ROCKFORD, Mich. – West Michigan Archery Center hosted a group of Northview Middle and High School students for an adaptive hearing impaired clinic Wednesday.
FOX 17 News first introduced this group of high schoolers in February, when they were planning a visit to Gallaudet University: a liberal arts college known for its design for students who are deaf or hearing impaired.
Shooting a bow and arrow was a first-time experience for many of these students without any idea of what to expect. Although during the clinic, several of them even hit the bullseye.
“I was nervous, I didn’t know how I would do it at first, but I feel like I’m just naturally good at it,” said Citlalli Zavala, Northview High School sophomore.
WMAC hosts different adaptive clinics, and for these students who are deaf or hearing impaired, they made accommodations like TV screens with instructions, and used a timed stoplight instead of the horn they typically use.
"I see when the light changes to red so it’s really helping me focus a lot better,” said Zavala.
The students’ interpreters stood alongside some of the center's two dozen certified archery coaches, who are each volunteers.
“It doesn’t matter whether you’re hearing or not," said Marie Deregnaucourt, Northview High School ASL teacher. “I’m hoping that some of these kids will realize that, no matter what, this can be a safe sport for them to get into.”
Only a year-and-a-half-old nonprofit, WMAC is one of a few facilities funded with grants by the Easton Foundation, as well as the DNR Trust Fund and other local businesses. The center has indoor shooting ranges from 18 to 25 meters, then outdoor ranges up to 90 meters. Other projects pending donations and grants are also in the works, like a heated room inside to aim from while using the outdoor targets during the winter.
WMAC staff said hosting adaptable clinics like this are rewarding.
“Our idea is just to promote archery to as many people as we can, especially kids with unique abilities,” said Josh Zuiderveen, WMAC secretary.
The archers teaching these newcomers Wednesday are some of the best: 1984 Olympian Archer Glenn Meyers, and the students ASL Teacher Marie Deregnaucourt, who learned from Meyers before she won the Junior U.S. Open in 2004.
It was an experience to open more doors for these students, no matter what their ability.
“Oh yeah, I really want to do it again, I’m going to ask my family so we can come as a group,” said Zavala.
WMAC is located at 3500 10 Mile Road NE in Rockford, and hosts different clinics, a Women’s Archery League, open shooting sessions, beginner classes, and events. To learn more see their website or call WMAC at 616-460-7624.