Not many 11-year olds can say they’re a two-time defending Canadian champion.
However, Quesnel’s Michael Wright can say that and by all accounts he accomplished the feat handily.
After four rounds with a variety of 20 moulded animal targets each, at the national 3D archery championships in Regina, Sask., Michael finished 96 points ahead of his nearest competitor in the pre-cub compound bow category. This means he could have stopped shooting with eight targets to go in the final round and still won his second national 3D archery title.
The wide margin of victory is not a result of easy courses, but rather a sign of Michael’s skill.
As a pre-cub, Michael sometimes shoots closer to the targets than the older competitors, but nonetheless he still has to hit the targets.
With a prairie wind blowing, Michael learned quickly missing a target was a possibility.
At the second target of his first round, Michael did just that, he completely missed the target.
“Second target at the nationals and you miss, that doesn’t feel too good,” Michael said to explain what was going through his mind as he walked towards the stake for the third target.
“OK, don’t do that again,” Michael said was the message he gave himself.
Accustomed to shooting at an elite level, Michael did recover before he stepped up to shoot at the third target.
On the second day of competition, on the hardest course of the four courses, with the wind blowing 30 kph, Michael showed he had fully recovered from the miss in the first round of competition.
He fired a 196 out of a possible 220, to post the second highest score of all competitors at the national championships on the D-course.
“That was the toughest course of the four,” mom Samantha Wright said of the D-course.
For the third and fourth rounds Michael fired a 202 and a 185.
The 202 was the second highest score of the competition among all competitors at the national championships.
“That was impressive,” Samantha said of the round.
The score of 185 was also impressive, but also a reminder Michael is only 11-years old.
Heading to the course, Michael took a peek at the leaderboard and saw he was ahead by a wide margin.
With a shake of the head, he admits taking a peek may not have been the best strategy.
“I lost focus too much,” Michael admitted.
He may have lost focus, but he still won by a wide margin and like any true competitor, that doesn’t sit well with him.
“I don’t want to be winning by that much, I want some competition,” Michael said earnestly.
“I think next year I might shoot in the cub category instead.
“It’s no fun winning by that much.”
But there are things about 3D archery that are still fun for Michael, including traveling to new places as well as facing a difficult target placement.
“I enjoy the challenging targets,” Michael said.
Another fun part about national competitions, Michael said, is hanging out with friends he only sees at national and provincial competitions and the opportunity to meet new people and make new friends, like Lucas Landrie from Saskatchewan for example.
Lucas, who finished second behind Michael, could have finished first had he not showed true sportsmanship.
Hours before the results were to be announced Lucas told Michael his fourth-round score had not been entered on the leaderboard.
Without a fourth-round score Michael was in second place behind Lucas.
The pair found a Team BC official and went to the organizers tent to remedy the situation.
Michael’s scorecard had been misplaced under an official’s laptop.
Landrie could have finished first if Michael’s fourth round had not been posted.
“That was really nice of him,” Michael said.
With the second national championship under his belt, Michael has turned his attention to other activities besides spending time at the Lazy Days campground on 10 Mile Lake.
“My main focus now is hunting and fishing,” Michael said of his short-term plans.
But after that he will begin practicing indoors with paper targets.
“It’s a good way to practice my form,” Michael said.
“And I miss shooting with my buddies.”