Sports

Hughes aiming for Olympics

Lauren Hughes, 16, of Port Orchard, practices archery at the Kenmore Gun Range in Bothell. Hughes is aiming to qualify for the 2012 Olympics in London. - Jesse Beals/staff photo
Lauren Hughes, 16, of Port Orchard, practices archery at the Kenmore Gun Range in Bothell. Hughes is aiming to qualify for the 2012 Olympics in London.
— image credit: Jesse Beals/staff photo

In world of archery, 16-year-old is elite; sport has following in Bremerton, too.

The Nissan Sentra is packed three times a week to make the 80-mile drive from Silverdale to Bothell.

Wendy Hughes picks up her daughter, Lauren, on Monday, Wednesday and Friday each week and heads to the Wildlife Committee of Washington/Kenmore Shooting Range in Bothell.

The family lives in Port Orchard, but Hughes said she attends Central Kitsap High School because most of her friends went there from the private junior high they attended in Bremerton.

She said maintaining a 3.8 grade point average while taking honors courses isn’t easy with the schedule, but Hughes studies and does homework during the drive.

After all, concentration is a trait she learned from the sport. Archery requires the participant to use a bow and arrow to score points by hitting the multi-colored target in an allotted time.

The highest point total — located in the bull’s-eye — is 10 points.

Distance generally is established by age, and Hughes will shoot from 70 meters when she turns 17 in February. She now works from 60 meters.

“Archery is good because it can help you focus more,” said Hughes, who hopes to study in the medical program at Stanford University and become a surgeon or medical scientist. “It’s a mental game, so it can help you there. And hitting the 10 for the first time is a rush.”

Hughes hits that target enough that her goal is to compete in the 2012 Olympics in London. The International Olympic Committee also is organizing the first Youth Olympic Games in 2010 and Hughes hopes to compete there to see how her skills compare with others. Athletes 14 to 18 years old are eligible to compete in the games, and the IOC expects 3,500 athletes to compete in various Olympic events.

“It’s kind of a stepping stone,” Hughes said.

Mike Wichser, a volunteer coach at the Wildlife Committee of Washington/Kenmore Shooting Range who has worked with Hughes for two years, doesn’t think it’s far-fetched that Hughes could use her experience at the Youth Olympic Games to propel herself into the Olympics. Wichser was recommended to the Hugheses when they were in a tournament in Las Vegas.

“If she makes this junior world team, it would probably be right in

line,” he said. “We’ll see how she does at nationals and junior nationals.”

It seems like a distant conversation from when she was 11 and became intrigued by watching archery on TV. She asked her parents, Paul and Wendy, for a bow and they obliged by getting her one for $10 from a local retailer.

Neither thought she would pursue the sport for long. Now, Wendy has her own bow and practices with her daughter because, “I got tired of sitting back and waiting for her.”

The sport isn’t cheap to get involved in. In addition to the travel to Bothell, Hughes’ Olympic-standard recurve bow — one that has tips which curve away from the archer — costs about $2,000. Her set of 12 arrows cost close to $250.

But while expenses have increased, so have her scores.

In International Archery Federation (FITA) competitions, she scored between 1,000 to 1,100 two years ago. She now averages around 1,200 (out of 1,440). Her goal is to hit 1,300, and she just needs to be “confident and practice.”

Hughes, who competes in the female cadet — ages 15-16 — division, has won several FITA, Junior Olympic Archery Development (JOAD), Washington State Archery Association (WSAA), and National Archery Association (NAA) competitions.

“She had a lot of desire,” Wichser said. “The ones that show they have the desire and want to win, they’re the ones that do.”

Archery opportunities near Bremerton

It’s not basketball, baseball or football in terms of popularity or press, but there certainly is an archery following in and around Bremerton.

Kitsap Bow Hunters Archers (KBH), built in 1996 and located on Old Belfair Highway between Belfair and Gorst, is the closest and largest archery club.

KBH owns 34 acres of property and has permission to use additional surrounding acreage.

The clubhouse is home to a 5,000-square-foot indoor range with 18 shooting lanes. The facility includes a 28-target walk-through range and an outdoor practice range with targets out to 80 yards.

“We’ve got targets set up for competition shooters, we have indoor leagues,” said vice president Dale LeFave.

The club periodically sets up “3D” walkthrough courses, comprised of foam targets set up at varying distances, for children and archers of all skill levels to practice on.

“We’ve got quite a few kids,” LeFave said.

The 150-member club, which hosts bowhunting education classes, welcomes members of all ages and skill levels.

For more information about KBH, visit http://kbharchers.org/.

The equipment

Extreme Toys is the only store in Bremerton to sell archery equipment.

Products range from the bows and arrows themselves to releases, sights, packs and other accessories.

Charles Davis, owner of Extreme Toys, said business has been down recently with the economy in decline because archery equipment can be expensive. Bows themselves vary in price, but can cost upwards of $2,000.

“There is definitely (an archery) community,” Davis said. “But things have been a little slow with the economy.”

Extreme Toys is located at 6708 Kitsap Way in Bremerton.

— Sports writer Wesley Remmer contributed to this story.

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