Disability doesn’t stop Hess from hitting a bullseye

By From page B1 | December 15, 2013

Despite how it may seem in popular culture, there is a lot more to archery than just aim and fire.

“Every young kid these days wants to be Katniss Everdeen from ‘The Hunger Games,’ ” says Davis resident D’arce Hess. “But there’s a lot more to it.”

Competing for Team USA, Hess was an alternate at the London Paralympics last summer, and captured a bronze medal at the 2011 Para Pan-American Games.

Hess is disabled due to her spina bifida, a condition that occurs when the spinal cord does not form properly. However, though she is considered disabled, Hess often competes alongside some of the world’s top archers in competitions.

At her most recent competition, the World Archery Para Championships last month in Bangkok, Thailand, Hess’ three-person team won a silver medal in the compound women’s category.

At that event, Hess and her American teammates shot compound bows — modern bows that use a levering system — at an 80-centimeter target from 50 meters away.

The face of the target looks like a classic bullseye, with 10 rings. Each pair of two rings is one color, with each color awarding an archer a different amount of points when it is hit. The point values range from 10 (bullseye) down to one.

Each team of three archers fires 144 arrows at the target, and the trio with the higher score wins the head-to-head match.

In Bangkok, Hess and teammates Martha Chavez (from Lemoore) and Ashlee Sheppard (San Francisco) narrowly dropped a final matchup, 214-197, to the defending champion Russian squad.

Hess credits her straight shooting to good coaching and a ton of practice:

“I have been very fortunate to be able to work with national team coaches for the past three years, and it has really helped me.”

In fact, the toughest obstacle Hess faces isn’t getting her arrow to stick in the middle of the target, it’s raising the funds she needs to travel to events.

“At many of the big tournaments, travel costs can get expensive, so my biggest challenge has been financial,” Hess explains.

Outside of the range, Hess is a software developer, or in her words, “a computer geek for a living.” The well-rounded  archer graduated from college with a major in music and enjoys playing the clarinet, harp and tuba.

Dylan Lee

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