April 23, 2008 Edition

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David Ryan practices his archery skills at Horn's Archery Shop's indoor range in Portia. Ryan recently finished fifth in his division at a national tournament in Paris, Texas.

Ryan excelling at archery

A trip to a national event at Metropolis, Ill., last year allowed David Ryan to meet Tim Gillingham, one of the best archery shooters in the world.
Gretchen Hunt

What started out as an interest quickly developed into a hobby and now is so much more for David Ryan of Walnut Ridge, who just placed fifth in his division of the Southwest Shootout in Paris, Texas.

The Walnut Ridge sixth grader, son of Terry and Regina Ryan, developed an interest in archery after attending a hunter's education church camp.

"It was fun," David said as to why he wanted to continue archery after he left the camp despite the fact that nobody else in his family was involved in the sport.

The past two years have netted him a bevy of trophies and honors.

"I really like the competition," David said. "I also like going and meeting everybody and having a good time."

David, who is 12, said he enjoys archery more than team sports because all he has to focus on are his own efforts.

"It is a different experience than team sports," his father said. "If he doesn't put out the effort, he doesn't get anything out of it."

He competes in a lot of events in Hardy and Jonesboro and has also competed at Salem and Paragould. His honors include a second-place finish in the Hoyt Arkansas 3D state championship.

The Southwest Shootout, which is one of six national tournaments sponsored by the Archery Shooters Association, was held April 4-6.

David competes in the Senior Eagle division, which is for 11-12-year-olds. His fifth-place finish was even more remarkable as the scores among the top five were very close with David finishing just six points behind the winner.

Scoring is based on where the shooter hits different animal targets, which have scoring rings. An example would be a deer with the shooter receiving five points for a hit anywhere on the body, eight points for a hit in a designated circle on the body and 12 points for a hit in an even smaller circle on the body.

Shooters were scored on 20 targets, and David recorded a total of 200 points. The winner had a 206, second place was a 203 and third and fourth tied with a 202.

"It was a very tight competition," Terry said. "After David there was quite a drop off in the scores."

Terry said he is even more proud of his son because he is competing against shooters with more experience and more connections.

"These are kids that have been doing this for years," he said of the other leaders in the competition. "The ones ahead of David ~ either their parents shoot or they're in the business. This was only David's second year to shoot, so he's come a long way."

David was also a part of the winning Pro-Am team at Paris. He received $120 in prize money, along with equipment for his bow. There were a total of 1,155 competitors at the Paris event.

This was David's second time to attend a national event. He attended an event in Metropolis, Ill., last year, which his father said was a great learning experience.

"People from all over the U.S. and other countries come to these events," Terry said. "The 'big boys' are there."

David said his most memorable moments thus far have been winning the Paris Pro-Am and meeting Tim Gillingham and spending time with him at Metropolis.

"He is one of the top archers in the world," Terry said of Gillingham. "He spent over an hour with David on the range."

The two struck up a friendship when David realized he would be playing with Gillingham in the Pro-Am at the Metropolis.

"David just walked up to him and said, 'I just wanted to introduce myself. I'm David Ryan and we're going to be playing together in the Pro-Am," Terry said. "I think he was impressed by him and the way he said 'yes sir' and 'no sir' and such."

Terry said Gillingham took David under his wing, and the two still correspond and he sends David arrows to use.

"We've been very fortunate that we've had a lot of good people help us," Terry said. "They've worked with us and given him good advice."

One such person is Tommy Smith, who has worked with David quite a bit while he is practicing at Horn's Archery in Portia.

"Tommy's been very, very helpful working with David," he said.

Another example is Richard Dorroh, who has a bow shop in Haiti, Mo.

"He was so impressed with David," Terry said. "He got Matthews Bow Company to sponsor him and helped him get a bow and other equipment at a very good price. Richard has helped him set it up and has been a tremendous influence on him."

Several companies are already helping David, who wears their logos on his shirt when he shoots. In addition, several others have asked for resumes and photos to consider adding him to their staffs.

As a staff member, he would receive equipment from the companies and would wear their logos on his shirt. In addition, he might be asked to provide feedback on new products being introduced.

"It is an honor to be selected because he would be representing their company," Terry said.

David's hopes for the future include competing in more state, regional and national events and perhaps becoming a professional shooter as an adult. He plans to return to Metropolis in June.

David said it has been a challenge for him because so many of the young people involved in the sport have grown up in "archery" families. He and his father both said those involved in the events are always very nice, though, and make them feel welcome.

"It's amazing the support that he's received from other people since he's gotten into this," Terry said.

David said he is grateful to those who have helped him reach this point. "They've been really great and have really helped," he said.

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