Archie is a very special nine-year-old boy. Coming from a family of fieldsports enthusiasts, he was always involved in country living. His dream was to shoot, but that wasn’t as straightforward as you might think.
When Archie was 20 months old, his parents Charlie and Bianca got some unexpected news. Archie was diagnosed with a degenerative eye disease, a severe retinal dystrophy. This meant that his eyesight steadily deteriorated and, after six years, disappeared completely. You would think that both father’s and son’s dream of going shooting together would remain just that… but Archie is a very brave and determined boy and the family didn’t give up that easily.
Archie is fluent in Braille, attends a normal school and is fiercely independent. He doesn’t let his lack of eyesight hold him back. He is doing so well that people he meets often don’t even realise he is blind.
The Hares are passionate about shooting, and attend a couple of family shoots near their home in North Yorkshire. Archie has joined in from a very early age and loves everything to do with shooting, the countryside and animals. His dad said: “Archie is as happy out on a day’s shooting, come rain or shine, as he is anywhere. He stands with me, constantly wanting a running commentary on what is going on in the drive; who is doing what; where the beaters are. He is there so often that he has become a regular member of the shoot.”
For his ninth birthday, all Archie wanted was his own shotgun.
So, the family went to Northallerton Shooting Supplies where he chose a .410 which his dad bought for him to use. Eager to try it out, Archie decided that he wanted a clay pigeon and air rifle shooting birthday party. He got his wish and, assisted by shooting tutor Eric Aaron, he had the most memorable birthday ever. Charlie said: “Archie showed the gun to all his friends and he then carried it in its sleeve over his shoulder at every opportunity.”
Shooting live quarry is one of a few sports where other senses, like hearing or touch, really can’t replace eyesight – it is absolutely vital. His dad said that getting Archie to shoot was a challenge: “The only way for him to experience it was for me to be his eyes. Archie did everything else himself, though, from mounting to releasing the safety catch, pulling the trigger and everything in between.” The youngster knows all about the safety aspects of shooting.
On his first game shoot last December, at the sixth drive of the day, Archie stood with his dad at peg number two. Charlie says: “Midway through the drive a hen pheasant came towards us at a perfect height. I instructed Archie to mount the gun. I was supporting him from behind, with one hand on the bottom of his barrels, so I could get the gun on the bird and look down the rib.”
When he was ready, Archie released the safety and, with constant instruction from his dad, took his first ever shot at live quarry. It was close, but slightly behind the bird. Archie didn’t give up though – together with dad, they sped up the swing and Archie took his second shot… success! The bird plummeted to the ground, dead.
“Archie asked me what happened, having felt my astonishment. I informed him of his kill… I don’t know who was more surprised, myself, Archie or rest of the onlooking Guns! Surprise instantly changed to delight – what a moment and one we will never forget,” said Charlie, with a beaming smile.
Not many other children get to shoot their first bird at the age of nine.
“It is a wonderful thing in itself for a father to see his child’s first pheasant. But our first was different from anyone else’s. To be honest, I wondered if I would ever witness it happen,” said Charlie.
Archie certainly shows us that anything is possible with the right attitude. Lack of eyesight will never stop Archie from making his dreams a reality – be it shooting, archery or surfing! He knows that his family will always be there to support him, no matter what challenge he decides to take on.
We expect that this is not the last we hear of Archie shooting – we’re sure he will continue improving and inspiring other special children to never give up their dreams.