Friday, April 18, 2014
By Craig Crosby firstname.lastname@example.org
READFIELD — Charlie Weinstein slips the arrow into place and carefully draws back the bowstring, his left hand resting against his cheek. He stands, motionless, locking in his sight on the dime-sized bull’s-eye nearly 60 feet away. Weinstein gently flexes his left shoulder. The movement is imperceptible, but it kicks off an explosion that launches the arrow, which, in a fraction of a second, has found its mark inside the center circle, what Weinstein calls the sweet spot. It’s a place Weinstein’s arrows find with the regularity of a metronome.
Charlie Weinstein, 17, is the fifth-ranked outdoor shooter in his age group – 16 to 21 – and first-ranked indoor shooter, according to USA Archery.
Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal
Charlie Weinstein, 17, practices archery on Thursday in a storage room at Maranacook Community Middle School in Readfield.
Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal
“I love the rush of shooting,” Weinstein said. “It’s a feeling you don’t get in any other sport.”
A 17-year-old junior at Maranacook High School, Weinstein is already pushing on the outer edges of excellence in that sport. He is the fifth-ranked outdoor shooter in his age group – 16 to 21 – and first-ranked indoor shooter, according to USA Archery. Last month, Weinstein took first at a competition in Newberry, Fla., to earn one of just three spots on the U.S. Archery Junior Compound Team that will compete next month in Nimes, France. The event wrapped up a big 2013 season for Weinstein that included breaking the Maine Archery Association’s 5-spot record with 60 bull’s-eyes, taking third at the Junior Olympics Archery Development outdoor nationals and hitting a record 59 bull’s-eyes at the New England Indoor Sectionals. The last time Weinstein suffered a defeat in New England was April 15, 2011. He still feels the sting.
“That was a very bad day,” he said.
“He is remarkable,” said his coach, Steve Dunsmoor, of Lakeside Archery in North Yarmouth. “He’s a very, very talented young man.”
Weinstein took up the sport in 2008 and began competing in 2011. He has advanced quickly, thanks, in part, to mental toughness and discipline. Weinstein’s makeup sets him apart from others Dunsmoor has coached.
“He’s much more receptive, more implementive,” the coach said. “When you say, ‘Let’s try to accomplish that,’ he’s much more willing to change. He’s very easy to work with.”
Weinstein has an easy nature about him that helps him remain focused when his shooting sours.
“It’s a very disciplined sport, much like martial arts would be,” Dunsmoor said.
Instead of mounting pressure to excel and win, Weinstein said he finds tranquility on the range.
“If I get stressed out while I’m shooting, I’ll shoot some more,” he said. “I’ll shoot until the stress is gone.”
That easygoing demeanor does not equate to aloofness, however. Weinstein is driven to perfect his craft. He shoots four or five times per week during the winter – Maranacook Middle School in his hometown of Readfield made space for Weinstein to set up a makeshift range in the basement – and every day during the summer.
“This is my passion,” Weinstein said. “I don’t shoot for the medals. I shoot for the competition and challenge.”
Beyond the competition and the challenge, Weinstein has found a close-knit group that he calls family. Most of its members live in the western part of the country. Every tournament turns into a de facto reunion.
“I love the people,” Weinstein said. “I spend more time with my teammates than I do my family at tournaments.”
Shooting an arrow involves little more than pulling back on the bow, aiming the arrow in the general direction of the target and letting it fly. Shooting an arrow with repeated precision involves a maze of calculations that factor wind direction, humidity and yardage. Weinstein said even a few inches can have a dramatic impact on those calculations. The calculations, the bow and the target all flood Weinstein’s mind and are funneled into the release in perfect balance.
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