Young Birmingham archer hits the bull's-eye

Young Birmingham archer hits the bull's-eye


Young Birmingham archer hits the bull's-eye


Seaholm High School student Coby Moscowitz is pictured with his archery coach Jim Morrow.

Seaholm High School student Coby Moscowitz is pictured with his archery coach Jim Morrow.

The sport of archery requires a high degree of strength and mental focus from its top performers. Forget about how easy Errol Flynn and his successors make it look in the Robin Hood movies.

To draw the bow back, using the correct technique, and then focus on the target and release the arrow at just the right moment often takes years to master.

But Birmingham resident Coby Moscowitz, 16, is an exception. Moscowitz, a Seaholm High School junior, is an elite archer who competes across the U.S. and abroad.

His father Carey introduced Coby to archery at age 7 by having him shoot at balloons and then at money – which he got to keep when he scored direct hits.

Perhaps it was the financial incentive that helped him develop so rapidly. Whatever the reason, archery soon became so easy that Moscowitz wanted to quit his new-found sport less than a year after he began.

The turning point came when Moscowitz switched from a compound bow – commonly used by hunters – to the longer and more difficult recurve bow, which is used in Olympic competitions.

The recurve bow requires more strength and skill than the compound bow, which kept Moscowitz’s interest long enough for him to begin competing – and winning.

He eventually scored enough high finishes in sanctioned events to earn a ranking of “Cadet” from USA Archery, the organization that oversees Olympic-style archery in the U.S.

He’s also ranked as a “Young Adult” competitor by the National Field Archery Association, the lead organization for American field archery, in which shooters aim at targets at various distances. Standard Olympic archery involves shooting from 70 meters.

Hours of practice

Even though Moscowitz achieved his rankings relatively quickly, he explains that archery success does take some time.

“Everybody thinks, ‘Oh, I could pull back a bow,'” Moscowitz said. “No, you really can’t. You can be the strongest man and not do it correctly, because there are totally different muscles being used.

“But I’ve been told, through shooting – (because) it’s all in your back muscles and I’ve just been working on it so long – people have told me that I have developed one of the (strongest) back muscles that there is.”

Moscowitz doesn’t do any special workouts to strengthen his back, adding that he’s developed his frame through archery training and competition. He practices about 15 hours each week, working three hours per session, five days each week, with two days off to rest those back muscles and his fingers.

At times, however, Moscowitz finds the mental aspects of competitive archery more difficult than the physical demands.

It’s taken some time to get used to competing against more experienced archers “from all across the world,” he said, “and being put on a spotlight, having commentators going behind you and just shouting out your score. You have to make sure that you just blow it off and not worry about it at all.”

Olympic trials

As a high school student in Michigan, Moscowitz is currently at a disadvantage when competing against those experienced archers, who typically have more time to practice and can often do so year-round, outdoors.

“A lot of them have dropped out of high school or haven’t gone to college and don’t plan on going to college,” Moscowitz said. “So they go to a training camp – which I’ve been offered, but I don’t want to leave high school. I want to finish high school; I want to go to college.”

Moscowitz is currently ranked high enough to try out for the U.S. Olympic team, when the qualification process begins in September.

Despite his disadvantages and his youth – the average age of the three-man 2012 U.S. Olympic team was 24 – Moscowitz ssaid, “It’s realistic that, if I put the work into it like I am right now for the World Trials, I could make it” to the 2016 Olympic squad.

Whether he makes the team or not, there’s no chance Moscowitz will revisit his earlier idea of leaving the sport.

He plans to continue shooting while in college, possibly at Texas A&M, the site of this year’s Olympic qualification stage. He adds that, at age 7, he never would’ve guessed where archery would take him.

“Not really,” he said. “I never thought I’d make it this far and go to as many places and know as many friends from all over. I never thought that could happen.”

Moscowitz will be in Gainesville, Fla., next week to try out for the U.S. Youth World Championship squad and the American adult World Cup team.


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