Remember the nights staying up, hiding under the covers with a flashlight just to finish another chapter of “Hunger Games?” We would read for hours upon hours about Katniss Everdeen, wishing to be able to use a bow and arrow just like her. We all were inspired to start archery after reading “Hunger Games,” but junior Richelle Shim took this inspiration to become part of the 2021 U.S. Archery Team.
Shim began by joining the HSS Sports Academy at 13 years old, owned by 1984 LA Olympic Gold Medalist Hyang-Soon Seo, in seventh grade. She quickly found the sport to be much more difficult than expected.
“When I first started, I was bad at archery,” Shim said. “For months, I missed the target and I wanted to quit cause I felt like I had no talent. But then I bought the bow.”
Archery is not a cheap hobby to pick up, costing hundreds of dollars just to purchase a bow and a set of arrows. Shim knew she needed to commit to the sport.
“I really want to succeed in the sport because it’s an opportunity for me to start something new and to excel in that area,” Shim said. “I felt like I didn’t have any excuses to not succeed.”
With a newfound commitment to the sport, Shim spent her summers shooting ranges in Irvine and Fountain Valley any chance she got, practicing for about six hours on weekdays and eight to 12 hours on weekends during the school year.
“At first, I didn’t think that I was improving, but over time, I could tell I was improving because I put so much time into the sport,” Shim said.
Shim started competing in state competitions in Chula Vista, California and across the United States, using each state competitions as practice for the one competition to qualify for nationals and obtain a national ranking.
“There’s one competition that everybody has to go to to be eligible for a national ranking,” Shim said. “It’s the biggest competition of the season and the first time I went I got third place.”
Shim spent the next few years in these competitions to qualify for nationals, eventually joining the national team for 2021. Throughout this time, Shim became part of the tight-knit community archery fostered.
With the bow and arrow in hand, Shim has joined a community of like-minded individuals on the road to perfection in their craft.