GORHAM, Maine — More than half a dozen archers stepped to the line at a recent open shoot night at Nicely Equipped Archery. Some were preparing for the Maine Archery Association’s indoor championships this weekend. Some were brushing up on their hunting skills.
Hayden Eilinger, 15, was preparing to compete at the U.S. National Indoor Championships in Virginia later this month. His coach, Bill Duncanson, was on hand to offer advice.
“It’s a challenge,” said Duncanson, who has been an archer for nearly 30 years. “It’s something you have to continually practice and work at.”
Duncanson thinks archery informs other parts of his students’ lives as well.
“It teaches them patience,” Duncanson said.
And there’s no shortcuts to success.
“You’ve got to put the work into it, to get to where you want to be,” he said. “And it’s not easy.”
Eilinger doesn’t have much trouble sticking with it.
“It’s addictive,” he said after practicing. “You shoot your first ‘X’ and you want to shoot your next.”
Eilinger admits he sometimes has to work on keeping his concentration.
“When you’re shooting, you’re supposed to be clearing your mind,” he said. “I’m a teenager. I can’t clear my mind.”
So he thinks about the word “squeeze” to focus on the act of drawing the bowstring and arrow back before shooting.
Eilinger shoots about 120 arrows a day, seven days a week. When the weather doesn’t cooperate, he uses the loft space in a neighbor’s barn
The Maine Archery Association’s Indoor Championships are open to the public. The tournament takes place this weekend at Central Maine Archery, 213 Washington St., Auburn. For information, go to www.mainearchery.org or call 207-783-3060.