Young archer, 10, is determined to be Olympic athlete

Tristan Stepp (both photos) at the Big Sky Open archery tournament on his birthday, Nov. 2. He won first place in his division.
Courtesy Photo

Tristan Stepp (both photos) at the Big Sky Open archery tournament on his birthday, Nov. 2. He won first place in his division. Courtesy Photo

Granville Elementary fourth grader Tristan Stepp comes by his archery skills naturally. His dad Dave Stepp is a five-time world champion.

Tristan, 10, entered the Big Sky Open archery tournament in Mesquite, Nevada on his birthday, Nov. 2, and took first place in the youth amateur division for the second year in a row.

"This year he won it by 250 points," said Dave. "He beat two classes above him in points. If he would have shot with the 16-year-olds, he would have taken second."

Dave joked that next year he will enter Tristan in the money classes, because he would have won some cash with his performance this year.

The proud dad, who has won a total of five world archery championships between the International Bow Hunting Organization and the Archery Shooters Association, said a sponsor once gave him a miniature working bow as a joke. The bow, however, fit then 3-year-old Tristan perfectly.

"It was a real working miniaturized compound bow, 16 inches long," Dave said. "Tristan went through the motions of pulling it back, and when I saw he could do it, I kind of showed him how to put an arrow on there and shoot at a target a few feet away. He had that for a couple of years, and then lost interest."

Several years ago the family purchased the Mile High Archery shop in Dewey-Humboldt, and Tristan became interested in shooting again. That's when his natural ability began to be apparent.

"He would watch me, and emulate. He caught on real easy," Dave said. "He shoots a lot better than most adults. His main thing is that it's still fun for him. He doesn't put himself under a lot of pressure - he goes to have fun."

Tristan gives his dad a lot of credit for his ability.

"I look up to him to give me some pointers on what I'm doing wrong, if I'm standing wrong or if I need to change my sight or something like that," he said.

Tristan practices almost daily at Mile High Archery's indoor range, where, said Dave, he enjoys making a little extra money at the expense of good-natured patrons.

"He's a little shark," Dave said with a laugh. "He'll go shoot next to a guy, and purposely shoot bad. Then he'll bet a dollar, and shoot one in dead center. People know not to shoot against him, he'll take your money!"

Tristan has lofty plans for the new year, and is already entered in the World Archery Festival in Las Vegas in February. It will be his fourth year competing against archery shooters from all over the world. The tournament was his first-ever four years ago. The second year he placed in the top 30. Last year, he improved to number three in his 9-13 age division. This year, he plans a big win.

"In Las Vegas, I hope to accomplish first place and let people know that archery is a good sport to get into," he said. His passion for the sport is obvious - he wants to pass along his enjoyment.

"I think it's fun. I shoot with a lot of friends, and I like teaching them, and I like the competition," he said.

Tristan isn't content to stop with his desired first place win in February. His dreams are Olympic-sized.

"Going to the Olympics - that's what I want to accomplish with my life," he said.