years before an armoured vehicle accident took away his vision more than 18 years ago.
"I'd really like to give it a go," he said.
"When I achieve the target shot as an archer, it'll just help me to stay motivated and stay dedicated to doing something that I reckon I'm going to enjoy."
The program will run every fortnight for four sessions. Starting dates are January 23 at 10am, January 27 at 12.30pm, January 31 at 6pm and February 6 at 10am.
Anyone interested can call Susan at Blind Sports Victoria on 9822 8876 or email Graham of the Waverley City Archers at firstname.lastname@example.org.