NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The epicenter of archery is not New York, yet. One coach is introducing the sport to minority youth, and the results are better than anyone could’ve expected.
Coach Larry Brown is the focus of this week’s Snapshot New York with CBS2’s Steve Overmyer.
You might not think archery is perfect for the Big Apple, but it’s not expensive, it’s not noisy, and you can do it in a basement of a school.
“What really gets you is that when kids get it, they want more,” Larry Brown said.
Brown has had a bow in his hands for 60 years. He coached Columbia University archery and quickly led them to No. 2 in the nation. But he quit because he felt he had more to do.
“I was on a mission. It was never about a job. It was a passion. A passion and a mission,” Brown said. “When I go to tournaments you don’t see a lot of young brothers and sisters at tournaments, black and brown and Hispanic children. So I’m like ‘You know what? Let’s make a change.'”
He used the first and simplest lesson of archery: you have to pull back to launch.
Fourteen years ago he introduced archery to a new community.
“I’m a photographer. I’m an artist. I can find a million other things to do. But when I come here on Saturday everything else gets tuned out,” Brown said.
His students start at age 6 and go up. What he teaches is a style that doesn’t depend on scopes or sights. It’s instinctive.
“We train with the eyes closed, so they can see the muscles on the inside being used,” Brown said. “The main thing is to get the person to see themselves on the inside.”
You will feel the sting of the bowstring, but mostly satisfaction.
When asked by CBS2’s Overmyer what he hopes New Yorkers recognize about archery, Brown said, “That it’s open to everybody. Everybody can do this regardless of size, strength or gender. Anybody can do this. It makes you a better person. Then the rest of the world can see that African-American and Hispanic children can do things that other people say they can’t.”
Brown identified his purpose, took aim at his target and hit the bull’s-eye.
Overmyer then met Dallas Jones, coach Brown’s prized pupil.
“Me and coach Brown, we’ve spent on the field for hours and hours, maybe eight hours a day,” Jones said.
Dallas fires about 200 arrows every day. It takes strength and focus to hold a bow with a draw weight of 54 pounds. That extra strength increases his accuracy, but buries the arrow deep in the target.
Brown’s protege isn’t just a competitor in the world of archery; he’s the two-time defending national champion.
He’s a star in his sport and he’s only 15.
Reminded that New York isn’t exactly a hotbed for archery, Jones says, “Not at all. Not in the slightest. It’s very strange.
“In archery, you’re standing still. People don’t count that as a sport. That’s not always what a sport is. Running back and forth doesn’t make everything a sport,” Jones added.
He’s an expert in a sport where there is little room for error. A minuscule shift in movement means a few inches outside the bull’s-eye.
In 2017, Jones became the first African-American to win a national championship. His next goal is the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.
The opportunity isn’t lost on Jones’ mother.
“It’ll be so awesome,” Quianna Lawrence said. “Well, you’ve got to speak things into existence. I’m a firm believer of that.”
Archery can give lessons in life. In the moment of truth, the secret is to relax and let go.
“The biggest benefit is to mentally mature yourself,” Jones said. “With this sport you can’t be immature. If I can apply the same focus from archery, there’s no reason why I can’t apply it in school.”
One coach’s passion has led to a student’s success — and now he’s the inspiration.
“Transferring passion to somebody else is very difficult. He does it very well. He did it with me,” Jones said of Brown. “He does it with all my friends who still shoot. He transferred that passion that he had to me. Now I’m hopefully transferring it to everybody else.”
Brown said he continues to teach his art to trigger an awakening.
“Then I realized it wasn’t about archery. It’s about changing people’s lives,” he said. When you coach and you teach, you change lives. And if you do it right, you change that life for the better.”
Brown also helps fund tournament trips for his students by painting and selling his artwork at local galleries.