Raymond Singkeo was just 6 years old when he began hounding his mother to learn archery. The Edmonds boy had seen someone shoot a bow on television, and he knew that he wanted to learn how to do that, recalled his mother, Keogh Singkeo.
Six months later, she finally gave in and brought him to the Next Step Archery School in Mountlake Terrace. That was nearly three years ago, and now, at the age of 8, Raymond is the statewide Junior Archer of the Year for 2013—the first ever Junior Archer of the Year recognized by the Washington State Archery Association according to their monthly newsletter. This award is given to the archer with the most points in the state across all divisions under the age of 18.
He has also won 12 state championships, two division championships, got second place in his division at the World Indoor Archery Championships and has broken and re-broken several state records for his division.
There is something else about the Madrona School Deaf and Hard of Hearing Program third-grader that his mother thinks might be contributing to his success: He was born profoundly deaf. Keogh Singkeo said that her son has told her that when he’s competing, he’s glad for the deafness because there are fewer distractions. Keogh also believes that Raymond benefits from the improved visual acuity that comes with being deaf.
Perhaps that is also a part of why Raymond prefers to shoot a bare bow—that is, a bow without any visual scopes or guides to aid the archer with aiming. His bow is a compound bow, which uses a system of pulleys and levers to take the pressure of the draw off the hand of the archer.
Raymond is able to understand speech and sign language, and his mother can sign to him to clarify anything he doesn’t understand.
After getting her son involved with archery, Keogh has also started shooting a bow, which has helped her understand the technical things Raymond talks about, and of course allowed her to share the experience with her son.
“It’s such a great sport for all people,” she said. “One of the most interesting things about archery is that people of all ages and abilities shoot side by side.”
The Next Step Archery School, the educational sector of The Nock Point Archery Center, is a non-profit organization and has lessons available for all experience levels and students can range “from age seven to 100,” according to their website.
Raymond has many mentors at The Nock Point Archery Center, and they all say about the same thing about their pupil: he is excited and enthusiastic for the sport of archery and very eager to learn.
“He is a very focused young man,” said Raymond’s coach, Bill Lee. “To learn to pull the string back is one thing, but to get into the mental game of archery is something entirely different.”
“I’m just excited to be around and see Raymond grow,” Lee added.
Currently, Raymond is training for the 2014 Washington State six-week mail-in, where competitors shoot once a week for six weeks then mail in their shot targets for a score. Unlike other tournaments, where an archer gets rated based on their performance over a weekend, this tournament measures an archer’s performance over a longer period of time.
Story and photos by Natalie Covate