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NEWS | April 28, 2021

Wounded Warrior Trials promote friendly competition, recovery for service members

By Jason Wilkinson 502nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

On a recent spring morning at the Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston archery range, U.S. Marine Cpl. Joseph Quintanilla drew his bow, holding tension with a broad back and shoulders more often associated with football than archery.  

Quintanilla was practicing for the archery competition in the 2021 U.S. Marine Corps Wounded Warrior Trials held at JBSA-Fort Sam Houston April 6. 

The trials take place annually and help promote recovery and rehabilitation for recovering service members. The events determine who gets sent to represent the U.S. Marine Corps in the joint-service Warrior Games.  

The trials cover several sports, many of which Quintanilla competed in, such as archery, powerlifting, shot put, discus and air gun.  

The morning of his practice, Quintanilla was unhappy with the grouping of his arrows. Steve Arnold, one of the volunteer archery coaches, helped him make some adjustments to his sighting.  

Quintanilla kept a level head, even when the arrows weren’t landing where he wanted. It wasn’t the worst thing that’s happened to him, he explained. 

While stationed at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, Quintanilla had a “little bit of a mishap.” He lost sight in his left eye and about 40% of the sight in his right eye, he said.  

“You know, I didn't think at 22 years old I would have to get cerebrospinal fluid leak surgery and a hip replacement, but it is what it is,” Quintanilla said.  

But, he continues to remain positive and push himself -- he said he views the loss of sight as an advantage in archery, as it helps him focus downrange.  

As the morning wore on, things improved -- Quintanilla was shooting more consistently, and at one point he took a photo of a tight grouping of arrows. 

When asked what lessons can be gleaned from archery, he replied, “Don’t beat yourself up too much; but at the same time, you can always do better.”  

This is a delicate balance many elite athletes would be familiar with -- but perhaps especially important to the athlete who is a recovering service member or veteran. 

“There are going to be other people at the games, but the only person you have to be worried about being better than is the person you were yesterday,” Quintanilla said.  

The Wounded Warrior Battalion has helped him with his journey to focus and grow as a person.  

As a high school student, Quintanilla was always competitive and athletic. He competed in powerlifting through the United States Powerlifting Association -- and the Wounded Warrior trials have helped him find venues to continue being competitive. They have shown him that “with a little bit of help from others, you can achieve pretty much anything you want in life.” 

“I'm glad that I'm still able to be here and do the things that I love, and find new things I love to do,” Quintanilla said.