Collin Klimitchek shot arrows with uncanny accuracy at trees, his sister's rope swing and even grasshoppers resting on a leaf as a kid around his family's property in Texas.
At his first real practice, though, with his first real sighted bow, he sent one sailing well over the intended target. He turned to his father and remarked, ''There's something wrong with this bow.''
His aim has certainly been true ever since. The 19-year-old who once nursed a bobcat dubbed ''Roscoe'' back to health - along with a deer, an owl and a buzzard - is rapidly making a name for himself in archery. He's in fourth place heading into the final qualifying stage later this month in Newberry, Florida. The top three qualify for the Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
''It's going to take me shooting lights out,'' Klimitchek said in a phone interview from Chula Vista, California, where he's training. ''I'm just trying to focus on the next arrow and not let (making the team) get into my mind and affect my judgment or my focus.''
He's trailing Brady Ellison, Zach Garrett and Jake Kaminski. Ellison and Kaminski helped the Americans to a silver medal in the team event at the 2012 London Games, while Garrett is currently ranked sixth in the world.
The gap is relatively small, with Klimitchek just 6 1/2 points behind Kaminski for the final spot.
''There's definitely some pressure,'' said Klimitchek, who turns 20 on May 27 when the final qualifying stage kicks off. ''I've had a lot of success, just staying focused on myself and not worrying about the competition, trying not to worry about what the standings are. Just worrying about me making the best shot I can.''
Klimitchek took an interest in archery at an early age thanks to his father, Darrell, who competed in local competitions to stay sharp for hunting. A 5-year-old Klimitchek sauntered around the family's 40-acre home in Victoria, Texas, taking shots at anything that wouldn't dent his arrows.
He routinely hit grasshoppers on a leaf from 15 feet away.
Soon after, he took shooting more seriously and participated in the Junior Olympic Archery Development program.
He's been on an upward trajectory ever since, capturing a silver medal at the 2015 world archery youth championships. He's coached by Laval Dee Falks, his cousin, and trains in Chula Vista under the supervision of KiSik Lee, who's been in charge of the U.S. archery program since 2006.
They've recently adopted more of a scientific approach for Klimitchek, forcing him to relearn the way he releases an arrow. It's made him more accurate.
''I wouldn't be where I'm at today without their help,'' he said.
The mental coaching helps, too.
He struggled at the first stage of the Olympic trials last September, slipping into ninth place. Frustrated with his shooting, he went through a mental management program by Lanny Bassham, a gold medalist in rifle shooting at the 1976 Montreal Olympics.
''When you're in a high-pressure situation, thoughts creep in like, `Did I choose wind right?' or `Should I shoot this shot?' That's just poison,'' Klimitchek said. ''This helped me stay focused and stay positive.''
So much so that he worked his way back into the competition with a superb second stage that vaulted him into fourth place - and within striking distance of making the Olympic team.
''It's going to come down to me making sure I'm not giving up any points,'' Klimitchek said of his strategy. ''That I'm not making any shots I shouldn't.''
When he was a youngster, his family home became a shelter for ailing animals. They took in a bobcat (Roscoe) who was found in a brush pile, a raccoon (Ruby), an owl (didn't name him), buzzard (Wallace), squirrel (Squirreler) and a deer (Colleen) that they discovered behind an oil rig. They nursed the creatures back to health before releasing them into the wild.
To this day, the deer still returns to the family's property with her young.
His passion away from archery includes ''anything with adventure.'' More specifically, hunting, free diving and his newest endeavor, spear fishing. On his off days, he will swim about a half-mile off shore in San Diego to search for fish.
Little surprise, he's quite accurate.
''Spear fishing is a lot like archery: You have to stay calm and stay focused,'' Klimitchek said. ''If your adrenaline pumps too hard, you're losing oxygen and it's one less second under water. It really helps translate over to archery, where one arrow may mean making the (Olympic) team or not.''