Tioga teen archer is showcasing his talents on the world stage

Focus and attention to detail, plus countless hours of practice, have been the key to Hayden Constance’s ascent in archery competition on the local, state, national and world level.

Six years into shooting at targets with a bow and arrow, Hayden Constance found himself in worldwide competition in August 2023.

Hayden competed in two major shoots leading up to that International Bowhunting Organization World Championship in West Virginia. The 14-year-old outdoorsman from Tioga High School near Pineville rose to the occasion to finish second in the Middle School Male Division 3D 3-Star Challenge.

“It truly was exciting, most likely my most exciting moment, even if I was second,” Hayden said about the world championship tournament experience in West Virginia. “It’s an accomplishment. I did it.”

He remains as humble following one of the most prestigious events in competitive archery as he was before he and his family traveled to the International Bowhunter Organization tournament Aug. 9-11 at Cacapon Resort State Park in Berkeley Springs.

Hayden, the youngest son of David and Leslie Constance, was the lone archer from Louisiana finishing in his division’s Top 10. His qualifying scores in tournaments at Louisville, Kentucky, where he shot a career-high 295, and at Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, shooting 287, sent him on to West Virginia, where he notched a 284 for a three-tournament total of 866. The 292-archer division’s winner was Connor Blair of Fairfield, Ohio, Christian School, who grabbed the title with scores of 296-291-289 for a total of 876.

“Oh, yeah, he was pretty excited,” David Constance said about his son.

The talented teen also has competed on the Scholastic 3D Archery circuit for the “Top Shots Archery” team since 2020, as well as in the Archery Shooters Association since 2019. He has captured state championship and Shooter of the Year multiple times in both the S3DA and ASA.

The fundamentals

The key to his recent success? It’s all about fundamentals, Hayden said, citing loading, focusing, and taking it one shot at a time.

“Practice. It’s all about repetition. You’ve just got to keep focus,” he said, noting he practices nearly every day to try to improve his game. Middle school practice sessions were two hours long, he said, while high school practices are an hour long. And he also practices at home.

David Constance and his sons, Michael, center, and Hayden walk to their next shooting venue at the 2023 Louisiana ASA State Championship.

“I still have to be coachable, listen to what the coaches say. Even if I don’t notice it (a mistake in his routine),” the coaches do, he said.

His plan is to stick with the sport, to “try to be the best I can.” If the path he follows takes him to college to compete in archery, he’s all in.

“I’ll also look at opportunities in the future that archery can bring me to,” Hayden said.

His passion for the sport continues to grow since Day 1.

“I kind of started with dad, so … I never knew it would come to this extent. It hooked me, almost like second nature,” the high school athlete said. “I love it. I like it because I get to have time with family, coaches and friends. It’s just fun because it’s nice, welcoming competition. It’s about hyping each other up and enjoying the sport.”

Hayden is the youngest of three sons born to the Constances. His older brothers are Garrett, 17, a THS senior, and Michael, 15, a sophomore at THS. Michael also competes as an archer.

Hayden began shooting when he was in fourth grade.

Flanked by his father, David, and his brother, Michael, Hayden Constance, second from left, enjoys the awards presentation following his third-place finish in the 2022 NASP/ALAS Louisiana State Bullseye Tournament. Tioga archery coach Holley Pace, right, and a Tioga teammate were with him to celebrate the award.

“Every year he’s gotten better and better,” the teen’s father said.

David Constance wouldn’t get an argument on that point from in-state or out-of-state competition.

Biggest influences

Hayden praises the coaching he has had, first and foremost from Holley Pace, the veteran coach at Tioga Junior High School. Pace, a phys ed teacher, has built an archery powerhouse while also coaching various girls and boys sports during her career at TJHS.

Hayden also credits his dad, who has immersed himself into coaching the sport locally, for pushing him to the 295 recorded in Louisville. Now he has his sights set on an even higher score, a perfect score of 300.

Hayden consistently fired 290 to 292 for the past year. But for the longest time before that, he said, 290 was his goal.

Now, he said, “I’m trying to top 295.”

About Don Shoopman 567 Articles
Don Shoopman fishes for freshwater and saltwater species mostly in and around the Atchafalaya Basin and Vermilion Bay. He moved to the Sportsman’s Paradise in 1976, and he and his wife June live in New Iberia. They have two grown sons.