Despite accident, one-armed archer pursues sport

Quitting was never an option for one-armed Paralympian archer Kevin Evans.

Kevin Evans aims his arrow at a target during the 2009 Silverscent Indoor 3D National Archery Championships at the Westerner Park Agri-Centre Saturday with the help of a specially designed brace. Evans lost his left arm in an oilfield accident but hasn’t let that stop him from setting four world records in archery.

Quitting was never an option for one-armed Paralympian archer Kevin Evans.

Evans woke up in hospital nine years ago and discovered he’d lost his left arm at the shoulder in an oilfield accident.

“The first thing I said to my brother, after asking him to make sure my wife and kids know that I’m OK, is: ‘You have nine months to figure out how I’m going to go bow hunting this September,’” said Evans.

The die-hard hunter never doubted he’d re-learn how to use the bow and arrow — the 46-year-old said his parents had always taught him to persevere and do his best, so he didn’t expect any less of himself.

“There’s no sense giving up. I believe you can do whatever you want, you just have to come up with a way to do it,” said the Calgary-born archer, who was one of 307 people who competed at the 2009 Silverscent Canada Indoor 3-D Archery Championship in Red Deer on the weekend.

Shortly after his accident, Evans first began experimenting with a mouth-released bowstring, but it proved unsatisfactory.

He then tried a new design by former Rimbey resident Tom Wright that was much better. Evans has since refined the harness, or brace, that he puts over his left shoulder to help hold his bow. He uses his right arm to push the bow out and anchor it, but its release mechanism is controlled with his chin.

“When I’m ready to shoot, I just relax my jaw,” said Evans, who uses his refined design to help other one-armed archers.

The four-time world record-setter said he never intended to compete in archery.

“If anyone had told me I’d be in the Paralympics nine years ago, I would have said, ‘You’re crazy.’”

But Evans, who now lives in Cranbrook, B.C., was talked into entering a national archery competition for able-bodied athletes in 2004, where he achieved the fifth spot overall.

As he was only a few points shy of the world record for a disabled archer, he began his Paralympic training in 2005. (He’s one of only about three one-armed athletes who shoot competitively. Most disabled archers have two arms, but might be in wheelchairs.)

Evans hoped for a medal at Beijing, but accidentally misfired and got the 6th spot. He’s already aiming for a medal at the 2012 Paralympic games in London, England.

“I was one of those people who never would have travelled outside my own country, and now I’ve been all over Europe, Asia, all over the U.S.,” said Evans, who considers the last five years among the best in his life.

A highlight was having his wife and two kids at the 2008 Beijing Paralympics. “It was so awesome. I’ll never forget it,” he said.

He would like others to realize there are always ways around life’s obstacles.

Silverscent championship organizer Mike Screen of Red Deer, called the weekend event at the Westerner a great success. More people than expected signed up — there were competitors from Ontario to British Columbia.

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