In 2015, Macharia Ndegwa delved into the world of archery during his primary school years. The now 17-year-old discovered this sport through a newspaper article when his mother encouraged him to find an engaging weekend activity.
Beyond his archery pursuits, Macharia boasts multiple victories and podium finishes in swimming galas. He is an avid chess player affiliated with the Lighthouse Chess Club and also showcases his talents by playing several musical instruments.
What challenges have you encountered in this sport?
Archery is expensive, and that is why it is not so popular. A full recurve set (equipment consisting of the bow and arrow) costs between Sh145,000 and Sh400,000. You can hire bows for training purposes, but that will cost you Sh500 per day. I have 12 arrows and I can’t afford to break any of them. The other challenge is how to maintain focus even when you lack motivation, when you are injured, or when you fail to hit your targets. But you have to keep at it.
Kenya competed in archery at the Olympics in 1996, 2000 and 2016, but recorded average performances. How far do you plan to go with this sport?
I would love to represent Kenya in the Olympics. That would be a great honour. So far, I have participated in one qualifier for the national team, but didn’t make it. I’m training hard so I can get better. To compete at the Olympics, I would need more advanced equipment and more intense training schedules. I’m going to do the best I can to reach my goal.
How easy or difficult is it to be a professional archer?
It is difficult, for a number of reasons. First, you have to be consistent no matter what. You need to develop sound shooting skills and display them every time you shoot. Also, there are very few locations where one can actually train. I only know of one permanent shooting range at Strathmore University, although there is a temporary range at Aga Khan Sports Club. If you do not live near any of these venues, training can be a huge challenge.
Has archery changed your life in any way?
This sport makes me think more clearly about what I am doing, and to make sure I’m doing it right. Because I focus so much on being in my best form every time I shoot, I can quickly spot mistakes in my personal life and make amends.
Who do you consider the greatest archer, and why?
Kenyan Kuki Anwar (Shehzana), who was the Kenyan flag bearer at the 2016 Summer Olympics. She is extremely selfless. She gives this sport her all, and is always ready to mentor beginners. She is also great shooting. I learn a lot from watching her train. She is the creme de la creme of archery in my books. I met her through her Instagram page and I am honoured to be training under her.
What has been your highlight and lowlight in archery?
My best moments are those times when I hit 9’s and 10’s throughout the day. I love those days. However, I get disappointed when I break my arrows. There are days when I break two within 20 minutes. This can be devastating. When I break arrows due to careless mistakes or due to bad luck, I struggle to regain confidence.
How do you juggle studies and archery at Strathmore University?
My studies are not that much of a hindrance to my training. If anything, I usually rush out to the range to refresh my mind before I go and revise, or even before I go home. I enjoy shooting and find that it is a good way to renew my energy.
What does your family think about your pursuit of archery?
My mother is extremely keen on my success. She is my biggest supporter. Archer is a bit foreign to them, but they like to watch me compete and also get excited to hear about the progress I’m making, which gives me a good confidence boost.
Apart from archery, what else do you do?
I play chess, and a couple of music instruments including the descant, alto, tenor recorder, and violin and alto saxophone.