A SHARP eye and a level head have taken Wheelers Hill archer James Hirth a long way from admiring sharpshooters in movies.
The Mazenod College year 10 student shot to potential stardom, winning a junior national gold medal in target archery last month.
The title has earned him automatic selection into the Australian team at the world junior archery championships in Turkey in October.
After starting competitive archery with Waverley City Archers under main coach John Galby four years ago, he has rapidly ascended to Victoria’s junior champion, winning two consecutive state age grade titles.
He said he first ”liked the look” of bows and arrows when watching movies, but since had found honing a dead eye took a lot of hard work.
At Hirth’s level, hitting anything outside of a bullseye at a range of up to 70 metres won’t do.
”I still enjoy it, but I want it to be more of a serious sport.”
He trains most days at Wellington Reserve, not far from his school, with his weapon of choice – a compound bow, which is a $1300 sophisticated multi-stringed instrument on wheels.
”Some parts you pick up easily, other parts are hard to master, like shooting consistently and shooting well at long range,” he said.
”You have to be able to stay focused and need to be fairly strong, with a steady hand. Everything has to be smooth, everything has to flow.”
Although expecting a podium finish at last month’s national titles, he was rapt to bring home gold and seal a ticket to Turkey this year.
”I’ll be happy if I can place in the top 10. The Victorian team manager thinks I can go really well. He thinks I can go top 10 easily.”
At this stage, there are no compound bow archery events at Olympic or Commonwealth Games. But Hirth has competed with the eligible recurve bow and has not ruled out the Delhi 2010 Commonwealth Games as a target.
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Arrowing in: National junior archery champ James Hirth has eyes on bigger targets. Picture: Melissa Banks