Patrick Huston, 20. is a full time archer for Team GB. He won the first stage of the indoor World Cup in Marrakesh in 2015, and is the reigning World Youth Champion (winning in Wuxi back in 2013), as well as the World Junior Field Champion from Croatia in 2014.
Where are you right now and what can you see?
On a SouthWest airlines flight from Las Vegas to San Diego. The chair in front has Alex Smith with his headphones on and the old air steward sporting bright white hair and a yellow vest.
Tell everyone why this has been a good year for you.
This past year has been my first full year as a full time archer, and I’ve absolutely loved it! I’ve set a World Junior record of 348/360 at 70m during a 1440 round. This also claims every record up to European Senior and below as mine as well. It was on the second day of the National Series at Exmouth in August, amazingly at the first tournament I’ve camped at!
I also won the British National Series (outdoor), the British Target Championships with a clean sweep across the three events and my first senior international – the Indoor World Cup in Marrakech saw me win men’s recurve gold. Such an experience! I’d advise you to have a look at the video! My shooting is a lesson in why to never give up during a head-to-head.
Is there any part of your technique you’ve changed recently?
Well, over the summer I started doing a fairly noticeable canting of my bow. A photo of this was actually the cover of issue 103 Of Bow International. The reason before this was that as I did it I dipped my left scapula down and engaged the lower traps on that side to hold the position.
The thing I actually loved about doing it was that loads of people have no idea why I did it and some came up with many of their own explanations of why I might be doing it… ;).
How has your mental game changed? Has it changed?
Yes, quite a lot. I read ‘With Winning in Mind’ by Lanny Bassham in June and the stuff he teaches in that revolutionised my mental game. I think I already had a pretty solid mental game but now I feel I can hit the focus level and intensity I need far more consistently. I’m really pleased to have been able to spend an even with Troy and Brian Bassham, Lanny’s sons, in Vegas. Absolutely wonderful guys!
When you broke the European record in August, did you know you were on for it? If so, how did the last arrow feel?
I have to say I knew I was on for records but I didn’t know how high, personally I just knew Larry (Godfrey) had the British record at 343, so I knew I’d be over that. It hadn’t really occurred to me that I might be achieving well above that! The last two ends I did come up and down a little more than I would normally do and I was there till the last twenty seconds, something I really don’t do outdoors. The last end my last arrow was shaky, I won’t deny that, frankly I feel it was very shaky. I probably held a good ten or more seconds, but I still hit a nine with it! I’ve just asked Ashe (Morgan) and he says I wasn’t really noticeably shaky at all… just my point of view then!
Have you learned anything from other archers on international duty recently?
I think the most important thing I have learnt recently is to check your scorecard thoroughly and to make 100% sure you have it signed. With Reo Wilde having the USA men’s compound team dropped from the cut (in Copenhagen) for not checking that his target companion had written the right score – and those guys would have been serious contenders for the world title.
It’s the kind of thing you don’t really think about but when it really matters it’s gonna jump up and bite you in the bum. I know judges in the UK are being lenient with it, which is fair as it’s a lower standard of shoot at home, but we really need to get on top of this so that our athletes fit the bill abroad and also so our shoots are the hitting the same standards as internationals.
Tell us your impression of Rio and the Sambodromo.
The Sambodromo is the most amazing venue!! It is the home of the Rio Carnivale, an enormous concrete structure rising 20m or more each side. We are shooting on a concrete surface, strangely with a massive hump in the centre which is being flattened out with a man-made surface on top of it. There is a huge arch, not dissimilar to the McDonald’s M, at the target end. This is the back drop of many concerts held in Rio.
The spectator stands tower above the shooting line with ten or more levels, each block holding around 10,000 people. The ranking round, in front of this arch is on a field maybe 150m wide, whilst the matches are held in a much more confined area. Here the stands are maybe only 50m or less apart. This will make for some high intensity archery! The precursor of this you could already see with Kim Woojin shooting 353/360 for his last 36 arrows at the test event.
What’s the strongest part of your shot cycle?
Frankly I would have to say my release. It is a result of years working to get back tension involved in my shot. I shot four times a week in my early teenage years and a very large proportion of this time was trying to clean up my release and get through the clicker. I have a strong back half of my shot which is probably the foundation of my shot. It knows exactly what it does, and it does it well.
Funnily though one of the hallmarks of the best archers in the word is incredibly fine clicker control – basically at full draw they hold a millimetre or so of point under the clicker and expand through that! Strangely I have pretty crap clicker control comparatively, I hold maybe three or four millimetres in front and often seesaw a bit back, however the movement is consistent and powerful which is what I need!
Who was your inspiration as a child?
As an actual child I would say Agamemnon of Mycenae. I have a copy of his death mask at home in Northern Ireland from a visit to Greece as a youngster – my granny was a great fan of the classics. I always admired his incredibly leadership and persuasive capabilities! He united a massively disparate nation of Greek kingdoms under one banner to attack one of the most well defended strongholds in the world – Troy!
What have you got planned for the outdoor season?
Well, as you all know this outdoor season is a pretty important one for us guys on the GB squad. We have Olympic qualification as the first big target on the agenda! The year is starting out with a week in Chula Vista – the US Olympic Training Centre – doing high level competition training with a host of other international teams. That’s where we are off to at the moment!
Then we go down to Mexico for a week more unstructured training with those guys. March we are at home most of the time… But at the end we fly out to Antalya for a training event on the World Cup field there, home for a selection shoot then shortly after off to Shanghai for the first leg of the outdoor World Cup.
We come back from that, another selection shoot – these two are for the European Championships, which come in at the end of May. These present an opportunity to qualify one man and one woman for Rio. That event is held on Friday 27th of May, support would be much appreciated! You can make a weekend of it and come along to Market Square on Saturday and Sunday and watch the finals. Two weeks later it’s off to Antalya for the World Cup again with the hope of securing teams of places for the games. Busy I know!! Pretty mental when you look at all of it like that.
Who’s the new GB coach, then?
Richard Priestman. He’s a three time Olympian and twice a bronze medallist – Seoul and Barcelona in the team event – he’s been around since the dawn of modern archery and frankly knows everything! Hanging worked with him for the past few months I’m very pleased with him and we are already seeing noticeable increases in the scores being posted! He’s the kind of guy who you’ll ask him a question about something archery related and he’ll give you three or four different opinions on how to approach the topic and then apply the most suitable one to you…
Thanks Patrick! Shoot strong this year.