An Orlando native, Bruce Hicks has found his calling on the archery range. Training at Central Florida Archery Inc. in Winter Garden under the watchful eye of owner/coach Hendrick “Rick” Gouws, the electrical engineering major at Florida Poly hopes to make the cut to participate in the 2024 Olympics.
When did you first get into archery?
I started archery when I was a freshman in high school. I went to Apopka High, and it was the first year that they had an archery team there. They announced it over the intercom, and I was like, “That sounds cool.” I tried it out, and I really liked it, because it was a competitive team as well, so we competed against other schools around Central Florida. Senior year was when I really got into it, because I made some friends among the other schools and got really competitive with them.
What’s been your biggest obstacle when it comes to archery?
I trained really hard (my senior year) — I trained about eight hours a day over spring break. I actually trained so hard that I tore the tendon in my elbow, so that kind of sucked. I ended up getting gold in the state competition anyway.
How long have you been training at Central Florida Archery?
I met Rick (Gouws) because he helped out the Apopka High School team — he helps out pretty much all the school teams in Central Florida. I bought my first bow from him, he fletched all my arrows for me (and) helped train me a couple of times. Once I graduated from high school, that’s when I really got to know Rick, because I shot over at his range pretty much every day over the summer. He helped me buy my Olympic bow; he helps me train for the 2024 Olympics.
How often do you get to practice?
It’s an every day kind of thing. I can’t really make it to the range until after 6 p.m., because I’m in college still, and I’m taking summer classes — the range closes at 5:30-6 — so I have a key to the range, so I can just go in there and practice. On the weekend, I’ll go, and that’s when Rick will coach me, and we’ll discuss how I’m doing.
What’s been your favorite thing about archery over the years?
I never really think about that, because when I shoot, I just feel at ease. Archery takes so much concentration — it’s basically like meditating with a bow. My mind is blank, everything washes away, and no matter what is going on in my life, it doesn’t bother me when I’m at the range. No matter what, I have that and I feel so much better when I’m there doing it.