(Las Vegas, NEVADA)--A Las Vegas archer, one of the top in the state of Nevada, is hoping to represent American Samoa or Samoa in the 2016 Olympics Aug. 5-21 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. With his recently purchased Olympic recurve bow, 30-year-old Andrew James Faga is training day in and day out – all the while hoping for a spot on either Samoa’s Olympics squad – whichever team will have him.
“Samoa or American Samoa, it doesn’t make a difference to me,” Faga told tautalatala.com. “I just want to represent my people. I just want to represent Samoa. That’s my dream.”
Called DruJames by his friends, Faga was born and raised in the United States, a native of San Jose, Calif. His last name Faga means “shoot” in the Samoan language. From Indian Springs, Nev., he’s a former football player for the University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV) Running Rebels (2000 to 2005).
Faga graduated from UNLV with a bachelor’s degree in sociology and a minor in psychology. He is chief executive officer of Indian Springs Community Services, a company that provides a mentoring and recreational activities program for youth.
His parents are: Mr. Sopemumu T. Faga from Alao, American Samoa and Mrs. Pendora S. Faga from the Mageo family of Pago Pago, American Samoa.
“To be honest with you I was never into archery until…May of 2012 when a very special person to me… allowed me to use an extra compound bow he had lying around. It was a Chronic Redhead by BowTech,” he recalled. “Well, who would’ve known from the first time I picked up that bow, and shot it, that I’d be hooked?”
In June of 2012, good friends, the Egan family to be precise, pitched in to help Faga upgrade his equipment and he garnered enough support to purchase a BowTech ‘Assassin,’ the bestselling bow in the history of US-based acrchery manufacturers BowTech.
“Since then, I’ve competed in local leagues at the Clark County Shooting Range and have finished off in the top 95 percentile of all shooters,” he said. Faga trains with Danny Nelson, archery program coordinator and archery range master at the Clark County Shooting Complex on N. Decatur Blvd in Vegas.
“My goal is to compete in every upcoming tournament across the nation representing BowTech,” he said. “However, BowTech does not design an Olympic Recurve which will be needed to compete in the 2016 Olympics. BowTech bows are designed and well respected for bow hunting compounds [and] I love the product, however, it’s another brand I plan to utilize for the Olympics in 2016.”
It took a great deal of research for Faga to find just the right recurve bow that best suits him and his style. His Olympic Recurve Bow was purchased just last month.
“After doing a great amount of research on recurves and prices, I found my competition bow,” he said. “I recently purchased my Olympic Recurve Bow and am ready to put it to use. It’s a secret...my new recurve bow has a lot of appeal to it. I can’t wait to start shooting the lights out.”
As far as training goes, Faga says he is at the shooting range daily from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
“Most of the time they have to kick me out of the range,” he said. “I’m addicted to archery and I have the stamina to shoot all day. I train daily with my bow and aim for consistency on all levels of archery.”
For core training, Faga works out 4 to 5 times a week at 24-Hour Fitness, a commercial gym franchise with branches all over the country. He recently added Yoga to his training regimen, “to help with my breathing and self-control when I’m behind my bow,” he explained.
“Archery is not a physical sport to me, but a very mental sport which can cause fatigue at times,” said Faga. “Being a great archer does not come easy. It takes hard work and dedication and also strong mental control.”
Asked why he wants to represent Samoa or American Samoa, Faga says he wishes to promote archery among the Samoan youth who are more often urged to compete in contact sports such as football, rugby, boxing or MMA. He wants to bring awareness to archery and break the mold.
“As a young Samoan male, we’re brought up and encouraged to seek football, rugby, boxing or MMA. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with it and I’ve played football and trained in boxing but I’m ready for a new sport. To be honest, a less physical sport on my body,” he laughs. “I want to break the mold. Archery is a wonderful sport and a very competitive sport at that. Not anybody can just pick up a bow and be a great shooter. I was born in the USA, but I am very proud to be Samoan and would love nothing more than to represent my country in the 2016 Olympics.”
Faga says “you don’t find too many Samoan archers or hardly ever hear of any…so it’s hard for people to be interested in sponsoring an archer.”
“I’ve found one sponsor who is a great friend of mine,” Faga said. “He believes in me and was willing to assist me in securing my first competition recurve bow. Tautua Reed knows and understands my passion for this sport and I can’t thank him enough for allowing me to achieve in this particular endeavor of mine.”
Reed owns T. Reed Enterprise which manages world renowned song group Common Kings.
“I’m still searching for sponsors and would love to obtain the proper coaching in this sport to really put my mark in this world of archery,” Faga told tautalatala.com. “The sky is the limit, and with the proper resources, I feel I can compete with the best shooters in the world. I’m not out here to carry a flag in the opening ceremony with a smile on my face. I’m here to compete and win a medal. I have a lot of work to do, but I’m willing to do it, plus more. It’s a competitive sport and I’m a competitive person.”
With his dream in mind, Faga believes his “strong work ethic and determination will all pay off in the end.”
“When I have a vision and a dream, I capture it,” he said.
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