Young archer takes aim at Olympics

Taking aim . . . Zac Campbell gets some practice in at a recent training session. PHOTOS: CONNOR HALEY

The latest round of Aspect Trust scholarships have been announced, with four leading South Canterbury athletes receiving a financial boost towards their global sporting goals. The Courier caught up with the athletes, and in this week’s edition reporter Connor Haley talks with young archer Zac Campbell.

South Canterbury archery ace Zac Campbell has his sights firmly set on future Olympic glory after being named a recipient of the leading athlete Aspect Trust scholarship.

The 16-year-old boasts an impressive array of recent achievements including three golds, a silver, and a bronze medal at the January 2023 New Zealand National Outdoor Championships.

The results aided his selection for the New Zealand team to compete at both the Trans-Tasman Challenge series and the World Archery Oceania Championships in Adelaide in April last year.

A gold, silver and bronze from Campbell helped the New Zealand team retain the transtasman trophy, and the young archer then secured himself two golds across the individual matchplay and twoperson mixed matchplay at the Oceania championships.

Campbell said he got into archery because he thought it would be a cool sport to try.

‘‘One of my primary school teachers told us about it, so I thought I’d just give it a go.

‘‘I just kept going from there and things just got big.’’

After some surprisingly strong early showings at local tournaments, Campbell started to take things a bit more seriously, and bought his own bow.

Covid hit just as the new bow arrived, and things came to a bit of standstill.

As competitions began again, it was suggested that he should try to make the transtasman team.

After achieving the qualifying scores at three South Island tournaments — then finding out he would need one more at a national tournament — he was selected for the team, which has been the highlight of his archery journey so far.

‘‘Getting to meet all the likeminded people has been the best bit. The Aussies were really cool.

‘‘It was my first international thing and it felt really good shooting on an international level, so I’m really proud of that especially.

‘‘They livestreamed the competition on TV, so I sent the link out to friends and they were watching in on Facebook and supporting me, which was awesome.’’

On target . . . Campbell shows off some of the archery medals he has won in recent years.

He said what really took him to the next level was the introduction of Dave Henshaw as a coach.

Despite being in his 80s, the Olympic-level coach caught wind of Campbell’s performances and got in touch to ask to coach him.

‘‘He’s really cool — he’s taken me under his wing. He helped set up my bow and I’ve been learning so much from him.

‘‘He is training six of us with the goal to get us to the Los Angeles Olympics.’’

Campbell said that was the ultimate goal.

‘‘I’m definitely pretty confident about getting there. I’m happy with the way everything has been going.

‘‘I think I can make it, it’s just getting the gear. It’s not a cheap sport, but once that is all sorted I think I’ll be good.’’

The money Campbell received from the scholarship has gone straight towards upgrading the limbs on his bow.

He said his current bow was not equipped to shoot the appropriate distances he would need when he begins his Olympic qualifying journey.

‘‘You need higher poundage to shoot further distance.

‘‘At under-18 you shoot 60m, whereas at the Olympics you shoot 70. My bow at the moment is even a bit too light to be shooting the 60.’’

Unfortunately the only place to get the higher quality limbs he required was from the United States, and with the Paris Olympics around the corner he has been patiently waiting for them to arrive.

To get to the 2028 Olympics he needs to both achieve the qualifying scores and attend three world cup events and get a top-16 finish.

Campbell currently spends his time training in Christchurch with Henshaw, and at Martins Field in College Rd as part of the Timaru Archery Club.

‘‘I’m training about three to four times a week.

‘‘I probably shoot about 200 arrows overall each session, but I aim to hit 180 good arrows.

‘‘I have a wee counter so I can count how many good ones I get.’’

He said the Timaru club was growing in strength, but at the moment they were on the lookout for a 30m-long indoors facility where they could shoot during winter.

This year’s focus for Campbell is on the indoor nationals in October, and beyond that the Dave Henshaw Classic and world events next year.

Anyone who can help the club with an indoor location can contact