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Teen keeps eye on the target

Barlow student Jake Ingram sets sights on archery excellence -

OUTLOOK PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - Jake Ingram, a sophomore at Barlow High School, is the best youth Men's Bow Hunter Freestyle archer in the state of Oregon. Jake Ingram did not take up archery until he was 13 years old.

Last year — at 14 — he was crowned the best bow shooter in Oregon and the top bow archer in a five-state regional competition.

“Not only did he win it, he set a state record,” said Jeff Ingram, Jake’s proud papa.

Now the young champion is gearing up for this year’s round of competitions, which begins this month. So why archery and not film, cross country or rock ‘n’ roll?

“I like it,” Jake says simply. “I’ve got a knack for it. I’m good at it. And it is all about technique.”

Jeff describes his son as a “self-motivated kind of guy.”

In fact, Jake didn’t learn archery at his dad’s knee.

“I don’t shoot. I’ve never hunted with a bow,” said Jeff, a Gresham firefighter. “He just got interested in it and decided he wanted to save up the money and buy a (bow) set up.”

Jake, who first got interested through his uncle who bow hunts, said his first bow was a basic $300 model. As he practiced and learned about the sport, largely from the internet and YouTube videos, he decided to save up and buy a better — and significantly more expensive — bow.

His dad set up a target range for him at home so Jake could practice more easily.

OUTLOOK PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - Nick Castrignano, store manager at Archery World, has worked with Ingram and praises his willingness to try new ideas and his dedication to practicing the sport. “He’d come home from school and shoot for about an hour every night,” Jeff said.

Jake also began practicing at Archery World, a Troutdale shooting range and archery shop. The folks at Archery World, impressed with Jake’s skill and enthusiasm, introduced him to shooting in league competitions.

“Jake has had to dedicate a lot of time to shooting ... perfecting his form,” said Archery World Manager Nick Castrignano, praising Jake for always being willing to learn and try out new ideas. “He listens really well and does a lot of research on his own.”

Last year Jake — now a 15 year-old sophomore at Barlow High School — won first place in the state in the Men’s Bow Hunter Freestyle competition in the youth division, for archers age 14 and younger. He went on to win first place in a five-state regional competition.

These are indoor archery target tournaments, with the state contest held each year in Bend.

Jake didn’t make it to last year’s national competition, held in Louisville, Ky.

“It was expensive, so we didn’t go,” Jeff said. “But his prior scores would have placed him second nationally.”

This year they hope to go to the national contest in Cincinnati, Ohio.

OUTLOOK PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - Ingram, 15, has received guidance from some of the state's best archers, but mostly taught himself the sport from YouTube videos and lots and lots of practice. Straight arrow

Competitions have different requirements and formats.

In the contest, Jake, who competes with a fancy, red compound bow, won the title called “blue face,” named because the large paper goal has five blue bullseyes on it. Each archer shoots five arrows in each of the 12 rounds for 60 arrows altogether. The center of the target is worth 10 points, and one less point in each concentric circle out. In the state competition, Jake shot one 300 round, a perfect score.

Jake pulls — or draws — 50 pounds of force on his compound bow, a contraption that uses a levering system of cables and pulleys to bend the arms of the bow. His arrows fly the 60 feet toward the target at about 260 feet per second.

“In hunting, you pull more,” he explained.

Jake concentrates on getting exactly the same form every time he shoots.

“I start with the feet first, at a slight angle left, about shoulder-width apart. Then I pull back and have my two knuckles at the same place on the jawline and my lips and nose on the (bow) string. You make sure it is the same every time — that’s the key to archery,” he said. “If you do the same thing every time you’ll get the same shot every time.”

Archery is becoming a much more popular sport, possibly aided by the success of the “Hunger Games” books and movies, which feature archery prominently. Participation in archery increased 14 percent from 2012 to 2014, bringing the number of bow shooters in America to 21.6 million, according to a study by the Archery Trade Association. The survey includes those 18 and older only, so Jake and other youth participants are not included.

OUTLOOK PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - Ingram, with his high-tech bow, readies a shot at the practice range at Archery World in Troutdale. Archery World’s Castrignano said to be good at the sport you have to be genuinely interested and invest time practicing. There is no particular size requirement or body type that is better for shooting. There are various kinds of bows and many types of competitions.

Of the 21.6 million archery participants, about 45 percent are target shooters only, while 24 are bow hunters only and about 31 percent do both. Castrignano noted that lots of people participate in archery who are not at all interested in hunting.

Jake was invited on one hunt and “was able to take a ram at 42 yards, which is really good for someone his age,” Jeff said.

Jake, who said he was more interested in target shooting, was largely self-taught. His dad said he has never had a formal coach, although other archers have helped him out, including the owner and staff at Archery World. Jake learned most of his skills from watching YouTube videos and hours of practice.

Jake is participating in some tournaments and programs under the umbrella of USA Archery, the feeder system for Olympic competition.

“We’ll see where this will take him,” Jeff said, but because Olympics-level archery is a different type, it will not likely take Jake to the international competition.

Archery is not Jake’s whole life.

Sporting braces on his teeth, he has other, more typical, teen interests. He rides dirt bikes and said he hopes to make the junior varsity baseball team at Barlow this spring. Math and science are his favorite subjects in school, and he plans to become a firefighter, like his dad.

For now, Jake has his eye cast firmly on the archery target.

“You don’t need to be a certain height or size,” he noted. “It is all skill.”

OUTLOOK PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - Ingram looks down the sight of his elaborate, red compound bow while getting ready to take a shot. SIDEBAR: Take a shot?

Archery World, 1053 N.W. Corporate Dr., Troutdale, is a good place to start if you are curious about the sport.

The facility offers classes, individual instruction and rentals. Folks interested in trying it out can rent equipment at $10 to $20 per hour, get a few tips and use the expansive Archery World shooting range.

The pro shop offers all types of services including repair, maintenance and stringing of different types of bows, along with a wide selection of equipment, even clothing, for sale.

Classes are open to all ages, meet one hour per week for five weeks and cost $50. One class series started Oct. 10, and another session starts at 5 p.m. Friday Oct. 21.

For more information, call 503-489-5596.