Local Archers Take Aim At Olympic Goals

By: Caroline Vandergriff Email
By: Caroline Vandergriff Email

The Women's Finals of the Olympic Archery competition are today in London, with one American left in the battle for gold. Five-time Olympic archer Khatuna Lorig taught actress Jennifer Lawrence how to shoot an arrow for her role in the blockbuster movie "The Hunger Games." Since the release of the film, the sport of archery has risen in popularity.

Michigan State University's Demmer Center is training future Olympic hopefuls. The center has a variety of classes for all ages, including a Junior Olympic Archery Development program.

Ashleigh Koval has only been archery shooting for just over a year, but already she's ranked 11th in the nation for her age division. She says her favorite part of the sport is simply shooting.

"Just like feeling the form and stuff," said 12-year-old Koval. "Yea, that's my favorite part. It's just fun. It just like comes to me."

Her coach says she's on track to be a member of the Junior Dream Team, a program designed to help Koval reach her ultimate goal.

"To go to the Olympics," Koval said.

Koval shoots targets 60 meters away with a recurve bow, the kind used in Olympic competition. In the Olympic competition, women aim for targets 70 meters away and men aim for targets 90 meters away. In the competition, archers normally shoot about 72 arrows for the day. The scoring rings on the target range from one to ten, and that dictates the total score.

Recurve bows don't have the wheels and pulleys you see on a compound bow. That's the type Jennifer Shelden, president of MSU's Archery Team, prefers.

"It takes a lot of practice," said Shelden. "You have to have determination. Have to be a bit of a perfectionist in order to do the same thing every shot."

Glen Bennett is MSU's archery coach, and the program coordinator Demmer archery program.

"We teach our kids to compete within yourself," said Bennett. "And try to better you score each time."

Bennett says it's important to develop mental strength, and not just shooting skills. That's what young talents like Koval are trying to develop. She says during competitions she keeps one thing in mind.

"The most important part is its fun and I just love it," she said.

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