PURSUING a craft or hobby at the age of 50 is not an easy task, especially while holding a day job, but for Pietermaritzburg resident, James O’Neill, his age did not stop him from becoming a master archer.
O’Neill picked up his first bow after taking his son to the PMB Archery Club and since then has excelled in the sport and competed in various world championships around the world.
“I was 50 when I first took my son to the club for lessons and while he participated I didn’t want to stand around and do nothing so I joined in,” said O’Neill.
O’Neill, now 59 years old, has competed in various events around the world and recently returned from Switzerland where he competed in the Masters World Championship and placed 13th indoor and 17th outdoor, and as a result he is proud of the success he has achieved over the past nine years.
He also won a gold medal in Romania where he competed in the Veterans Male Field Unlimited.
“South Africans tend to do well in the sport of archery,” said O’Neill humbly.
Now an avid member in the PMB Archery Club, O’Neill said his son and daughter have their South African colours in the sport and placed in the top 10 in Las Vegas in a recent competition held there.
“We encourage children, both male and female, to get into the sport and we even run a club on Saturdays at Epworth School,” said O’Neill.
Crediting his success in the sport to hours of practice and dedication, O’Neill said that his daily routine is to come home and shoot up to 150 arrows and then head to the club to practice again.
“For me it is a therapeutic activity. It relaxes me after a long day,” he said.
“At my age you would think there’s nothing more that you can do, but if I can pick up something so late in my life then anyone can,” said O’Neill.
The PMB Archery Club hosts training on Mondays and Wednesdays from 7pm to 9pm and can be found at the Natal Carbineers Ground. For more information, contact O’Neill on 083 440 3189.