Fort Hood


Archery Ignites "Hunger" in Staff Sgt.

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Story by SFC Thomas Collins on 10/26/2017
FORT BRAGG, N.C. Archery has a mystique about it. The anticipation and excitement of nocking the arrow, the muscle quiver as the bowstring is drawn, the deliberate breathing as the arrow is let loose and feeling of accomplishment as the arrow slices through the air striking its target. One may conjure images of Robin Hood, Katniss Everdeen, or Legolas, when hearing archery or bow and arrow.
In 2014, archery's magic awakened a passion within Staff Sgt. Xuchang (Andrew) Li, civil affairs medic, 97th Civil Affairs Battalion Airborne, 95th CA Brigade (A).
His archery journey started while in the Special Operations Combat Medic Course held at Fort Bragg, N.C.
"One weekend my friend and classmate asked if I wanted to shoot some arrows," said Li, an Afghanistan veteran. "We went to the range on post. He was using his compound bow and I used an old recurve bow."
Li continued to explain that even though the bow he was using was very basic with a 35lb draw weight and with arrows that weren't the right ones for the bow, he had found his passion.
"After that first day, I just couldn't stop," proclaimed Li.
He found time to shoot after class, and it gave him something to do while his family was still at Fort Lewis.
"I bought a used bow and would shoot up to 100 arrows a day," said Li.
He even took his bow with him while deployed to Bangladesh so he could keep practicing.
"I would set up targets behind where I was staying and shoot," said Li.
After more practice, the native Chinese Mandarin speaker competed at a local club's archery tournament.
"I placed first in that competition," said Li. "It was a small event with local archers."
Even though the tournament was small, Li still has the trophy displayed in his home.
Realizing this was more than just a hobby, Li talked it over with his family and upgraded to an Olympic style recurve competition bow.
"My wife and I discussed buying a better bow and she agreed that if this is something I really want to do then I should," said Li. "After that, I started looking for competitions."
With a high operations tempo and training requirements, it was hard for Li to devote time to practice and attend competitions.
It wasn't until July that Li found a competition close enough to attend.
That competition being the 2017 U.S.A. Archery N.C. State Outdoor Championship held near Burlington.
"I thought it was great that he could take the time and spend the day with us and do something he is passionate about," said Guy Hutcherson, USA Archery state rep. "He was proud of his improvement and his groupings"
Li took the top spot at the championship in the Olympic Recurve Bow Male Senior Division.
"It's a tough division where anyone can beat anyone on any given day," said Hutcherson.
With 1st place in a state level competition under his belt, Li is looking for more opportunities to grow his skills as an archer.
"Winning the state championship for my division was great," said Li. "My coach, Allison Eaton, is helping me be more consistent."
"When I am working with Andrew, we usually are working on form," said Eaton, a coach at Wolf Ridge Archery. "We concentrate on one or two aspects at a time, such as posture, release or bow arm position."
Eaton, who also placed 22 at the 2016 World Archery Field Championships held in Dublin, also stated that they work on how to tune the bow and match the arrows to the bow so that the arrows fly straight without extra wobble.
"With my coach's help, I plan on going to Florida for the U.S. Team Trials at the World Archery Indoor Championships," said Li.
He added that in order to compete at that level will take dedicated practice and training.
"Andrew is still an intermediate archer, but he works very hard and is able to learn and correct form changes quickly," said Eaton. "Going to a national tournament is one of the best ways to see how he stacks up against the competition, watch top archer's form, and in general learn how to compete."
She continued, "It will give him great experience in competing, something one must learn by doing."
Gaining experience and learning how to compete will continue to set Li up for success as an archer.
"The final goal would be to make the U.S. Men's team and qualify for the Army's World Class Athlete Program," expressed Li.
"Andrew has tremendous enthusiasm for the sport, great self-discipline, and excellent fitness and coordination," said Eaton. "These are all necessary to rise to the top in competitive archery. He will be able to go as high as his ambition and time will allow."
-Order from Chaos-

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