A week after coming home a national archery champion, people keep asking 19-year-old Ian Allen the same question.

“Everybody keeps bringing it up - what about the Olympics?” Ian said with a chuckle. “Sure, it would be pretty cool.”

But, he admits, he still has a long way to go.

Ian, however, is on the right track, beating more than 70 other archers from across the nation shooting in the Olympic Recurve competition during the 2017 4-H Shooting Sports National Championships.


Ian, who will be a sophomore at Hutchinson Community College next semester, is the son of John and Kim Allen. He was a member of the Royal Clovers 4-H Club and a graduate of Central Christian School.

More than 700 youths from 37 states participated in the three-day event in Grand Island, Nebraska. States can send up to 36 youths to compete in one of nine discipline areas: compound archery, recurve archery, air rifle, air pistol, .22 rifle, .22 pistol, shotgun, muzzleloading and hunting skills, said Cindy Colle, one of Reno County’s shooting sports project leaders.

Kansas had the top four youths in the state representing each discipline, she said. Ian, however, was the only national winner.

Ian was starting his freshman year at HCC last fall when Colle called him about competing in the state competition. Turning 19 after Jan. 1 allowed him to still participate in 4-H. Ian had qualified for nationals two years ago, winning first place in the state meet, but didn’t attend.

He won the state title in September. The national title soon became his goal. After the state meet, his dad, John, helped him buy a high-caliber bow.

He began practicing almost daily, shooting for two hours a day. He even started practicing with a Missouri coach who has trained Olympic archers. The coach, Larry Skinner, helped him with his form.

He strove to get better.

“Ever since I was little, I was shooting a bow,” he said, adding he and his family also hunt. “It’s a challenge. I enjoy the challenge of getting better and always working.”

The national meet was June 25-30.

“It is nerve wracking,” said Ian. “It is three days of competition. I’m competing against 72 others kids (in recurve) from across the nation. I have no idea their skill level. I have no idea what they are shooting or what their scores are.”

Each of the three days of shooting are different. One day is the FITA Round, shooting bull's-eyes. The second day is the Field Round and is similar to the Olympics but at different distances. The third day competitors shoot at foam animals at unknown distances.

Ian was the top shooter days one and three. On the second day, he finished second.

“By the third day I kind of knew who my competition was,” Ian said. “It came down to either I would win or he would win. I ended up beating him.”

He also competed as a team with the three other Kansas recurve finalists. They finished seventh, according to the event results.

John Allen helped Ian set goals this past year.

“This is huge, it really is,” he said of his son’s championship. “We are pretty excited for him. He put in a lot of time and when you see him succeed in his goals, that is pretty cool.”

One day of the competition Ian shot in 30 mph winds.

Allen said an amazing stat that is overlooked is the safety of the event.

“There were 700 and some kids, and 7,000 to 10,000 shots,” he said. “It’s been like that for years and there have been no accidents.”

Allen said Ian will compete in the USA National Target Championships in Westfield, Indiana, later this month. He will compete in the Junior Olympic Archery Development Division.

“USA Archery, for Olympic recurve, that is really the path to the Olympics,” he said, adding Ian will see more competition. “For any sporting event, you have to go shoot more, and that is his next step.”

Ian will continue competing at USA Archery events. He also is considering shooting in college.

“The thing with archery is, you will never be able to perfect it,” he said, adding that is why he enjoys it so much. “It is something you can always work on. There is always something to work on to get better.”