You’d never know Liam Smith is an archery superstar. At 11 years old, Liam is friendly, kind and outgoing. But this young athlete is no stranger to international competition: in 2013, he became the gold-medal champion of the World Dwarf Games.
We checked in with Smith at the 2014 Easton JOAD Nationals, a championship event hosted by USA Archery. We wondered: how does an 11 year old go from trying a bow and arrow to becoming a national contender and an international success?
“Archery sounded like fun and I had never tried it before,” Smith explained. “I first tried archery at Cub Scout Day Camp and then at family YMCA camp. At the YMCA camp I entered the weekly tournament and placed second out of all the archers.”
Smith, who is a member of the Top Nock JOAD Club in Michigan, also got a little help from other archers: “My coaches encouraged me to enter a local tournament. Once I saw how much fun it was, I wanted to be prepared for my chance to compete in archery at the World Dwarf Games.”
Competing at a high level is a lofty goal for any archer – but the World Dwarf Games combines kids and adults for competition. “Going into the Games I wanted to do my best because I got put into a division with all the adults,” Smith explained.
“During the competition I was a little nervous at first but I tried not to let any distractions get into my head. Once I knew I had won, I felt so proud to have shot my best for the United States.”
Ready for a new challenge, Smith set his sights on competing at USA Archery’s Easton JOAD Nationals, which was combined with another event for a total of 900 archers this year.
“The Nationals was the biggest tournament I have attended so far,” Smith said. “I got to see and cheer on old friends, and make new friends. It was really cool to meet so many Olympians, Paralympians and [international] archers. I learned there are a lot of good archers on the line.”
Smith, whose favorite school subjects are math and science, also enjoys swimming, Boy Scouts and playing percussion instruments. Long-term, he would like to continue competing in archery at a high level.
“I want to be a Paralympian archer, but there is currently no classification for archers with dwarfism,” he explained. “I would also like to earn my 6-Gold Star and Olympian pins.”
Aric Smith, Liam’s father, says archery has helped Liam in many ways: “I think the sport is helpful in promoting health, stamina, patience, attention to details, responsibility and core strength.”
“The safety of a non-contact sport is paramount since dwarfism contributes to a higher vulnerability to cervical/neck problems from injurious contact,” Aric continues. “Archery is also helpful for Liam because he can have a sense of team camaraderie in practice and competition, yet he can focus and build upon his individual performance.”
Does archery sound like the sport for you? Check out ways to get involved with archery in near you. Interested in competition? Find a tournament now.