Wheelchair-bound archer knows no limits

BY BRITTNEY BENNETT
Former Reporter
01/09/2018 08:15 AM
Video Frame selected by Cherokee Phoenix
Main Cherokee Phoenix
Cherokee Nation citizen Michael Lackey is one of several shooters to compete in the Oklahoma Archery Shooters Association qualifier on Dec. 17 at Obsession Archery in Tahlequah. Unlike the other shooters, Lackey competes from a wheelchair with a compound bow that he also uses during hunting season. BRITTNEY BENNETT/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Main Cherokee Phoenix
Though Cherokee Nation citizen Michael Lackey has been paralyzed from an accident most of his life, he is an avid outdoorsman who fishes and hunts regularly. He said his decision to get into competitive archery has led to an improved aim during hunting season. BRITTNEY BENNETT/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Main Cherokee Phoenix
Cherokee Nation citizen Michael Lackey brings his children, Makayla and Hayden, pictured with a scorecard, to competitive archery shoots. His children compete in a cub class for archers 18 and under with winners taking home trophies. BRITTNEY BENNETT/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
TAHLEQUAH – When shooters took the line for an Oklahoma Archery Shooters Association qualifier recently at Obsession Archery, Cherokee Nation citizen Michael Lackey was among them despite being in a wheelchair.

“I didn’t get to play regular sports like kids that were not in a wheelchair, so my dad got me into archery and I started doing that,” Lackey said. “I’ve been shooting bows since I was about 12 or 13 years old.”

Lackey joined 64 archers competing for bragging rights and prize money at the Dec. 17 qualifier. Shooters received four minutes to shoot five arrows at a five-spot target through 12 ends, or rounds, for a total of 60 arrows. Each arrow had the potential to earn up to five points depending on its target placement.

Lackey shot with the compound bow he uses when hunting. “The compound is definitely easier from a wheelchair standpoint, in my opinion, because I shoot the recurve also and they’re a lot longer than your compounds. So a string will hit the wheel sometimes or you’re closer to the ground, so the limbs will hit the ground. The compound is definitely easier to shoot from a wheelchair.”

Although paralyzed most of his life, Lackey said he doesn’t believe in limits. He’s an avid outdoorsman who often hunts, a skill honed by competitive archery.

“It’s really helped my shooting, getting back into the target shooting,” he said. “It’s made me more consistent for hunting. I like the competition, and I like to improve myself.”

The competition marked Obsession Archery’s first time hosting a qualifier for the ASA, which aims to grow archery through clubs that provide competition, training and education opportunities.

It’s a development Lackey said he appreciates. “It’s harder on people who don’t have the funding to drive clear across the state to shoots. So it’s nice to have somewhere where we can do it here in town, in Tahlequah.”

Obsession Archery owner John Obenrader called the development a “big deal” for his business and customers. “ASA is the main organization that I shoot for. It’s one of the biggest ones in the country. It’s where all your top archers are and at the state level. They hold championships and qualifiers all across the state. They just came to me and asked me if I wanted to shoot since I have a shop with an indoor range.”

Obenrader said he hopes the competition brings in new shooters and their families to get them familiar with indoor and 3-D range shoots. “It’s pretty much a family-oriented kind of sport because a lot of times you’ll see the kids get started in it, and then mom and dad get started in it because they want to do it.”

For Lackey, the qualifier was a family affair as both his children competed in the cub class.

“My daughter Makayla, she’s been shooting for two or three years now. Hayden just got his first compound bow this year,” he said. “They’re both shooting really well. It’s good for them. It teaches them discipline, practicing. You got to be good to make a shot on a deer. You want to deer hunt, you got to practice and get good at shooting.”

In addition to passing his archery passion onto his children, Lackey hopes to see archery grow among others in wheelchairs.

“I don’t see it quite as much as I would like to see,” he said. “It’s a big challenge from sitting in a wheelchair, but I do know a lot of guys that hunt (and compete). It just takes lots of practice because I have to, I don’t have a lot of balance, so I have to kind of position myself where I can maintain my balance while I’m shooting my bow.”

For more information, call Obsession Archery at 918-951-9540.

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