Tateyama Shoots First at Competition

Jenna Nakanishi, Community Editor

On Feb. 8 to 10, Mililani Middle School sixth grader Riley Tateyama showcased her archery skills in the annual Vegas Shoot, held at the South Point Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nev. organized by the National Field Archery Association (NFAA). The Vegas Shoot is the largest indoor archery competition worldwide, with participating archers ranging in skill, age and country of origin. This past year, the 52 year of the tournament, saw a record attendance of 6000 spectators and 3767 archers from 50 countries and all 50 states. At its conclusion, Riley Tateyama placed first in the Recurve Cub Female Division.

    “I feel that I demonstrate good sportsmanship by creating friendships and helping out others for a fair game. I feel that I can focus really well when I am on the shooting line,” said Riley Tateyama.

    Riley Tateyama first started archery at the age of seven. She became interested in the sport after seeing Katniss Everdeen from the movie, “The Hunger Games,” on television. “To get Riley started in archery, I had to research where Riley could participate in archery here on the island. I found ‘Everything Archery’ and they were the only ones on the island that has a JOAD (Junior Olympic Archery Development) Program,” said Riley Tateyama’s mom, Stacie Tateyama.

    Riley Tateyama has worked to improve her skills. She invested hours of practice in preparation for the competition. “I practiced 5 times a week. I shot over 30,000 arrows in the last year,” said Riley Tateyama. Riley Tateyama’s archery coach, Lance Lam,  added, “Riley has improved more than 100 percent since she started. It’s a challenge for any archer to improve and to satisfy the coaches expectations. Riley has shown that her drive and wanting to improve in the sport has earned the respect (of her coaches).”

    Her strong support background has helped her come this far. Among her supporters are her parents, coaches and archery friends. “We, her dad and I, had to learn general knowledge about archery and her dad has also learned how to make bow strings, fletch arrows and tune her bow. We pay for her lessons, equipment and travel expenses.  We also invest time to take her to her lessons and practices,” said Stacie Tateyama. Lam added, “Riley has set goals and as a coach we work closely to achieve those goals. It’s all been goal setting process for both of us and we cannot obtain them without the common understanding, its working together to obtain the same goal from day one to current.”

    Along with archery, Riley Tateyama keeps up with her gymnastics practice and school work. Her varying activities can make it difficult to travel for competitions. “Traveling from Hawai’i to the mainland is challenging because of checking in the equipment with TSA and the long plane rides. Missing school is also challenging because I need to catch up on all my work, especially the tests. It is hard to find time to practice with all my homework and activities. I work hard to catch up on my work and tests in school. I stay up late to finish my work,” said Riley Tateyama. Stacie Tateyama added, “We are so proud of all her accomplishments in archery and how far she has come. We appreciate all the time and effort that she puts into the sport. We know that keeping up with gymnastics and school can be difficult and we could not be more proud of how she handles all the pressure.”

    Riley Tateyama’s involvement in archery has helped her to develop her character. Her good results at the competition reflects her long practices and commitment to improvement.  “She has been able to mentor beginner archers and pass on her knowledge in a humble way. She has learned to focus and stick to a sport that she loves even when it gets tough. She has learned to set goals and achieve them through hard work,” said Stacie Tateyama.

    In regards to the future, Riley Tateyama plans to enter and win more competitions. She will continue to pursue archery because of her enjoyment of the sport. “I like being with my friends and teaching others how to shoot. I like that archery is different from any other sport. I would like to win more tournaments like Indoor Nationals, Outdoor Nationals and another Vegas Shoot,” said Riley Tateyama. Stacie Tateyama added, “We would like to see Riley take this as far as she wants to go. If she wants to go to the Olympics, we would support her 100 percent with time and expenses. We hope that she continues to pursue her passions whether it be in archery or something else. We hope that she continues to show great sportsmanship, a positive attitude and commitment in everything she pursues.”

    As part of her win, Riley Tateyama won $1,000 in scholarship money. The money won from the 2019 Vegas Shoot, and any money won after, is kept in a fund by the NFAA until she is old enough to put it to use towards higher education.