Student's passion for archery on target

BEEKMANTOWN - Baseball, football, soccer, track and ... archery?

Although it may not be the most common high-school sport to play, Brandon Bessette-Agnew could show anybody good reason to become an archer.

The Beekmantown High School student has been practicing archery for a few years now, but has recently gained national attention for his skills.

Bessette-Agnew is now the New York State indoor champ for the male compound bow in the age 13-17 class and also recently took the New Eastern Regional Championship.

He stands sixth in the country in indoor target shooting and 10th in the country for outdoor, in his division.

"It was kind of a fluke thing," he said about picking up the sport.

His father's old bow was given to him for a birthday present when his father bought an upgrade. That's all it took to set a champion on a course to success.

"It was a hobby at first," Brandon said. "I picked up the mechanics and form really well."

Although he may have been a natural, Brandon said the accessibility of archery is what attracts him to the sports.

"I think some of the nicest people in the world do archery," Brandon said.

"You can't be an amateur baseball player and play with Derek Jeter," he said. " I shot with the U.S. Olympic team, and an eight-time world champion was standing next to me shooting at nationals."

Brandon said he was able to have a short conversation with the world-class athlete, in which he learned more than his entire time arching.

"It's a very tight-knit community," he said.

Archery's tightly-knit community is not made up of larger than life super-athletes, said Brandon. On the contrary - archery itself is a very accessible sport to those who have disabilities, or are those who are not born with that certain athletic edge that other sports require.

"It's great for kids with disabilities," Brandon said. "Or even for kids like me who aren't athletic."

Brandon himself is involved with a youth archery training program. The young prodigy has plans for the future, and his love for the sport is clearly not fading away any time soon.

"I feel great about it," he said. "It's definitely something I want to do through college."

Michael O'Keefe is an intern with the State University of New York at Plattsburgh.

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