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By aalvarado
Oct. 2, 2010 at 5:02 a.m.

Daniel Gonzales, 10, has been practicing the sport since he was 6 years old, trained by Tom Barker and Gene Kazir. In the photo, Gonzales pulls back the arrows from the target during his hour practice.

Daniel Gonzales has taken dead aim at archery since he was six and he has the medals and plaques to show for it.

"I like to compete with my friends and meet new friends," Gonzales said about participating in archery.

Gonzales' instructor Tom Barker at the Straight Arrow Archery Learning Center said the 10-year-old Junior Advanced Bowman has committed himself more the last year and the results have shown it.

Gonzales has competed in tournaments in Victoria, Wharton County and Austin in the last two years.

Barker said what makes archery unique is that it's a sport where a person doesn't have to be blessed with certain physical abilities needed in other sports.

"We tend to get a lot of kids in archery that aren't blessed with those kinds of things because they not blessed with the right body," Barker said.

Currently Gonzales competes in the Junior Advanced Bowman division that consists of children between the ages of eight and 12.

Barker said that since archery is more of a performance-based activity than an outcome-based one, the final standings at a tournament and placing don't always show how well an archer faired and that's a lesson kids can take off the range.

"That's one of the other life skills these kids learn is that sometimes despite all your effort and your work there's no guarantee you're going to achieve that goal, so teaching them to fail is as an important part as teaching them how to succeed," Barker said.

Not only does the sport allow young archers to interact with other competitors their age, but parents also connect with each other.

"The people in archery are people of their own breed, they're different," said Daniel's mother Dorney. "There is competition, but you don't feel that stress."

Barker said in order for a child to succeed in archery, they have to have passion for the sport, access to coaching and parental support, not just financially.

"Daniel has parents that are willing to help him out in terms of equipment to make sure he's shooting to his potential and he's not limited by his equipment," Barker said.

Added Dorney: "You have to be there for them and make sure they go with the instructor and make sure that they have all the right equipment. It's not cheap, but as long as you see that they're interested in it and he's doing well and he's trying you do what you can."

Archery isn't the only field where Gonzales has set and reached his goals. In addition to being an A/B honor roll student at Industrial Elementary, his other ambitions are to play football for Industrial High and become a film director.

On the range, Gonzales hopes to participate in college archery at the University of Texas.

Watching the sport on the Olympic stage in 2008 gave him another thing to shoot for.

"Yes that would be awesome," said Gonzales about one day being on the podium.

Barker wouldn't be surprised to see Gonzales compete at the sport's highest level.

"Just like the old Chinese proverb, 'Every thousand-mile march starts with a single step,' Daniel's in those early steps, but he certainly has the potential to go forward," Barker said.



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