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Michal Tyra is the new president of the UA archery team, and he is a man on a mission. The 18-year-old Middle Eastern studies major has given the team a complete overhaul, creating a fully functional and competitive team from a single member in a little more than a month--all in the hope of snagging the state archery crown from reigning archery champ and chief rival Arizona State University. For tournament schedule information, visit www.azarchery.com.

How long have you been shooting?

It'll be nine years now. ... It started in Cub Scouts for a merit badge; it piqued my interest from the start. After I got out of Cub Scouts, I started shooting at a local range with friends. Then I started competing in tournaments, and that's when I really got the bug for it; I got a coach and got serious. Now it's my goal to make the Olympic team in 2012. I've been training with the U.S. World Team coach, Mark Penaz, for six years.

What brought you to Tucson?

I'm from Phoenix. I shot with the (ASU club) team for a while, but I was never an official member. I came down here primarily for academics, but I'm also here to revamp the UA's archery team. It worked out well for me, because they've had a team in place for a while, but it's been floundering.

What did the team look like when you got here?

There was only one member, but he had to quit because of academic responsibilities. It was just me for about a week, and I've recruited 10 members so far. I typed archery keywords into Facebook, and a surprising number of people responded with interest. Anyone can join; all I require is that you have your own equipment. We can supply practice equipment, but we don't have the funds yet to supply for a competition.

Is it your No. 1 goal to beat Arizona State?

Right now, that is my No. 1 goal. It's not the overriding goal, but it's the one I'm looking forward to the most.

How do you plan to "recapture" the state?

Right now, I'm trying to develop their skills. I don't have time to break them down and build them back up. I don't have the time to completely rebuild to, say, develop the form an archer would have had, had he been shooting his whole life. So I'm trying to minimize their weaknesses and maximize their strengths. I'm also working on mental toughness by teaching them not to be caught up in the score, but to concentrate on their positives, to not worry about a bad shot but to focus on how they can improve.

So you're serving as both president and coach of the team right now?

Yes, right now, I am serving as the coach. I've been around highly skilled shooters my whole life. I know what it takes to be successful, how to advance and do well in competitive circles, and I try to pass along as much as I can to my team.

Is beating ASU a possibility this year?

It'll be a struggle, but we have the talent. Right now, ASU is a real power in the archery world; they have a lot of great archers, great tradition and great archery heritage. We don't have that yet. What we do have is the confidence not to know that we can't. We think we can--we don't know the word "impossible." It doesn't matter how tough they are; we'll find a way to get around it. We're a little lacking in experience and funds and equipment, but that's another issue.

And what is that issue?

At this point, we're in the process of looking for sponsors, from local businesses to international companies. We're not getting any money from the university; we're trying to be completely self-sufficient. But for our team to be successful, we need the support of the community, and not only financial. Coming out to the tournaments and being there for the team is a huge support. This is their team; we're shooting for them.

So are you considered a traitor, having practiced with ASU's team for a while?

No, because I made it clear from the beginning that I would be coming to the UA to start a team.

What is something that may surprise people about this sport?

Archery is generally not perceived as a very involved or technically difficult sport, but it really is. Most of what archery is, is mental. Even if your skill level is the same as your competitor, if you have more confidence than them, you'll beat them every time.

Could you shoot an apple off my head?

I could, but I'm not sure you would want to take the chance.

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