Right on target

Freshman participates in competitive archery

Freshman+Cullen+Schoen+practices+daily+in+hopes+of+pursuing+a+professional+archery+career.

Photo by Bailey Vaughan

Freshman Cullen Schoen practices daily in hopes of pursuing a professional archery career.

Story by Sydney Schoen, co-editor in chief

Breathe.

30 yards… No, 35 yards.

Concentrate.

You’re only a few shots behind.

Zzzzzip!

Right on target.

While most angsty high schoolers spend their morning sleeping in or pillaging cities on GTA5, he shoots grizzly bears.

Freshman Cullen Schoen began competing in archery in 2010, where shooting foam animal targets is commonplace. Starting competitively after receiving a bow from his dad for hunting, Schoen was urged by his cousin to compete to improve his technique.

“I practiced for one week and went to my first ever competition that weekend,” Schoen said. “In that competition, my natural talent shined. I wasn’t nervous, and I made some good shots. I had about seven tough competitors. [But] I wound up getting first place in my first tournament. From then on, I knew I was a natural.”

Despite his natural talent, his first year proved to be a learning experience. Focusing more on the target, Schoen once forgot the most important part––the arrow.

“I was so concentrated, because I was a couple of shots back from the lead, that I went up there, got my yardage, pulled my bow back, and fired,” Schoen said. “But I forgot to put an arrow in there. So I dry fired, which caused my arm to get a big ‘ole deathly gouge in it. It felt like someone shot me in the arm for a minute. The strings on my bow came off. It was just a bad ordeal. I had to leave, and go back to the main area. They had a bow press thing where they had to put the wires back on. Dad’s reaction was, ‘What the heck are you doing, son?’ Everyone was in shock. I guess I was making memories.”

However, Schoen came back with a vengeance the following season, beating out the rest of the competitors in the twin cities to win Twin City Bowhunters’ Shooter of the Year. Competitive archery abides by an accumulated points system; every target you make has a designated point value. The better the shot, the better the points gained.

“I was pumped. The thrill went down the bones of my body,” Schoen said. “I did not win Shooter of the Year [in 2010] because this kid in a different part of Arkansas got more points because he shoots in higher scored competitions than I do. The win the next year was cool because it means I did that much better than him.”

Developing a systematic approach to ritualizing his wins, Schoen has dreams of competing outside the four states.

“To get [myself] in the zone, I walk up to the target, and I give it the eye, like ‘I control you,’” Schoen said. “I always wear my Team USA Archery shirt because that’s what I will be in a couple of years. My goal is to be on the Team USA Archery team. I will be able to achieve this goal by practicing regularly and [by shooting at competitions].”

Due to a growth spurt, Schoen took two seasons off to wait for a new bow. Now preparing for upcoming competitions, beginning in February, he is determined to meet his immediate goals.

“I am going to compete in any upcoming tournaments,” Schoen said. “I’ve been practicing constantly since bow season is here right now. I shoot ten minutes everyday to make sure my bow’s okay. My goals for the upcoming season would have to be to win Shooter of the Year again and [to win] at the Arkansas state tournament.”