Former soldiers aim to combat PTSD with new bow organization
Published 1:09 am Tuesday, March 26, 2019
Florala’s Caleb Cole has combined his passions for archery and the military to start his very own organization, Bows For Veterans.
Cole’s vision for the idea began in Baghdad, when he met his co-founder, Adam Presley.
“The idea has been in the works for about four months, because we have been waiting on the IRS to approve our tax exemption status,” Cole said. “Adam and I worked in private security in Baghdad, Iraq, at the embassy. So we do a lot of private security for diplomats and things like that, so we were waiting for the guys that we were providing security for to get out of a meeting, and believe it or not, the name actually came first before the idea.”
With both of the guys being military grunts and still working with veterans, they wanted to make a difference with what they were passionate about, archery.
“We now continue to work alongside veterans,” Cole said. “Everybody that I mention archery related things to, they always say that that looks really interesting or that they would love to try it, but they have never had the means or the know how to even start.”
Cole got into archery early on when his father taught him how to shoot a bow.
“My dad told me a long time ago that if he ever got me into archery, it is over for me. He said, ‘As much as you love hunting, shooting and as competitive as you are, if I ever get you into archery it’s over.’ So, I got into archery.
“With archery being one of my strongest passions and obviously I am very supportive of our military, let’s try and put the two together. I think the one key thing to success in an organization is believing in your cause, because if you don’t believe it, then how are you going to get everybody else to believe it?”
The organization’s main goal is to introduce veterans to the world of archery, from the convenience of their own home.
“Not all bows are the same,” Cole said. “People think that they can just buy a bow and then shoot it, that is not the case. So when we say convenience of their own home, what that means is that since I am a bow tech, I’ve got a bow prep, I’ve got everything at my house that I need to take a bow apart, put it back together, and tune it, we want to provide veterans with their own bow. I would drive to their house, unpack it for them, fix it up, set it up to their draw lengths, give them some arrows and a block target and essentially give them a fundamentals class in their backyard. That way, they can build a foundation on their own with all of the tools that we have provided to them.”
Cole said that the program can be compared to Navy Seal Chris Kyle’s program of taking veterans to shooting ranges, when it comes to battling post traumatic stress disorder.
“Myself and Adam are both ex infantry, or ex grunts,” Cole said. “Grunts like to shoot and have a good time at the range. When anyone in the military gets out to the range and they are having a good time shooting, they forget about everything bad going on in their world at that moment. Everybody is laughing and having a good time. They don’t focus on what is bad in their life. But the problem is, not everybody has access to a range when they are home. They also don’t have the money to maybe pay for the range fees or ammunition. With my program, we are able to give veterans the same benefits of shooting, without having to go outside the city limits. They can literally do it in their backyard.”
Cole said that he has thought a lot about why he wants to help veterans and he always comes back to keeping America great.
“If people don’t join the military, then there will be a draft and I don’t think people understand that,” Cole said. “Believe it or not, but grunts, or people that join the infantry, join the military because that is what they want to do. I joined the military because I knew that I wanted to be a grunt, but without people like that, then we are not going to be the great America that we have always been.”
Cole said his ultimate goal is to have someone who trained in his organization beat him at an archery competition.
Cole served as an Infantryman for the United States Marine Corps from 2010 to 2014. While serving, he did two tours to Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom.
Presley served six years as an Infantryman with the 82nd Airborne Division of the United States Army, two of which were deployments to Afghanistan. Presley grew up in a small town in Georgia, where the love of hunting, firearms and the great outdoors run deep in his family.
Both now work as private security contractors in the Middle East.
Their new organization has partnered with Fletcher’s Outdoors in Andalusia to hold a raffle ticket drawing for a 2019 Mathews Vertix Bow. Tickets are $20 each and 100 percent of the proceeds go to the Bows for Veterans organization.