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Archery: Mallon targets rise to the top

By Brian Elliot

In his spare time, Robert Mallon likes to do the same things as the rest of his peers.

After school, it's hanging out with his friends, and playing Playstation 2, the latter a must for any 15 year old boy.

But what distinguishes Mallon from the rest of his classmates, is his impressive ability in archery.

Having been introduced to the sport by his grandfather a little over a year ago, he has made remarkable strides, even winning both the Northern Ireland and the British barebow championships in his age-bracket.

"Robert first appeared at a beginners' course last summer," said Lough Cuan Archery club secretary Arthur Halligey.

"Since then, he's continued to improve immensely. He has won a number of titles, and I believe he has the potential to be a lead archer."

With great modesty, Mallon admits that the fact that he had some natural talent for the sport, encouraged him to partake further. From then on, while football and boxing were sports that he enjoyed watching, archery would be the one that he loved to compete in.

"When I first had the chance to have a go at archery, I was just trying to hit the target," Mallon explained.

"But both my grandad and my instructor seemed to think that I had some ability for it. I kept going back, and kept improving, and have been doing so ever since."

Mallon's specialist event is the barebow, which is another nod to his natural ability, since it is the most technically primitive of all the events.

He says: "In barebow competition, you are not allowed to use any instrument to aid your accuracy - the only thing you have is yourself. The distance can be difficult to measure, but that's what the event is all about. "

In speaking to Local Heroes, Mallon cited his grandfather as the one who has helped him most throughout his short sporting career. Always travelling with him, his grandfather is also his best coach.

" My grandad is very supportive, and is always helping me," he said.

"In competition, he's always reminding me to concentrate on my technique, and when things don't go well, he's also reminding me to keep calm! I should also mention Neil Gordon, John Rainey, and John Kenny, who help me a lot too. "

With success already attained in the aforementioned Northern Ireland and British championships, then, Mallon's thoughts have moved ahead to even bigger things. With his 16th birthday not until March, time is on his side.

"The World Field Archery championships are being held in Wales next year," he adds.

"I'm enjoying the sport, and the competitiveness of it, so doing well there is certainly a goal. From there, who knows? I guess every sportsman thinks about the Olympic Games, and I am no different."

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