Wheelchair athlete takes aim at archery

Grant Philip and his archery set. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
Grant Philip and his archery set. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
Grant Philip is a man who is always looking for a target.

Philip (49), of Oxford in North Canterbury, is attending the Masters Games in Dunedin next year, in what will be his second visit to the city for the Games.

But it will not be in shooting, a sport where he has represented his country in for more than a decade.

Philip, who has been in a wheelchair since an accident when he was a teenager, will be lining up in the para archery and also in indoor rowing.

Philip was a shooter of note and represented New Zealand at two world para shooting championships and at other competitions around the world. He lined up in 10m indoor target air rifle category.

But a couple of years ago, Philip decided he wanted to give something else a go and focused on archery.

"After doing shooting for 12 years, which is a long time, it was getting tiring and I wanted to do something else. Also I had the chance to go to the Invictus Games last year with the NZ Defence Force with archery in Sydney," he said.

"I probably did not do as well as I wished when I was over there but the whole atmosphere was amazing."

It is not easy for Philip to partake in archery.

His injury, which occurred more than 30 years ago when he dived into a sand bar while attempting to dive into the sea, has left him with little power in his limbs. His triceps does not work so being able to pull back the string and then hold the bow is very hard.

But he has adapted the equipment so he can compete, when sitting in a wheelchair.

He has a carbon fibre brace on the arm to lift the bow and an adapted wrist guard to help pull the string back. He uses his teeth to bite down on a trigger which releases the string to get the arrow to head towards the target.

Philip said he had just used a bit of Kiwi ingenuity to get his archery equipment working well and his shooting was coming together.

Before his accident he was a sheet metal engineer and also a Territorial soldier, thus his appearance at the Invictus Games.

He would also compete in indoor rowing when he used his arms mainly to get his speed on.

He also does mouth art, where he holds a brush in his mouth and paints. This started more than 15 years ago via a scholarship with the Association of Mouth and Foot Painting Artists.

"My goal with painting is to become a full member with the association and no longer be dependent on compensation."

Philip is one of the first to enter and said he really enjoyed the Games in 2018.

By already sending in his entry, Philip has saved money by having to just pay the early bird entry fee of $65, which is in place until December 2. Organisers are urging those keen to get in before the cut-off date to save some money.

After this the fee reverts to the standard $95. Individual sport fees are on top of that.

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