Orange Grove's Darkhorse Archery takes its name from a person who was very special to founder Justin Rokohl.
Rokohl, a U.S. Marines veteran, founded Darkhorse Archery in memory of his best friend Colton Rusk, who died Dec. 6, 2010, while fighting in the war in Afghanistan.
Rusk was a dog handler for the infantry's 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment — nicknamed Dark Horse. Now, Rokohl is making it his mission to honor Rusk's memory by giving back to other veterans.
He organizes outings in which he teaches veterans to shoot a bow and arrow, but he wants to take the service even one step further.
That's why he's raising funds to set more veterans up with bows each year. So far, over the course of seven months, he said they’ve given out 63 bows
Rokohl said the sport of archery has health benefits for veterans.
“It’s a very physical activity," he said, hitting a bulls eye with his bow. "Whether it’s a sport, or a hobby, or you’re doing it for hunting."
And while it is a physical sport, Rokohl said it gives the veterans a chance to hang out and socialize, and it’s also great for meditation .
“You can’t have anything on your mind while you are shooting your bow, or you are going to be off," he said. "So it makes you concentrate on that one thing for a little bit and its fun."
For the veterans, archery is a fun outlet that builds confidence, friendships and camaraderie.
“It gives them a little outlet where they can talk to someone who has been through some of the things they have been through, and they can get a little bit of that off their ches," he said. "(That's) what our hope is."
“It’s important to understand that, Darkhorse archery isn’t just reaching out to veterans and helping veteran’s themselves. This touches so many other people, it touches their family, it touches their children, it touches their communities," said Ivan Snegirev who was the first bow recipient.
But it doesn’t stop there — Rokohl said Darkhorse Archery has a youth program beginning this summer on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
“Kids come in and shoot bows," he said. "We teach them to shoot bows. We get them into archery competitions, or if they are just into hunting, we will help them at being better hunters."
Keeping his friend Colton's name alive through Darkhorse Archery, Rokohl said he wants to make sure this program is helping veterans.
“It gets them involved," he said. "And what I want everyone to think — every recipient we have — I want them to think Darkhorse is their program."
If you are a veteran interested in archery, or would like to nominate a veteran to receive a bow, click here.