By John Lee
When you think of archery, Katniss Everdeen may come to mind, but junior Isaac Han proves there’s more to it.
At last year’s Junior Olympic Archery Development Tournament, Han was ranked 27th in the nation. He trains with the Joy Lee Archery Academy, one of the most well-known clubs in America. In fact, this academy is led by Kisik Lee, head coach of the United States Olympic archery team. Han is working with the best, and the accuracy with which he shoots definitely shows it. He dreams of being a part of the U.S. Olympic archery team in the future.
“When I was younger, I always wanted to try archery. I came in with a lot of expectations about what it would be like, after seeing movie characters like Robin Hood and Katniss Everdeen. But my first impression was that all of these movies are actually wrong,” Han said.
As it turns out, archery does not involve running around in the woods, hanging from trees, or riding on horseback as you shoot arrows from a beautifully crafted bow. In fact, archery can be astoundingly simple.
“Archery is a standstill sport. It’s all about concentration, focus, and patience. And it’s also a lot about self-refinement. I practice almost every day for a couple of hours, and there are always those days when I’m just not shooting well. Archery has taught me to control that, to control my frustration. It’s a sport where you learn to compete against yourself, not others,” Han said.
Han applies these same lessons to his everyday life. For instance, he notices that he is not easily angered in tough situations. Instead, he tends to stay calm and has actually developed an ability to analyze difficult situations better. Thus, he can quickly recognize problems and solve them as effectively as possible. This is evident just from looking at him. Han has a composed aura that highlights the concentration he puts into almost everything around him.
But according to Han, other than a mental test of endurance, archery also pushes the body to its physical limits.
“A lot of people think that archery isn’t a physical sport. But I think it’s pretty obvious how physical it is when I ask my friends to hold my bow for me, and they end up almost dropping it because it’s too heavy,” Han said humorously. “Archery is all about perseverance and composure, even physically, so it definitely helps to be in shape.”
Consistency is key, as Han says. When he’s shooting, the biggest challenge is to monitor himself with an eagle’s eye. Even the smallest tweak in his form or technique can lead to radically different results. It seems there’s almost a mechanical science to the sport that definitely contrasts the free-spirited action portrayed by the media.
And finally, the question that Han is most often asked about archery as a sport: “Can you kill someone?”
“Yes. The arrow travels at about 120 miles per hour, and the tips are very sharp. You would not want to be standing next to the targets while we’re practicing.”
So maybe Han’s skills aren’t as exciting as those of Katniss in The Hunger Games, but he makes it clear that there’s more to archery than just what we see in books or movies.
After all, Han may be a master of staying calm, but if you insult his sport, just remember that he will always be on target with his rebuttal.