Former RAF Regiment serviceman Darren Kamara is taking part in this month's Invictus Games which starts on 10 September in London. The Games will see injured servicemen and women from around the world competing in a range of sports including athletics, road cycling and swimming. Darren is taking part in the archery competition and in this guest blog, he tells us how his training for the Games has been coming along.
After finding out I had made the team for the Invictus Games, I decided that I'd have to ramp up my training and push harder to get to a level I'd be happy with.
Tony Ferguson, a coach at Stoke Mandeville, put me in touch with Netherhall Archery, an archery club in Cambridge where I've been having three extra practice sessions a week.
Unfortunately the first session at the club was a bit of a washout as we had something close to a moonson that day so I didn't get to do any outdoor shooting.
I had my first official practice session with the team a few Saturdays ago at Stoke Mandeville. However my shooting was a little off for most of the day and I found I was chasing my shots a lot. And no matter what I did, I couldn't quite nail down the problem.
We were introduced to the head-to-head format expected at the Games and practiced some rounds but still my ends were not consistent and I finished early, pretty sore and more than a bit annoyed with my performance.
I had also at this point bought a set of weights and on the days I was not at the club, I'd taken up a routine of trying to strengthen my arms and shoulders as my injury made holding the bow for a full shoot extremely difficult and I was losing points towards the end.
When I returned to the club for my next practice session I finally got the chance to do some outdoor shooting. However I struggled to maintain a consistent level and I couldn't figure out why until there was a loud click. That's when I spotted that a grub screw had come away. A new grub screw was found and my shooting was instantly improved!
After a good weight training session at home the next day, I returned to the club the following evening to do some more practicing. I returned again on the Saturday and I found that I was starting to adapt a lot more; my session was far better. I attempted a few different distances and I could see the difference in my shooting.
The following Sunday and Monday were light training days, 30 arrows each day. I went back to the club again on Tuesday and had a very good session. I had a chat with the coaches there and we decided that since I was using a lighter bow, it'd be a good idea for me to use a stabilizer to bring my consistency up even more. I'd previously tried this in the States when I took part in the Warrior Games but I found the extra weight too much for my shoulder to take.
However this new lighter bow didn't put on too much pressure. I shot my last six ends with the stabilizer and left pretty pleased. My shots felt a lot better on release and I hit nines and tens all the way through, with the exception of two dropped shots that landed in the eight score zone.
I have two more club practice sessions coming up before I leave for the Invictus Games warm up and Opening Ceremony and then it'll all begin.
By Darren Kamara