The first time I ever shot a bow I was only 5 year old, I had fun just flinging arrows at a target hoping I would hit it. I shot maybe once a month for fun, it was just something to do as a family when I wasn't racing my dirt bike. It wasn't till I was 9 years old that I wanted to give competitive archery a try. My mom and dad got me a new real bow so I could give it a try, it was a used Bear Apprentice 2 which wasn't a very expensive bow it was a real compound bow. I needed this type of bow to try competitive archery because the bow I had was kind of like a toy bow, but it still did shoot real arrows.
There was lots of things I needed to change on my new bow that I didn't have to on my old bow. My new bow had a sight, peep, kisser and D-loop; and you could change the draw weight and length. My old bow did not have any of this stuff that I had to do on my new bow. Once I got my new bow setup for me I liked shooting more because I was shooting closer to the yellow which made shooting more fun. With my old bow I was just happy if I hit the target.
My first competitive archery shoot was in January 2017 with the Ohio Archers Association, it was a 10 yard indoor shoot and I scored 186/320 points for 58% of total points. I had fun doing the shoot and I knew I wasn't going to win since it was only my first shoot, but I think I did really good for my first competitive shoot. When I saw that other kids almost had perfect scores, I was shocked and I knew I had to practice more so I could shoot like that too. I now had a goal, and it was to be able to shoot like the other kids and almost get perfect scores too. Over the past 6 years I have been racing motocross and I know in order to get better you have to practice a lot. If you can practice every day at something, it will make you better at whatever you are doing. And if you put in enough practice you might be able to be the best one out there.
In April I shot my first 3D shoot of the year and it was fun. One of the targets was a 30 yard target but I only had a 3 pin sight that was setup for 10, 15 and 20 yards. I aimed really high in the air on the target so I could try and hit it, but my arrow didn't reach the target. My arrow didn't reach the target because I didn't pull enough weight, and since I didn't pull enough weight my arrows wouldn't go that far. So I could increase my poundage, I shot and worked out even more than I did before.
If it wasn't for Rich Hardway at Black River Archery teaching me the skills of archery, I wouldn't be the archer that I am now. When I had problems Rich would tell me what I was doing wrong, and then would tell me what I needed to do to fix it. And the way he worked with me made me want to shoot a lot more than I already was. I would like to thank Rich for all the time and effort he put in with me so I could reach where I am now in archery, and hopefully in the future he can still help me too. I know he will though because he likes helping kids in archery, especially kids who train on their own, listen and does what he says.
In mid August I shot the final OAA shoot of the year, which was a 900 shoot. I scored 235/300 (78%) at 30 yards, 264/300 (88%) at 20 yards and 293/300 (98%) at 10 yards for an overall score of 792/900 (88%). The reason I shot 40% better at this shoot than the January shoot is because I practiced a lot, I practiced almost every other day instead of sitting on my butt playing video games! When I shot 98% of the points at 10 yards it made me feel really happy. It made me see even clearer if I practiced, practiced, practiced that I could shoot as good as the kids did in that first shoot in January and that was my goal for the year. And I was able to shoot Xs at 30 yards because I increased my poundage a lot because I practice a lot and did arm workouts to get stronger. I am almost 10 years old but only 49" tall, weight 52 lbs with a 17" draw length but can now pull 32 lbs which surprises most people.
Since 2017 was our first year shooting competitive archery, we did not leave Ohio for a shoot. But for 2018 we will be traveling to a number of states shooting NFAA, USA Archery and IBO tournaments; as well as Ohio Archers Association, Ohio 3D Group and other local shoots within Ohio. Then in February 2019 I plan on going to Las Vegas to shoot the Vegas shoot . This shoot will be special to me because it is in the same arena my brother Fin raced the Amateur National Arenacross Championships at in 2012 placing in 7th place. I think it would be special if we could go back there for me shooting competitive archery now. At Fin's race I said I would bring everyone back there so they could see me race like we saw Fin race, but that won't happen now since I put racing on the back burner so that I could become the best archer that I could be. I can't become the best racer I want to since I don't have a track in my back yard, I'm not home schooled and we don't have all the money that it takes to become a pro-racer; and it takes a lot of money to become a pro-racer. But I can train to be a pro-archer because I have a 20 yard target in my back yard, I can shoot at the LaGrange Hunt Club as far as my arrows will travel and can shoot up to 20 yards indoors at Black River Archery. With all these places to shoot at, I should not have an excuse that I didn't practice that day. Every week I plan on shooting at least 300 arrows so I can get even better than I am now, and I want to keep getting better and better and get sponsors like I had when I use to race motocross all the time.
Originally published in the November 2017 edition of The Young Archer Magazine