Archery has Meredith Lathbury dangling by the string of her 35-poundrecurve bow.
The talented 20-year-old Severna Park resident engaged in her first major competition in March of 1990.
And nearly two years later, her natural ability has contributed to a meteoric rise.
She now has a shot at making the summer Olympicteam, but her aim isn't quite as true as she thinks it has to be.
"What I think I need is that tournament experience, because when I'mpracticing, I tend to goof around," said the second-semester junior at Penn State University.
"But when you're in a tournament, you have to be completely focused and concentrate, and when you're done, your brain is oatmeal. To achieve the basics and get into the habit of being focused -- that's what makes a successful archer."
For Lathbury, the lure of archery is two-fold. She loves both the competitive side and the side that offers peace of mind.
"You can sort of get into a groove with it," said Lathbury, who turns 21 just nine days before the collegiate nationals begin on April 18.
"But there are different levels of archery, and once you've achieved a certain level, you realize the opportunities that are there for you. I've gotten to the point where I realize what's next."
What's next for Lathbury is a possible berth on the 1992 Olympic archery team. However, the question for Lathbury remains, is she willing to do what it takes to getthere?
"I haven't committed to it," said Lathbury, who admits that when she took aim for the first time, she began it only as a hobby.
Yet, she is always into something.
As the vice president of a large archery club in which she's the only member who uses a recurve bow, Lathbury is responsible for organizing weekly meetings and running the "open shoot" twice a week.
She also plays the viola with the Penn State Philharmonic and professionally for the Nittany Valley Symphony, in addition to working part time at one of two area grocery stores "out in the middle of nowhere."
All this while maintaining a 3.67 grade-point average as an economics major, minoring in political science.
"I get involved with a lot of different things, and I like to keep myself busy," said Lathbury, who plans to attend law school.
"If I gave up everything else and did just archery? Yeah, I could make the Olympic team. But I love music, and I love school. And I feel like this is a point in my life where I really can't give up those other things.
"There's an uncertainty about archery. Music --I've done it for 12 years, and I have a very solid idea where I'm going to come out.
"Archery, I came out of the woodwork, and people are still like 'who is she?' Yeah, the Olympics are a big deal, but it's not big enough."
The university's club sports chairman, Vance McCullough, once dabbled in archery and has offered to pay Lathbury'sairfare to the May 10-15 Olympic Trials in Arizona.
"The fact that Vance is willing to give me money to go out there is a good indication that he has faith in me," said Lathbury of the sponsor who paid entirely for her trip to last weekend's eastern nationals.
Lathbury, who took fifth place in the November Mid-Atlantic regionals, said, "I'm not completely positive whether I'm going to (to the Olympics) or not. I've got to wait and see how I place in collegiate nationals."
It was in last weekend's eastern nationals, after her sixth-placefinish among collegiate women, that Lathbury was approached by Olympic coach Julia Bowers.
A while back, the same Julia Bowers unsuccessfully tried to entice Lathbury with a scholarship to archery power Millersville (Pa.) University, where Bowers also coaches. Lathbury turned down the scholarship offer to attend Penn State, but this time, she gave in.
"She was like 'collegiate nationals are in April again,' and she gave me an application and directions," said Lathbury.
"I keep getting sucked into it."