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One-armed Central DeWitt archer getting ready for the nationals



DeWitt, Iowa – Lucas Hledik, a senior archer, is hard at work at Central DeWitt Intermediate School.

“My approach is don’t think of anything,” Hledik said. “I already know where to shoot. It’s just muscle memory. I started off high for where people normally start, so I already had the bar set high for myself and then I slowly gained higher and higher.”

Hledik’s perseverance earned him a spot in the national tournament and a top-10 performance at the Iowa State Bullseye Tournament this year.

“There were 15,000 high school boys across the country that shot archery at some point in the season,” said Ed Vance, who started the Central DeWitt archery program. “His score of a 290, which is what he scored at the Iowa state tournament, [put him] in the 99th percentile of all high school boys shooters out there.”

Hledik’s path to becoming one of Iowa’s best archers differs slightly from that of his rivals. His left arm was absent from birth.

“At the very start, it was very challenging to try and find the way to tight shoot,” Hledik said. “I couldn’t shoot like normal people, and even now I shoot a lot differently than normal people do. I shoot with a mouth tab. I just grip on to, and then I shoot it how other people do from then on.”

“I mean there is nothing that is going to bother him too much,” Vance said. “He figures out what he’s got to do to make improvements for the next time and moves forward. Constantly moving forward.”

Whatever the competition, Hledik takes a straightforward strategy.

“Don’t try to compare yourself to others,” Hledik said. “Just compare yourself to yourself.”

Hledik will participate in the May national competition in Louisville, Kentucky.