Ashley Lundvall was paralyzed in 1999. Today, Lundvall is a motivational speaker who has won countless awards in honor of her contributions. She is very involved with the wheelchair using community and is an avid outdoor enthusiast and activist.
- How has archery empowered you as a woman and as a wheelchair user?
I feel powerful when I shoot my bow. As a wheelchair user, I remember early days after my accident when all I heard was what I couldn’t do. From the outside, archery looks like another activity that would be beyond my abilities, but I’m so glad I took a risk and tried it. I had to learn about positioning in my chair, using different back muscles, and working on my core strength and balance. Not only is archery fun, but it’s also a great workout!
- When you’re not shooting, what else do you like to do?
I live on a farm in Wyoming with my husband, daughter, horses, goats, chickens, dogs and a cat, so I am constantly outside! I like to challenge myself with new projects, and I hate being bored, so I am constantly on the go and learning new things.
- What’s your relationship with the great outdoors. What is this relationship like when you hunt?
There is definitely a spiritual side to archery when you are hunting. Hunting is about life, but most people focus on the death. When I harvest an animal, it is in order to feed my family, and that sacrifice brings sustained life. Conservation is also about giving life. Too many animals on the landscape can be detrimental to their species, other species, and habitat. Hunting is a way to manage those numbers in order to maintain a healthy environment for all. And the animal isn’t wasted- it is used to bring about more life. I think that’s a beautiful thing to be a part of.
- Do you feel you’ve ever been treated differently in any way because you are a female or is this sport more gender-neutral? Do more females need to get involved?
My first experience with a bow was frustrating, because it belonged to my husband and wasn’t set up for me. Now that more women are involved in archery, companies are marketing towards their female consumers. Equipment is available that is created with a female body in mind. I love seeing women, especially young girls, becoming more interested in archery. It’s not only a great option for hunting, but it opens the door for a competitive sport and a fun leisure activity. There’s something very calming and focusing about going outside and shooting through a quiver of arrows.
- What’s your choice gear and adaptions?
This is my hunting bow setup.
- Some people, even those that eat meat every day, don’t understand why people go out hunting. They may say it’s inhumane. What can you say to them to help them understand your point of view?
I understand that point of view because I used to share it! My outdoor journey has taught me a lot over the years about being connected to my food. I was happily oblivious for many years about where my meat came from and how that animal was born, raised, processed, etc. I love to feed people, and knowing that I can provide friends and family with a protein source that has only been touched by my hands is everything. If they are still interested, I go on to tell them about how hunting is conservation, the meat can be shared as donations to local food banks, sourcing your food from the wild is much healthier and a lot more fun that going to the grocery store!
- When shooting game for a while in the woods, and nature calls, how do you go to the bathroom or is the hunt over?
As with most people living with a disability, it’s all in the planning! I always carry my cathing equipment in my hunting pack, and I usually follow the “what goes in must come out” method. I drink a bottled water, and then I use it when nature calls. Depending on who I am hunting with, privacy can be an issue, but everyone uses the bathroom, so I can usually just head off behind some bushes to take care of business. As a woman, getting situated in a chair for the optimal catheterization success is usually the hardest part. I’ve gotten pretty creative over the years, from propping my legs on fence rails to using a tree branch for support. I am actually considering a bladder surgery for this very reason. I have a lot of friends, guys and gals, who urinate through a stoma on their stomachs. This would make life in general, but specifically my outdoor adventures, infinitely more simple.
- If you created a slogan for your archery, what would it be?
I’m horrible at slogans! 😊 Probably something about pushing (what I’m used to in my chair) vs pulling (just for archery).
- Any encouraging words for kids and adults interested in archery?
You gotta try it! Archery can be an intimidating sport to jump into, but it’s also a very welcoming sport. Find a local bow shop and look for groups in your area that cater to a specific age/gender group for classes. The initial setup is the hardest part. Once you have your equipment, it’s all about repetition and practice. That’s when the fun begins!