Like most 17-year-old kids, Chris Wiger is growing, changing.
So, too, are his aspirations — even the steely focus that has made him the best archer in the state in his age group pretty much since he started competing in state tournaments.
Yes, that focus has become even more intense. As has his focus on a possible life path.
For years, Wiger talked about someday competing in the Olympics. Now a junior at Brainerd High School, he’s starting to hone in on what will follow. And with that, he said he likely will concentrate on college and a career, shooting mostly as a hobby.
For someone who for years has dominated Minnesota State Archery Association (MSAA) events, that would appear to be good news for his fellow MSAA competitors.
But not so fast.
Wiger will continue to compete in the main MSAA events in the young adult category this year and next, and then, even with college, he’s looking forward to competing in the adult division.
“I think I’ll be ready,” Wiger said.
Indeed. In the MSAA State Indoor March 31-April 1 in Bemidji, Wiger won the young adult male bowhunter freestyle category and the young adult male freestyle. In the latter, in 60 shots from 20 yards, he recorded 59 “Xs” — the “X” is the tiny inside circle of the bull’s-eye, about the size of a quarter. He said that, in the adult division, would have finished first or second in the tournament.
He said he’s hit a perfect 60 “Xs” before, but the 59 was his best in a tournament.
“My mental focus is really in the zone,” Wiger said of taking his shooting to, yes, the next level. “Whenever I shoot targets I’m focused. When I’m shooting I tell myself these sayings and see which works the best.
“‘Aim, pull.’ I keep running that through my head.
“(With) my pre-shooting routine, which is also important, I take time just to sit down, relax and focus and visualize my shooting process. I pray to calm myself, which really helps. These things help me become more relaxed and help me to get in the flow before I begin shooting.”
Focus has been just a part of the equation, though, Wiger said. He’s also grown and gotten bigger and stronger in the last year, he said.
“The physical part has helped, too,” Wiger said. “I’ve grown. That helps. And being bigger and stronger. You use your back muscles a lot (to shoot).”
All of that will only help as he attempts to win his seventh consecutive grand champion award, determined by performances at the MSAA tournaments each year. He’s still got the 900-target event in June, the field tournament in July and the 3-D tournament in August.
“My favorite is the 900,” said Wiger, adding that he’s won each of the three events the last several years. “I like the long distance (60 yards instead of the usual 20 yards). And I like shooting at the big, round targets. And shooting outside. You have to shoot in anything. It’s a challenge. It can get real windy, rain.”
While college and a career are part of why he doesn’t plan to pursue his Olympic dream, he said archers shoot recurve bows at the Olympics; he is much more comfortable with a compound bow.
“For sure math or science,” he said of what he plans to pursue in college. “It (archery) will be more of a hobby. I’ll still shoot the big state and national tournaments to keep it fun.”
BRIAN S. PETERSON, outdoors editor, may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5864. To follow him on Twitter, go to www.twitter.com/brian_speterson. For his blogs, go to www.brainerddispatch.com.