Justin Goslin shows his winning form at the Jackson County Sports Park’s archery range. Mail Tribune Photo / Jamie Lusch - Jamie Lusch

Teen archer sets sights on top prize

When Justin Goslin and his father, Ron, drive around town, every street sign, telephone pole and mailbox is a potential teaching tool.

From here to the mailbox? Thirty-one yards. No, wait. Thirty-two.

To the hydrant? Twenty yards to the tree, then another six to the hydrant. Think so? Grab the range finder and check it out.

"Whenever we're out, we kind of mess around giving yardages," says Goslin, 14, of Medford.

That's because the difference between 25 yards and 26 might be enough to have Goslin end his competitive youth career as Oregon's best young archer, or not.

He's going for the state triple crown of competitive archery this weekend when he takes aim at three-dimensional targets without the aid of electronic range finders during the Oregon State 3D Championships near Eagle Point.

Beekman Ridge Archery will host the two-day event that begins Saturday, and it's the third and last leg of the Oregon Bowhunters' annual tournaments. It's open to all shooters, but only OBH members can compete for awards.

About 150 participants will take one shot at 40 different targets each of the two days, logging points for accuracy.

The distances are all unmarked, meaning shooters like Goslin must judge exactly the yardage to the targets, which are imitation animals like those archers hunt in the wild.

With arrows flying at 350 feet per second, guessing wrong by a few yards could be the difference between Goslin's second state youth championship or being just another shooter in the crowd.

He won the state Oregon State Field Championships in June outside of Eugene and took second by two points in February during the Oregon State Indoor Championships held in Lincoln City.

A win — or enough points to top the three-championship tallies of other competitors — this weekend and Goslin repeats his 2010 finish as youth champion. Last year he placed second.

So, is that target 25 yards or 26?

It can really get to you mentally," says Goslin, a ninth-grader-to-be at North Medford High School. "It takes so much practice, so much concentration."

Compounding that are distractions such as other shooters, trying not to think about other's scores, and forcing yourself not to peek at other shots. There are built-in stumbling blocks, as well, such as shots from a platform used to imitate a hunter's tree stand and running an arrow through a hollow log between him and the target.

"You just have to get that mental picture of what's going to happen," he says. "But it comes down to guessing the yardage."

These are calculated guesses, though, built on a system as well as experience.

Like he does while deer or elk hunting, Goslin often judges his target's distances in pieces. For instance, he'll look at a tree and deem it 20 yards away, then ascertain the target as, say, 8 yards past that.

Once he determines the yardage, he uses his sights accordingly.

The actual shooting can be almost robotic. The wild card is distance.

Beekman holds monthly shoots, and Goslin regularly participates in them. But that, however, doesn't give him any home-course advantage.

"They always move the stakes around," Goslin says.

But this weekend's shoot will give him at least one competitive advantage.

"These shoots get you really ready for hunting season," Goslin says.

Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470, or email Follow him on Twitter at

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