Clare Shin, Dougherty’s own Katniss Everdeen

Megan Tsang, Features Editor

Like most Dougherty students, sophomore Clare Shin hopes to pursue a career in medicine. But, unlike most students, she’s also one of the best young archers in the nation. In 2015, she was ranked second in the nation for her age division after competing in the Easton Junior Olympic Archery Development (JOAD) Nationals. Now, she has her eyes set on a bigger prize: the United States Archery Team.

After receiving encouragement from her family and inspiration from her favorite book series, “The Hunger Games,” Shin picked up a bow and arrow for the first time in the summer before fifth grade. Fast forward a year, and she was placing first in her first competition.

Considering the fact that her medal collection is too large to display on her walls, it’s hard to believe that Shin wasn’t always a sharpshooter.

“[In the beginning], I missed all of the arrows that I shot,” she admitted with a laugh.

It was through years of training and competition that she was finally able to reach the top. She remembers the aching muscles, constant ice packs and chiropractor visits. The now- 16-year-old shoots 100 arrows every day — even more when she has a tournament approaching — with her coach of 5 years, Hye Youn Park. Park has won an individual gold medal for archery in the Asian Games, which, according to Shin, is considered to be harder than the Olympics.

Shin competes in 11 tournaments per year, each one lasting for two to four days. “The feeling that you’re getting better every day through training and practice [is the most rewarding part],” she said. “Just looking at the progress makes me feel satisfied.”

However, her immense success hasn’t come without sacrifice. Often, her life as an athlete comes into conflict with her life as a normal teenager. “Whenever I try to get together with my friends and everything, they’re all free except for me ‘cause I have tournaments,” Shin explained. “And I try to apply to [summer] camps, but they always interfere.”

As a freshman and a nascent sophomore, the pressure of the sport caught up to her. She felt depressed about her disappointing performance as well as her academics, and considered quitting archery. But, the support of her coach and family helped her to persevere and creating new objectives acted as her catalyst. “I wanted to get into the USAT [United States Archery Team], so I continued because of that, because I had a goal.”

In order for her to make the Junior USAT, she will have to become one of the top five archers for her division. Having placed 12th in a national tournament in April, the doe-eyed Korean-American’s path to glory won’t be as straight as an arrow. Her next, and last, chance to qualify will be in July.

“I thought all of my hard work would be wasted if I just gave up,” Shin said. “With strong determination and mentality, I am confident that I can reach my goal.”