Honoring Our Veterans: Babette Peyton, Gold Medalist Archer

Honoring Our Veterans: Babette Peyton, Gold Medalist Archer

(Image: Babette Peyton)

At last year’s Golf & Tennis Challenge, Black Enterprise introduced the game of archery into the fold.

BlackEnterprise.com sat down for a one-on-one with acclaimed archer Babette Peyton, a charismatic, gold medal toting, service-disabled veteran, who spoke of overcoming obstacles and striving to win, no matter the circumstance.

BlackEnterprise.com: When did you acquire a passion for archery?
Peyton: It all started when I attended a military Paralympic sports camp. To be able to attend you had to participate in every sport. For example, they had field sports, they had javelin, they had discus, they had shotput, they had it all. At the camp, the covenant that they made us sign was that we would participate in any and all sports that they had, because they could help us to do it. It didn’t matter your disability.

So I had to do archery, although I wasn’t too happy about that. With the rest of the activities I did my best to try; this one I met with resistance. This guy ended up helping me. He went into his bag and pulled out some leather, cut it, put it on the string, and told me I had my right hand–that was my good hand–[and] I could hold the bow. The bow was about two pounds. He asked me if I had any dentures, I said no. He said ‘Good, because you see this little thing I put on here? You’re going [to] grab that with your teeth and pull the string back. Look at that bullseye and, when you’re ready, just let it go. Don’t worry about where it hits.’

The first two shots I hit were bullseyes. The second shot was almost a Robin Hood. It was so close.

Did your military training offer any advantage to you as an archer?
When I went to the military, I qualified [as an] expert on a M16 white 200, and I also qualified [as an] expert on a 45 pistol. I had those designations. I know how to move around, I know how to move out. As a woman soldier, I dealt with a lot of adversity so that prepared me to deal with this type of situation. I always said my prayers while I was in the military. I always had my faith.

What, or who, is your primary motivator?

My primary motivator would be my covenant with God, because I asked Him, ‘What can I do to make a difference?’ I’m a national gold medalist archer; my highest score is 299 over 300. I shoot from my wheelchair with my mouth — it gives new meaning to shooting your mouth off. I once lived in a nursing home. I was headed to a hospice and I was pulled out of there by the military and the VA and friends, and taken to a facility, where they said I had to do everything, I just had to do it.

I found something that I could do and it changed my life. I decided I didn’t have to live in a nursing home. I could live somewhere where people could come to help me. I did not have to go to a hospice. I still had hopes and dreams. Don’t give up on life–just remember there’s always somebody that can help. Think about utilizing sports, even if you have never done it before. It doesn’t have to be archery. I scuba dive, I horseback ride, I golf, I play tennis, I sail, I kayak, I do fencing–there are so many things I never did even when I was able-bodied, and now there are people helping me do it. Once you see what you can do as an athlete, it opens your mind to say, ‘Hey, I do have the ability, but I have to do things differently.’

I think I can help people out there. I feel that archery is the one thing that God has in line for me, but I know He wants me to get out there and share my story to encourage other people; especially veterans, and anybody that’s disabled, and women too.

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