Archery: High Wycombe teen aiming for the bullseye

Archer Jai Francis wants to represent Australia at the Olympics.
Archery: High Wycombe teen aiming for the bullseye
Archer Jai Francis wants to represent Australia at the Olympics.

TEENAGE archer Jai Francis has his eye on the ultimate bullseye having notched up a swag of medals after two years in the game.

The bowman from High Wycombe wants to represent his country just as soon as compound archery becomes an Olympic sport.

Until that time, he has other targets in his sights as he strives to master an ancient sport resurrected in popularity by films such as The Hunger Games and The Great Wall.

He will compete in the qualifying rounds for a place in the 2018 Australian Trans Tasman Youth team later this month and in November will pit his strength against the nation’s best in the Australian Nationals at Whiteman Park.

Jai (13) said he tried many sports before he found his niche.

“An aunt gave me a voucher to try archery on my 12th birthday,” he said.

“After trying a compound bow, I was hooked.”

The La Salle College student won the state and national indoor division in 2016 and set a new national record for a cub.

He later qualified for the state team and won every event competitions. Earlier this year, he won two gold medals in the 2017 Youth Nationals and was awarded best all-round male compound archer at the end of the tournament.

Other recent wins include gold in the state indoor competition and silver in the national indoor for 13 to 15 years olds.

Jai is currently ranked number one in Australia for intermediate male compound archery in the clout event and number two in field.

Hot on the heels of his medal run came a sponsorship offer from a USA archery supplier on the lookout for emerging talent and a scholarship award from his school in Middle Swan.

“I would love to see more people my age try out a sport that has changed my life,” he said.

“Archery requires the ability to stay cool under pressure, a sharp focus and stamina.”

Jai’s father Alan is following in his son’s footsteps after leaving the spectator seats to train with his son up to 11 hours a week, shooting arrows up to 50 metres in the backyard.

Mr Francis said Jai was a natural archer because he had good hand-to-eye coordination.

“In modern archery, a compound bow uses a levering system, usually of cables and pulleys, to bend the limbs,” he said.

“The pulley-cam system gives the archer a mechanical advantage and so the limbs of a compound bow are much stiffer than those of a recurve bow or longbow.”

Jai trains with Kalamunda Governor Stirling Archers in Maida Vale and has broken many club records. Most of the time Jai shoots in solo events, but he enjoys the camaraderie of competing in match play teams of mixed ability.

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