Ruari Griffin, 11, competes this weekend in her third State Games. Griffin took up archery three years ago after a medical condition left her unable to continue swimming. Her instructor realized her skill quickly and before completing her first archery class she advanced to competition as part of a team. She uses a recurve bow in competition. GR|Mag spoke with Griffin and her father, Stephen Griffin.
GR|Mag: How did you first get involved in archery and competing?
Ruari Griffin: Our neighbor’s backyard had a compound bow and I asked to try it. When my dad saw me he told not to shoot that.
Stephen Griffin: They were shooting at a target with an above ground pool on the opposite side. At first, we couldn’t find many places for coaching or training or even practicing. The West Michigan Archery Center in Rockford had an intro class so we asked her if she’d be interested in it. In the middle of the intro, which was an eight-week course, she was invited to be part of a team and to transition out of intro into competition.
GR|Mag: I heard before archery you did a different sport?
RG: Yes, swimming.
GR|Mag: Why did you switch?
RG: I had seizures because my brain wasn’t communicating. I couldn’t go underwater so I had to find a different sport and it was archery, and it all started with our neighbor’s yard.
GR|Mag: What did you like about archery when you first tried it?
RG: It’s relaxing to me.
GR|Mag: And you discovered you were pretty good at?
RG: (laughing) Yeah.
GR|Mag: Have you faced any challenges during your time competing?
RG: One of them is you have to pinch your shoulder blades and that is very hard to do for me. When I try to do it, it hurts.
SG: The competitions can be as short at three hours or long as eight.
GR|Mag: Have there been any highlights you’ve experienced?
RG: Medals and plaques (Griffin took first place in the Winter Meijer State Games in her age group and also took first place competing with the Lake Michigan archery Association).
GR|Mag: How many events will you compete in this weekend?
RG: Three events.
SG: Friday is a team round. That is like Yahtzee. They put a bunch of archers, regardless of age and bow style, into a hat so to speak and place people on teams. It’s run like a relay, everyone gets a certain number of arrows they shoot and their scores are added together. Saturday and Sunday is one event over two days.
*Photos by Stephen Griffin