Photo provided by Simon family
A great shot
SAYVILLE—Recently, a Sayville High School graduate earned the honor of being the National Outdoor Collegiate Champion in the field of archery at the U.S. National Outdoor Collegiate Championships Open in Chula Vista, Calif. Elliot Simon – a member of Sayville’s Class of 2013, who just graduated from the University of Connecticut – took some time to recap his stellar victory and how his continued dedication to the sport of archery has shaped his life.
Simon noted that he first started using bows and arrows as a 7-year-old in Camp Baiting Hollow at a Boy Scout camp. He later joined Boy Scout Troop 270 in Patchogue and earned his Eagle Scout rank in 2013.
“I always found myself down at the range more often than not,” said Simon. “The guy who ran the range was really involved with Olympic archery, and was on the national team back in the ’80s. He worked with me, and it kind of grew from there.”
Simon first began seriously competing in the sport in eighth grade and shot in his first national tournament during the summer before high school. From there, he continued to compete while developing a rigorous, dedicated practice schedule that has contributed to his sustained success while traveling both nationally and internationally for competitions.
“When I was in high school, I would shoot 150 to 200 arrows per day, six days a week,” said Simon, who noted that when at full draw with his bow, his fingers are holding back around 42 pounds of pressure. “It’s one of those sports where you really get out what you put in. If you want to succeed, you really have to put in the time to train physically and mentally.”
When it comes time to shoot in a competition, Simon said that the best way to manage the pressure is to simply let your body and instincts take over without getting fazed by mishaps or hiccups.
“If you make a mistake, you have to be able to recover really quickly, figure out what went wrong and how you can improve on the next shot,” he said.
Simon also explained the technical motions of archery, which he compared to golf and have very much to do with posture and composure.
“It’s very technical and involves biomechanics,” he said. “You have to make sure your body is in the right alignment and that your stance and posture is in the right spot and upright. When you shoot, it’s a very fluid, technical motion – almost like a dance.”
While reflecting on his most recent victory in Chula Vista, Simon remarked that it was a proper conclusion to his collegiate tenure.
“It’s hard to say if it was my most-prized tournament win, but it’s definitely the best way I could’ve ended my collegiate shooting career,” he said. “I wasn’t able to practice as much in college as in high school, but I was still able to shoot pretty well and win some tournaments.”
Looking ahead, the athlete said that he wants to continue with archery and see how far he can make it. His ultimate dream is to earn a spot on the U.S. Olympic team.
“This is something I’ve been dreaming about for a good part of my life, and I think it would be really something special to make an Olympic team,” said Simon, whose college major is actuarial science. “Now that I’ve graduated and had school as a priority for the past years, I really want to try to make a run for the 2020 Olympic team in Tokyo.”
Despite all of his years of experience in tournaments, Simon said that nothing compares to the feeling of being in a championship match.
“It’s crazy because I’ve been fortunate enough to shoot pretty well at tournaments and gold medal matches,” he said. “But it doesn’t matter how many tournaments you’ve shot at. There’s nothing that equates to that adrenaline rush when you’re in a gold medal match. I’ve been shooting for close to eight years now, and was just as nervous at my last match as always. It’s definitely an exhilarating feeling.”
Simon also took a moment to thank the friends and family members who have supported him thus far.
“I couldn’t have done this without the support of my friends, family and girlfriend,” said Simon. “They helped me stay consistent. Archery is one of those sports where you really get what you put into it. I know even when I take two days off, I feel a huge difference.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to practice a sport I really love, and I’ve been able to work as hard as I can to achieve success,” he added. “Just like anything else in life, if you put in the hard work and feel you’re at your best, nothing can tell you otherwise.”
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