Wounded Warriors use archery to heal

Posted at 6:32 PM, Dec 16, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-16 21:32:43-05

Nearly 20 Wounded Warriors are testing their hand at archery at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista.

A local company called Millennium Health paid for the two week camp.

Retired Gunnery Sergeant Mike Rios was in the Marine Corps for 18 years.

He was in Afghanistan on his fourth combat deployment when a 45 minute firefight stripped him of who he was and what he knew.

"I heard the RPG blast, and I could see it coming at me like a football," Rios said.

He came to with his face in the dirt.

"My kneecap was almost totally out of my knee and shifted to the left," he added.

Rios said he kept firing as his friend carried him through gunfire to the helicopter.

The pain was excrutiating, but it was nothing compared to the inner agony that followed.

"I felt weak," Rios said. "Almost like my life was over."

He could no longer serve.

"I put a gun to my chest," he explained. "I was just thinking it was going to take nothing but a split second, and everything that I'm going through would be done with."

He caught a glimpse of his reflection in his TV and did not recognize himself.

"It was hard for me to see it and see myself in that light especially when I thought of myself as a standup guy," he added.

When his demons crept up on him again, he recorded himself on his iPad. Then, he watched the man he did not want to be.

He also got into adaptive sports and got good fast.

"The more I focused on the sports that I was doing, the less I focused on the outside things that were happening to me," he said.

Despite falling while hand cycling during the Warrior Games, he still landed the silver medal. 

After trying archery for the first time during the camp, his expert shooting skills made him a natural. He is already gunning for the Warrior Games in March.

"I don't have to make these videos anymore in order to realize that I have control of my life," Rios said.

He is now aiming at a target instead of his heart.