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Taking aim at mental health: the archery event that's helping veterans and first responders cope

Posted at 7:53 AM, Nov 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-16 14:55:44-05

WEST FALLS, N.Y. (WKBW) — A special event to help veterans and first responders across Western New York focus on their mental health is happening in West Falls this weekend.

And "focus" is the keyword; the West Falls Conservation Society is helping vets and first responders target relaxation through archery.

“Archery it’s nice, quiet, peaceful, just relaxing,” says United States Marine Corps veteran Joshua Fritz.

Paul Calleri, an archery instructor at the Conservation Society — and a veteran himself — says that relaxation comes through repetition.

“Archery is about repetition," Calleri said. "You do the exact same thing every time.”

About 50 people are expected to come out this weekend to pick up a bow and arrow and hopefully, take their minds off things for a little while. And the Conservation Society expanded Night of Giving Back to Veterans and Local Heroes to include first responders this weekend, too.

“They see things most normal people don't," said archery instructor and firegfighter Bryan Zeller. "They’ve had so much to deal with with COVID, they’re coming to us and they want a night out, they want to get away from what we do on a daily basis.”

The event starts at 6:00 p.m. Saturday and those who plan on going say it means the world to them to see this kid of support.

"It’s really cool to see the folks that give a lot for them to get something back," said Air National Guardsman Josh Myers.

And they hope that it will encourage others to come out and learn to shoot, too.

“And you don’t think about anything but what you’re doing and anybody can do it,” said Calleri.