Archery’s powers can heal the mind and body, which Logan Wamsley knows firsthand. Logan, 11, was diagnosed with absence epilepsy as a 6-year-old, but recently broke a national archery record in his age division.
Soon after taking up the sport, Logan’s parents noticed he was not only a skilled archer, but his seizures struck less often. Before then, he sometimes suffered up to 75 seizures in one day.
“Many medication changes and side-effect management created an anxiety issue with Logan because his epilepsy was resistant to normal treatments,” said Sheryl Wamsley, Logan’s mother. “Nothing seemed to help.”
After Logan found archery during gym class at school – on his birthday, no less – it changed his life.
“[After that class] he asked us if he could take archery lessons,” Sheryl said. “I asked some friends if anyone knew someone who taught archery. That’s when I got Frank’s (McDonough) name and number. What made me even more interested in Frank was that (he) had experience with children with special needs.”
Coach McDonough asked Logan to join the Grass Hollow Archery team in October 2017, and has coached him since. Logan practices there several times weekly. Archery’s impact on Logan’s epilepsy wasn’t instant, but his parents saw its potential.
“When Logan started archery, we knew there were still issues,” Sheryl said. “It was probably a couple of months into regular archery practice that we started to notice a difference, (including) more focus, calmness, and less anxiety when shooting and at school.”
The longer Logan practiced archery, the less often he suffered seizures. Then one day early in the school year the seizures stopped.
“I asked the doctor at the end of December about the possibility of getting rid of Logan’s medication, and she agreed,” Sheryl said.
Unfortunately, after Logan stopped taking the medication, the seizures returned, so he resumed the treatment. “I still feel archery lessened the impact of his epilepsy and seizures because he was never controlled on medication before,” Sheryl said.
The combination of archery and medication helps Logan excel and shatter records. He broke the national record in the 12-and-under male barebow division at the Lancaster Winter Warm-Up competition. His score of 419 crushed the previous record, 357.
McDonough is in awe of Logan’s barebow skills. “The fact that he’s so young and has taken to the barebow format, it shows … an inner drive to do it,” McDonough told The Republican Herald. “You have to have an understanding of how your body moves and control(s) everything you’re doing to get success.”
The Wamsleys think that focus helps control Logan’s epilepsy. He learned archery with a compound bow, and competed successfully in that division at a couple of tournaments.
Logan started shooting Olympic recurve in 2018. A few months after that switch, Logan’s father removed some parts on his bow to see how he shot barebow. Barbebow’s simplicity proved a great solution because Logan had often been hyper-focused on his bowsight. Without a sight to focus on, Logan concentrated on his body, which keeps him present and in the moment.
Logan plans to keep competing in the barebow division with the GHA team and at local tournaments. He is alsoa member of S3DA during spring and summer. His next big tournament will be the NFAA Indoor National Championship in mid-March.
“We’re trying not to have Logan burn out, so future tournaments depend on how he feels, his interest, and academics in school,” Sheryl said.
Sheryl advises archery parents to make sure their child is having fun.“If they’re having fun, the rest will fall into place,” she said. “Equally as important, if your child is receiving coaching, don’t interfere with the coach. They’re the experts.”
Sheryl acknowledges that archery’s many shooting options can be confusing. “It does get easier and the internet greatly helps,” Sheryl said. “Enjoy watching your child shoot, and always tell them that no matter how they shoot, what’s important is that your child shows self-improvement. Don’t compare them to others. I love watching my kids shoot, even on their ‘bad’ days.”
Logan said archery’s lessons translate to everyday life. “Don’t worry about not winning,” he said. “Just focus on having fun. Stay calm at tournaments, always be a good sportsman to all your fellow archers, and listen to your coaches.”
Watch for Logan at the NFAA Indoor National Championship tournament March15-17 in Cincinnati. Meanwhile, see which clubs your local archery range offers.