Trestan McGeorge is only 15, but with a bow and arrow in his hands, he's all man.
Slender and square-shouldered with lithe, steady hands, he has the quiet, deliberate manner of someone who spends a lot of time outdoors, and who has developed the skills it takes to feel at home in the woods.
He's a shy, good-looking kid, with shoulder-length red hair that neither his dad, Todd McGeorge, nor his grandmother like very much. But which, somehow, looks just right.
That hair is a statement. It says, "Look, I'm a nice guy, but I know how I like to do things."
It's probably that individuality, that sense of being strong and disciplined inside himself, that has made McGeorge, a sophomore at South Nodaway High School, a really good shot with a bow.
Competitive target archery takes an incredible amount of concentration and discipline, both physical and mental, but it's not really a team sport. You go it alone.
And it may be that individualistic streak which has allowed McGeorge to become very, very proficient at using the high-tech version of a 3,000-year-old machine to place a slender, pointed shaft inside a silver dollar-sized target at a distance of 30 or 40 yards.
In fact, McGeorge is such a skilled archer that a few weeks ago he made the Missouri 4-H shooting sports team, which will send eight teenage archers from all over the state to the national championships this spring in Grand Island, Neb.
It's not his first trip.
He's also made the state 4-H trap shooting team a couple of times. So, whether he's using a shotgun or a bow, if there's a target out there − or a deer − McGeorge is going to hit it.
He bagged two does this year during gun season and has hopes of bringing down a third animal before bow season ends.
When you watch him shoot from behind his evil-looking Mathews Z7 composite-limbed compound bow, flicking the trigger release with an almost imperceptible movement from one of those long, delicate fingers, you understand why.
The arrow explodes off the string at more than 300 feet per second, but the camo-colored bow barely moves as McGeorge's right hand rides gracefully over his shoulder in a perfect follow-through.
He shoots tight little groups into the tiny bull's-eyes with a consistency that would impress Robin Hood.
A lot of work went into that effortless motion. McGeorge started shooting with his dad when he was about 6 years old. Both father and son are still active in the Nodaho Bow Hunters club, which has an indoor range in Maitland.
While Todd McGeorge still enjoys archery, the days are long gone when he can go arrow for arrow with his son.
Page 2 of 2 - "Sometimes people ask him, 'aren't you shooting?'" Trestan said, a little embarrassed at his own story, "And he says, 'Nah, I don't stand a chance anymore.'"
So while his classmates are playing football and basketball, McGeorge is heading for the range or throwing shaft after shaft into a hay bale on his family's farm.
Like golf, archery is one of those sports that depends on the ability to repeat the exact same motion again and again without over-thinking it. Technique is everything.
"I guess it all starts with form and how you hold your bow," McGeorge said. "It's a challenge, and it requires a lot of concentration and skill."
But it's a skill he's nearly mastered, and, like any champion, McGeorge is already looking for the next challenge.
He currently competes in the compound bow division, but next year he's thinking about switching to a recurve bow, a more traditional form of the sport in which marksmen depend on eye, hand and instinct rather than space-age composites and precision sights.
"That will be really different," he said. "It's quite an adjustment, and making the switch to a recurve is very difficult."
But old-school or high-tech, one gets the feeling that what McGeorge really enjoys is archery's mix of solitude and camaraderie. Like a lot of individual sports, this one tends to be competitive and social at the same time.
"Everybody's competing to be No. 1, and that makes it fun," McGeorge said. "It's a competitive sport that's friendly. I've made friends from all over the state."