Young Archer Self-Coaching His Way to Success

Archer Article 1If you need expert advice on archery equipment, head to Scheel’s All Sports in Des Moines, Iowa. This is not a plug for the archery pro shop, but rather part of Bridger Deaton’s story. Whether at work or play, the 18-year-old always seems to be around bows. Even if the work takes away from his practice time, Deaton enjoys working on the different bow setups.

“I do wish I was I able to practice a little bit more, but with as many tournaments as I am going to this year versus years passed, it’s nice to get away from my tournament bow setup and work on the more typical archery and bowhunting setups most people use,” said Deaton. “It keeps me from losing my edge.”

After all, it was his passion for bowhunting that led him to become a competitive target archer. Ever since his dad bought him his first compound bow at age 5, Deaton, of Pella, Iowa, has been filling the offseason with target practice.

“In the summer, there is really nothing to hunt with a bow,” said Deaton. “I started participating in 3D-target tournaments and placed second in my very first tournament and have been shooting ever since.”

After being persuaded by friends to attend a spot target tournament, Deaton found out the format where archers shoot at circular targets, which are fixed at specific marked distances, was more to his liking.

The 2010 National Indoor Championship at Louisville, Ky., was a revealing experience for Deaton. He tied his personal best score of 58 “X’s” on day one and beat it with 59 “X’s” on day two, capturing the Young Adult Male Freestyle title. At this point of his career, it was the most pressure he felt shooting at an event, and the self-coached archer was proud of the way he handled the stress.

“For me, it was an eye-opener showing I could be halfway decent at this sport,” said Deaton. “After winning, I knew I could make the shots when it counted. It was a confidence booster and that is a huge part of archery.”

Soon after the event, Deaton proved that he could do better than “halfway decent.” Some of his archery career highlights since 2010 include two gold medals at the World Archery Youth Championships held in Poland, a gold medal in the team competition at the World Indoor Archery Championships in Las Vegas, and earning a spot on the U.S. Archery Team as a Junior Compound Archer. These are just some of the awards adorning his resume that paved the way to Deaton becoming a pro in 2012.

It didn’t take him long to seal his first victory as a pro. In February of this year, Deaton posted a 300 30x to win the men’s pro division at the Southeast Shootout.

“I was happy my first professional win came as quickly as it did and that I won in the fashion that I did,” said Deaton. “It is not many times you can say you won a tournament by shooting a 30X. That was also a high score for me. Most of my personal bests have been in tournaments and high pressure situations.”

Being self-coached is one quality Deaton credits for his success in handling the pressure, and excelling at archery.

“There’s no one I am depending on,” said Deaton. “I notice when others shoot, sometimes the first thing they do is turn around to look at their coach to see whether they are doing something right or wrong. I may shoot a round and sit there after to think about my shot. I learn more that way, and I feel it is a big advantage.”

One example showing how this advantage helped Deaton occurred recently at the Texas Shootout, USA Archery’s second USAT Qualifier Series Event of 2013. After doing poorly in the qualifying round, Deaton came out swinging in the elimination round to eventually face Rodger Willett, Jr. in the bronze medal match, but Willett was a point stronger than Deaton, locking up the bronze with a 139-138 win.

“The night after the qualifying round, I was able to think about how I shot and what was going on,” said Deaton. “I was able to correct it, and come out strong next day to make a good finish.”

Deaton hopes his knowledge-based, self-coaching style continues to serve him as he works to achieve his goals. He wants to finish this season in a position to make next year’s USA Archery’s Senior Team. In addition to this short-term goal, Deaton aims to participate in more international events where the pressure may be greater than what he is used to.

“Even though I have been shooting for 14 years, I never felt I’ve been in high-pressure situations,” said Deaton. “I definitely feel the pressure at the national and world championship events, but there’s a little more leeway in making shots at those tournaments. I need to build experience in situations where a single shot can affect my career – like if I make a certain shot I will be on the team or will win an event, and if I miss I won’t be or won’t win. I am trying to get myself in those high-pressure situations and hoping to come out on top.”

Whether or not he meets these goals is still up in the air, but one thing is for sure: A self-coached 18-year-old archer who was ushered into competitive target archery by a love of hunting and 3D-target shooting can be a major talent on the archery trail. Deaton’s story stresses the fact that anyone who wants to take up archery, can.

“Always have fun with it, is my advice,” said Deaton. “Whether you are in high school or college, treat archery like any other sport. Practice when you can and get involved with the many clubs and teams out there. I know plenty of people who do it for fun, and are excellent shots. You can take it up as a fun activity, or you can set goals around it like I do. How serious you make it is up to you.”

By: Steve Miller




Shooting with the Stars

Van Nuys, Calif. – Few people have had as big an influence on the sport of archery in America as Khatuna Lorig. Recently, the Olympic medal winner helped train the lead actress of “The Hunger Games”, Jennifer Lawrence, in proper archery techniques. As you will see, there was no better person for the job than Lorig. 

Lorig has a natural penchant for teaching. In 1995, she earned a degree in Physical Education from the Physical and Sport Institute. When not following her own strict training regimen, Lorig can be found teaching others the craft of archery. She is generous with her time, educating children in programs overseen by the Easton Foundations, coaching soldiers in the U.S. Air force as she tours bases around the world, and yes, even working with movie stars in blockbuster films like “The Hunger Games.” Lorig is one of the biggest forces promoting the sport of archery through both education and her performance as a competitor.

In the span of her archery career, Lorig has had the rare distinction of representing three different countries in the Olympic Games. Most recently, it was the United States in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. And even with the 2012 London games quickly approaching, Lorig found the time to make sure Lawrence looked the part of an authentic archer on the big screen.

Lawrence’s character in the “The Hunger Games”, Katniss Everdeen, relies on her skills of archery and hunting to try and survive the nationally televised Hunger Games – an event where the Capitol chooses one boy and one girl from each district to fight to the death.

We caught up with Khatuna Lorig and asked her what the experience of training Starlet Jennifer Lawrence was like.

Q: What were your first thoughts when you met Jennifer Lawrence?

Khatuna Lorig: We trained at Woodley Park in Van Nuys, Calif. on a beautiful, sunny day. She showed up full of life and was very outgoing. She struck me as amazingly talented for just being 20 years old. She was a lot of fun to work with.

Q: What kind of training did you do to get Lawrence ready for her role in the Hunger Games?

Khatuna Lorig: We did 10 lessons total. They each lasted for one hour a day. I started by teaching her the fundamentals and proper form. Early on in the training, we focused on not getting hurt and not moving the body when shooting. Not learning the proper techniques right from the start would only make things harder down the road, but after a few lessons, Jennifer was shooting about 100 arrows a day with an Olympic-style recurve. Her technique was great.

Q: How did Lawrence respond to the training?

Khatuna Lorig: I think she was expecting it to be easy. There is so much more to archery than meets the eye. It is really complicated and takes a lot of work. Also, training someone for a movie is different than training someone for competition. You have a small amount of time to make it look real. It has to be safe from the beginning, and all the details and small things of professional form need to be covered. It has to look good enough for the camera. Jennifer did great. She never complained once.

Q: Have you noticed that with Movies like “The Hunger Games”, “Lord of the Rings” and “Avatar” that archery is becoming more popular as a sport?

Khatuna Lorig: Yes, I am so happy for it. “The Hunger Games” is all about how good of an archer Katniss is and Jennifer will be looking great with a bow in her scenes. Archery deserves to have it. I am very happy to see it as the theme in these movies.

To learn more about the sport of archery visit www.esdf.org/discover-archery/

Interviews with Khatuna Lorig may be arranged through USA Archery, by contacting tiaconi@usarchery.org via phone at 860-904-0497

By: Steve Miller

Miranda Leek’s Arrow Points up as London Olympics Approach

Miranda Leek, an 18-year old addition to the veteran women’s U.S. Olympic Archery Team, is among the competitors leading the charge towards the 2012 Olympic Games to be held in London. There is a sense of optimism at the 2011 Pan Am Games that has been missing around the U.S. Women’s camp in past years.

A look at Leek’s development into a standout archer is one reason why hope is so robust on the road to the 2012 Olympics.

Leek was immersed in the sport at the age of 5 when her dad, Scott Leek, took her along to the archery shop, placed a recurve in her hand, gave the basic instructions and let her shoot – planting the seeds that would eventually blossom into her current standing as the second ranked woman archer in the country.

It wasn’t long before the father- daughter target shoots turned into a competitive hobby. “My dad decided to get me a compound bow, and just for something fun to do he started to take me to local competitions, which we both really enjoyed,” Leek says. “I discovered my competitive side, had lots of fun meeting others with similar interests and making friends. Things just took off from there, one step at a time.”

Leek’s transition from a compound bow to an Olympic-style recurve came at age 12. “I decided to switch for two reasons,” she says. “There would be a lot more competition in the Olympic-style recurve class than in my class of compound fingers, and the recurve was something else entirely. It looked majestic, and I was fascinated by the equipment and how people shot them.”

 Although enthralled with the charm of the recurve, change did not come without challenges. “Both my dad and I didn’t really know how to shoot a recurve. We were both compound archers and we didn’t have a solid understanding of what recurve form would look like. We only had ideas.”

Fortunately, professional archery coach Terry Wunderle and his son Vic, an Olympic archer himself, took Leek under their wings and were her first coaches. They provided the direction she needed to get started and involved in the Olympic-recurve scene.

Their efforts paid off. Leek shined in national youth competitions and was selected to the USA Archery’s Junior Dream Team in 2007, at the age of 14. Here, she was coached by Kisik Lee, who is still her coach today as the National Head Coach of the U.S. Olympic Archery Training Program.

“Coach Lee is really good at catching the little things,” Leek says. “It’s because of my relationship with him that I’ve been able to travel on junior teams and be introduced to what it’s like to compete internationally. He has been a big part of taking me to the big leagues.”

This stable of coaches has been anchored by Leek’s Father’s support and training. Scott Leek has been his daughter’s primary supporter and personal coach, from the day he first put a bow in her hand and every step of the way to where she is now. Scott, a shooter since childhood, has a firm understanding of the sport and passed that along to his daughter. “I definitely wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for his understanding of Coach Lee’s technique and his ability to teach me.” Leek says.

 But no amount of coaching can replace an individual’s drive and motivation to become an Olympic athlete. Hard work is the basis for keeping Leek’s physical and mental skills up to par.

To train, she shoots six days a week, firing over a hundred arrows each day. In addition, she hits the gym to work on cardio and core training. If this wasn’t rigorous enough, she says she looks forward to stepping up the workload in the next year.

With a strong body comes a strong mind and Leek has also focused on this aspect of the sport. “I think every archer will agree that archery is definitely more mental than it is physical,” she says. “It’s very important to remain objective and positive while shooting, and always think of what you want to happen. It’s never over until it’s absolutely done; keep fighting.”

After the Olympics Leek looks forward to beginning the college selection process and finding a school that will embrace her talents of archery and a desire to major in biology.

When the London games are in the rearview mirror, Leek hopes to brush off the dust on her compound bow and shoot some field archery and enjoy her other hobbies of playing the piano and spending time with her family, friends and dogs.

But before she starts a normal college life, Leek is focused on winning the gold medal at the London games. Her performance at the Pan Am Games takes her one step closer to that goal.

Leek broke the Pan Am Games and Star FITA record with a score of 338 in the thirty-six arrow from 70 meters event. It is another promising result for Leek and her team.

In the last year, Leek and Team U.S. garnered a team silver at the second stage of the Archery World Cup, a mixed team gold at the third stage of the Archery World Cup, a gold at the 2011 SoCal Showdown (a US Archery Team Qualifier Series Event), and a second place finish in the U.S. Olympic Team Trials – First Nomination Shoot.

There is a sense of excitement in the American camp of women archers. It is one different from the hope of past years, where teams with undeniable talent fell short in performance. A large part of this excitement comes from Leek’s arrival on the Olympic scene.


Gainesville police officer pursuing Olympic archery dream

Joshua Hinson was a former national champion with a dream of the Olympics when his aim changed from the bull’s-eye to his career as a Gainesville police officer. But Hinson has once again taken up the bow and arrow, and with it, his dream of Olympic archery competition.”My goal is the Olympics,” said Hinson, a 29-year-old with seven years at GPD. “The coaches told me I still have it. I was like, wow, maybe the Olympics are still in my future.”Like many people, Hinson shot his first arrow in summer camp. Hinson got his first bow at age 15 and improved quickly.

From age 15 to 22 he was very competitive, winning 15 state championships, setting three state records, winning a regional championship and a national championship. “Then I started getting interested in my career as a police officer, so I stopped archery for about seven years until last summer,” Hinson said. “Ididn’t quit, but I didn’t have time for it. I fell out of it.”

Hinson fell back into archery by going to the Easton Newberry Sports Complex, which opened in 2009 and is a top-of-the-line archery center complete with Olympic-level coaches. Easton manufactures archery equipment. All it took was two visits to again put Hinson on a competitive track.

“I had all of my equipment in a box — I had to blow all of the dust off it,” Hinson said. “I had to upgrade my equipment to the kind that is winning medals.”

Hinson is now competing around the country to build up his skills and his rankings. In doing so, he is also donating money to the families of officers who have died while on duty. Whenever Hinson makes an X bull’s-eye — the innermost ring — at a tournament this year, he will donate $1 to Concerns of Police Survivors. It’s a national nonprofit organization that provides free services to the families of fallen officers.

In his first tournament this year he hit 63 X bull’s-eyes and got 10 others to match his pledge of $1 each. “I’m a Christian and I really feel that everything I do should be helping somebody else,” he said. “Being a police officer, I have lost a co-worker in the line of duty and almost lost two others — two very close friends.”

Archery requires extreme mental concentration along with skill to be a top competitor, Hinson said, adding that the pressure can be intense. But at a recreational level, archery is a sport that anyone can play.

“It’s great because anybody can do it. You can be old, overweight, underweight — as long as you can put the arrow on the string, pull it back and let it go,” he said.

By Cindy Swirko, Staff Writer at Gainesville Sun

Contact Cindy Swirko at 374-5024 or swirkoc@gvillesun.com

Kacey Eggers – From Passion to Profession – One Freshman’s Quest

Finding friends and selecting a major are daunting tasks for any college freshman, but Kacey Eggers, a freshman at Wayne State College in Nebraska, already knew her calling, and with a little effort, she quickly found others that shared an enthusiasm for her sport.

Eggers, a competitive archer and member of Easton’s, Dakota Archery’s, Hoyt’s and TruBall’s shooting staffs, created the Wayne State College Archery Club with the hopes of building friendships with other students who had a zeal for archery.

“Archery is no a well-known sport, “Eggers says.  “I started the club because I wanted those at our campus to know more about archery, and I wanted to find out if any of the other students had a passion for the sport like I do.”

Once Eggers got permission from the student senate to start the club, she invited those who expressed interest to join.  She even set up a booth in the student center encouraging students to test their archery skills.

Her efforts paid off.  The club’s 25 members practice together once a week and hold meetings every two weeks.  Many of them shoot on a competitive level, including Eggers.

Eggers enjoys competing in archery tournaments for the opportunity to make new friends and socialize with other like-minded athletes.

“The other competitors are so nice”, Eggers says.  “You feel welcome even if you’re not the best shooter out there.”

Eggers may not be the best shooter yet, but she’s on her way.  She’s competed on national and regional levels, and in 2008 she came in 3rd place in the National Field Archery Association’s (NFAA) Indoor Nationals.  She’s also placed 1st numerous times in the NFAA 3D Young Adult Female Freestyle division, and last year she won the Adult Freestyle division.

“I plan on shooting in the U S Collegiate Archery (USCA) Indoor Nationals, the USCA North Outdoor Regionals and Northern Outdoor Nationals,” Eggers says.

Eggers, who’s also the recipient of a $1,500 archery scholarship from the Easton and NFAA Foundations, says her family instilled within her the love of archery as a young child.

“Everyone in my family participates in archery, “Eggers says.  “My father began teaching me how to shoot when I was 7 years old.  I instantly fell in love with the sport and started shooting competitively when I was 9 or 10.”

Although she’s already accomplished much for young age, she’s set her sights even higher.  She hopes to make the All American USCA team, the USCA All Academic team and the All Region USCA team.  She’s also working toward making the World University Games team, which represents the US in the World University Games in Spain in 2012.

Although she’s currently focused on her immediate goals, Eggers plans on keeping archery a part of her life for many years to come.

“Going professional is an option,” Eggers says.  “I’d like to make some more pro staff and work in the outdoor industry. I’m working toward a degree in public accounting with a minor in sports management, so I may try to work in one of those fields for an outdoor sports company.”

Whatever path she decides to take Eggers wants to keep archery and the outdoors a center focus in her life.

“I just love archery because you can go out and do it any time,” Eggers says.  “It’s unlike so many sports that you’re limited to playing while you’re young.  You can begin archery as a child and enjoy it until the day you die.”

Lauren Clamon – Sports Illustrated Kids – SportsKid of the Month

Lauren Clamon, 13, of Chula Vista, CA has been chosen as the SportsKid of the Month in the March 2011 issue of Sports Illustrated Kids.

Since picking up a bow and arrow less than three years ago at a county fair, Lauren Clamon has become a 2010 national champion, California State Games winner, and California state archery champ in the 14-and-under recurve category.

A scan of the article is below.