ABILENE, Texas — For three years now, thanks to a Veterans Center in Abilene, Texas a Bow Hunter’s Association has been given the opportunity to help our country’s Military Combat Veterans.

A fun competition to not only measure the vets’ archery skills but also to cope with the post-traumatic stress that often goes with protecting our country.

“Just being in nature is an awesome feeling when you can just embrace it,” says U.S. Army Veteran Daniel Winegeart.

The great outdoors paired with an eye for the target. Friday marked the 3rd annual “Foam is Our Friend” archery match for Abilene-area veterans. A nice break from reality mixed with some friendly competition.

“All the branches of service are out here so we’re always competing no matter what,” says U.S. Marine Corps Veteran Manny Rios.

“It doesn’t matter what year you served or what era, or what conflict or war you can still make connections with each other,” says U.S. Air Force Veteran Bill Guidera.

Aside from the competition archery has given these military vets another shot at coping with PTSD following their time while serving our country.

“The VA Clinic has given me a different platform to help settle all of the noise in my head,” Rios said.

“Everything disappears in life. You’re just in the moment right then and there and so for me the hands-on archery being able to be out here that’s basically what it is for me,” says Winegeart.

For U.S. Army Veteran Daniel Winegeart, he battles with PTSD due to his experiences while on deployment overseas. Sudden noises and gunfire remind him of that time. Having gone through many types of treatment Winegeart explains how using a compound bow vs a firearm is beneficial for him.

“The only loud thing that you might hear is when the arrow hits the target. Other than that I mean it’s quiet, so you don’t have to worry about the stress and anxiety of rounds or anything like that going off,” says Winegeart.

For Marine Veteran Manny Rios who recently retired after almost 24 years says it’s this archery program that’s given him a new lease on life.

“There’s no telling where I would be and they’ve opened up the door and they’ve made it possible for someone like me that didn’t like talking to people, didn’t like opening up. They made it possible for me to do that. I’m not so angry. I’m not so irritated as much. I’m not about to lose it on you know certain situations,” says Rios.

Using friendly competition Veterans will come together through Archery to shoot foam targets. For some, it helps just being in the woods to deliver a calming state of mind. For others using the bow is quieter than shooting a gun to avoid reactions from loud noises. Archery makes the perfect blend for many.

The “Foam is Our Friend” competition brings all branches of the military together to see who the best is, but most importantly it’s about making connections with each other.