By Cam Lucadou-Wells
The first challenge for Upper Beaconsfield archer Shaylen was to make it to national titles.
The prodigiously talented nine-year-old more than held her own against much more mature archers in the 13-and-under division of the 3D Archery Association of Australia titles in northern NSW on 9 November.
The Berwick Primary School student finished first overall in the national series, third in the indoor comp and fourth in the two-day national shoot.
As the youngest in the field, Shaylen also took out the young achiever of the year.
A week out from the titles, her proud mother Tiarnee Lowe pleaded for community support in a crowdfunding campaign to fund Shaylen’s interstate trip.
The family had been hit by massive vet bills for their horse.
But within days, more than $1000 was pledged by online donors.
“She’s so happy with herself,” Ms Lowe said.
“She’s already got the notepad out planning for next year.”
Shaylen’s talent was obvious from the first time she lifted an archery bow at age 5.
She’ll take a look through binoculars at a target about 40 metres or so away, then mentally estimates the range -without any sights – and hit the bullseye.
“Everyone says she shoots on instinct.
She’s a natural – she doesn’t use technology, she just shoots it.”
Every Sunday, she trains for hours at Diamond Valley archery club in Yarrambat under the watch of coach Cordell McGuire.
The long drive and hours of training are worth it, says her mother.
“I’ll keep supporting her if we can,” Ms Lowe said.
“She just loves it.”