Eye for excellence

Published: June 23, 2004  |  Source: decaturdaily.com
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Decatur man 2nd in national archery contest

A second-place finish in a national archery competition would be enough to make most people brag.

But not for Decatur’s Chuck Kimball.

He apparently doesn’t wish to make any noise about his accomplishments, even if he did so as a member of the Paralyzed Veterans of America.

“He’s a very humble man, soft-spoken and courteous,” said Carl Flemons, who is also a paralyzed veteran and president of the Mid-South Chapter of the PVA in Memphis.

Kimball, 45, returned home this week after winning a medal in archery at the 24th annual National Veterans Wheelchair Games in St. Louis.

He finished second in the class II novice division of an event called archery Paraplegic with compound bow.

This was his first attempt at the Wheelchair Games, which offer competition in sports such as basketball, bowling, handcycling, nine-ball, softball, swimming and table tennis.

Kimball has been confined to a wheelchair since 1990 after falling off a roof while working a construction company. He suffered two shattered Vertebrae and a cracked spinal column.

Kimball travels to Memphis to receive treatment on his spinal column, because that is the location of Mid-South and a spinal cord injury unit.

Mid-South treats people in Alabama, Tennessee, Arkansas and Mississippi.

Kimball received encouragement from his Rehabilitation specialist in Memphis, Melissa Camburn-Cook, to go to St. Louis.

“I felt like I was winner just to get to go to the games and be able to participate,” Kimball said. “It was wonderful.”

He used a compound bow, which has pulleys set on its limbs. It is usually set at a position that’s ready to fire, to help control the shooter’s aim.

The competitors in Kimball’s class battle abdominal paralysis or poor muscle strength and have a hard time balancing themselves.

Before the games, Kimball never had much experience with archery, but he credits his success to his enjoyment of hunting.

“I love to hunt, and I love the outdoors,” said Kimball, whose front yard includes ceramic turkeys and a squirrel feeder.

The accessibility of hunting hasn’t been as easy for Kimball since his accident, but he tries to hunt occasionally.

“I go hunting when I get a little help,” Kimball said. “I can’t go to the woods by myself because a problem could arise.”

Flemons has been in a wheelchair for 24 years after a motorcycle accident and met Kimball in 1990.

Flemons, who also lives in Decatur, believes Kimball’s hunting expertise helped him finish second in St. Louis.

“If Chuck shoots at it, it’s a kill,” Kimball said. “He won’t take a shot unless it’s a kill.”

The only archery practice Kimball got for the Wheelchair Games was at Camp ASCCA in Jackson’s Gap, which is near Alexander City.

Kimball said the camp is a great place for him to shoot and was the best place for him to get archery experience.

Flemons was also impressed with the finish, considering Kimball’s limited experience in archery.

“He accomplished a lot in archery, going up against guys that were more experienced,” Flemons said.

Kimball said the trip to St. Louis was fun because it was a great place to socialize. He drove more than 400 miles to get to the Wheelchair Games.

“It’s good psychologically to get out. Whether it’s going to the store or running a marathon, you’ve got to get out,” he said.

Despite his paralysis, Kimball drives himself around town in his candy red four-wheel-drive vehicle. When it’s time to depart from his truck, he has a device that lifts his wheelchair from the back of the truck to his door.

Kimball said his stubbornness was an obstacle when he first began to live in a wheelchair.

“Everyday can be a struggle, but learning how to accept help from other people was hard,” Kimball said.

He got that help from his wife, Anita, and daughter, Marcanna.

He didn’t play sports in high school, but Kimball has enjoyed athletics since he’s been in a wheelchair and hopes to continue his athletic endeavors.

The Wheelchair Games are in Minneapolis in 2005 and Kimball would love to compete again, but he said earning enough money to go is an obstacle.

“I’m going to keep hunting, fishing and shooting,” Kimball said. “I’m going to play all the sports I can to stay in shape, keep busy and maintain a good attitude.”

By Russell Moore
DAILY Sports Writer