If 11 years ago, someone had told me what I would being doing in the future, I would have never believed it. You may be asking yourselves, “Why did she choose to say ’11 years ago’? What about 10 years, or 5 years?”. 11 years ago (or when I was 6 years old) I shot a bow for the first time. I have my dad to thank for that, for dragging me into the Archery Shoppe with him and my brother while my mom was at work. My dad and my brother were practicing for the deer tags that they drew for here in New Mexico. A few weeks later, my dad drug me back into the Archery Shoppe to start going to Wednesday night JOAD with my brother. Like most kids, I was involved in so many activities in and out of school. I played the piano, tried cheerleading for a while, played basketball and volleyball at school, and I played little league softball for 7 years. At the time, archery wasn’t of my top priorities. Little did I know that it would later become one of the most important things in my life.
Every year, USA Archery Indoor Nationals is held in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, until 2015 when my club hosted it here in Albuquerque. Thus, for the past 7 years I have shot Indoor Nationals. Until I was 12 years old, Indoor Nationals was the only tournament I would shoot, just because it was the only one I knew about. However, in 2011, I found out about The Vegas Shoot and have gone to that tournament ever since.
In 2013, I started working with my coach Bob Romero, a level 5 NTS coach, who introduced me to outdoor target shooting. During one of our practices, Bob talked to me about going to the 2013 SoCal Showdown and the 2013 World Archery Youth Championships (WAYC) team trials to try out for the team that went to China that year. Of course, I was excited but little did I know I was not prepared. From April until June, I worked with Bob and prepared for the trials, making changes in my form and in my equipment. Not only was this going to be my first trials but it was also going to be my first USAT tournament and my first ever outdoor tournament. Needless to say, I didn’t shoot as well as I wanted too, but I am very grateful that I got that experience because it definitely motivated me to practice more. I went from only practicing about two or three days a week to practicing almost every day, and shooting more blank bale along with it to practice my form and technique. This is when I gave up softball in order to be able to practice more for the upcoming indoor season and following outdoor season.
I had my heart set on making a world team. Indoor is all I ever knew how to shoot, that is until Bob introduced me to outdoor tournaments, so I figured I would have a pretty good chance at making the junior team to go to the 2013 World Archery Indoor Championships (WAIC) in Nîmes, France in 2014. The trials for this shoot was in December of 2013, in Gainesville, Florida. From July until December, I practiced nothing but indoor. Anyone who knows me knows that I will never wake up earlier than needed. However, a few times during these few months I even got up early before school to shoot blank bale. If that’s not dedication, I don’t know what is. J During the trials, I ended up finishing in 4th place, which means I ended up as the alternate for the Compound Junior Women’s division. I had tough competition at this tournament and I knew that going into it, so I am proud of how I shot even though I didn’t make the team.
My perception of how I shot at the WAIC team trials raised my confidence in my shooting as a whole. During USA Archery and JOAD Indoor Nationals a few months later, I ended up ranking 3rd in USA Archery Indoor Nationals and 1st for the JOAD portion in the Compound Cadet Women’s division. My third place ranking from indoor nationals helped my USAT ranking a whole lot. After indoor season, I practiced really hard for outdoor season, since this was my first time trying out for the cadet USAT team. I ended up going to 4 out of the 5 outdoor USAT shoots. At both Arizona cup and SoCal Showdown, I
placed 5th overall. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to attend the Gator Cup. At the Easton JOAD Nationals, a required USAT tournament if you want a ranking, I qualified in 11th place after a rough day one. After day two, I moved up to 7th place. However, I won all of my elimination matches and finished in 1st place. This tournament reminded me that if you persevere, anything can happen no matter what the conditions are. At the Texas Shootout, the last USAT shoot of the year, I qualified in first place and won all of my elimination matches. A few weeks after I got home from Texas, the official 2015 USAT rankings came out and I finished in 1st place for the Compound Cadet Female USAT team! I learned so much during my first outdoor season, but most importantly I learned that lots of practice and hard work pays off.
Outdoor season was finally over, and I was so excited to go back inside to practice for indoor season. I shot at the range just about every day, in addition to shooting indoor leagues at the Archery Shoppe on Thursday nights. Last year, one of my major archery struggles was that I never wanted to shoot blank bale because the target was in my garage, but it always seemed to be freezing when I would go in there to shoot. Finally, I convinced my mom that I’m not going to shoot the window or the wall in my room, so she let me set up a blank bale target in my room. This helped me a lot because I shot a lot more arrows daily and it helped me improve my shooting. In 2015, The Vegas Shoot was my first indoor tournament of the year and I decided to try out the new Championship Young Adult division so I could compete against the boys. Even though I didn’t place as high as I had wanted, my shots were feeling really good, I’m happy with how I shot and I missed first place by only two points. Plus, I gave all the guys a run for their money, so that’s was an added bonus. A couple of weeks after The Vegas Shoot was USA Archery and JOAD Indoor Nationals, held here in Albuquerque for the first time ever! I decided to move up into the Compound Junior Women’s division for this year. The new venue was amazing, the lighting was great, and I shot some of my best scores ever. The first night at JOAD nationals, I shot my personal best for a 600 round. The next two days were USA Archery Indoor Nationals. I ended up shooting another personal best for a 600 round on Sunday, and a personal best for the 1200 round. Once all the results were in, I ended up taking 1st place in JOAD Indoor Nationals and 2nd place in USA Archery Indoor Nationals, which I was super happy with since I shot up a division. As usual, by the end of February I was anxious to start shooting outdoors again.
Unlike last year, I attended all of the outdoor USAT shoots. I shot in the Compound Junior Women’s division for all of the tournaments except for Gator Cup, because I wanted to try out for the Compound Cadet Women’s world team. At the Arizona Cup, I ranked in 5th place, just like last year. At the Gator Cup and 2015 World Archery Youth Championships (WAYC) team trials, I qualified in 2nd place, and also made the world team!
6 weeks later at the WAYC, I qualified in 6th place, but I wasn’t satisfied with how I shot in the wind. Unfortunately, the next day during elimination matches, I lost my first match. On the bright side, our Compound Cadet Women’s team ranked in first place and we also broke the previous world record by 36 points! That meant that we automatically were in the semi-final matches for our team eliminations. On team elimination day, our team shot amazing and we ended up winning our first match against Australia, which meant that we got to shoot in the finals venue for our gold medal match against Mexico the next day on compound Saturday! The finals venue was such a great experience and it was such an honor to get to shoot in it. My team, consisting of Dahlia Crook, Breanna Theodore, myself, and Braden Gellenthein as the coach, had a great rotation and we all worked amazing together. We even shot a perfect score on one end during our gold medal match! We ended up winning the gold medal and
now we are all considered world champions and world record holders! I could not ask for better teammates to share such a great experience with.
A short three days after I got home from Yankton, I left again to go to Chula Vista, California for the 2015 SoCal Showdown at the Chula Vista Olympic Training Center. Shooting up as a junior again, I qualified in 1st place and I was very happy with how I shot, especially because it was starting to get windy towards the end. While I wasn’t shooting, I got to stand in the coach’s box for my recurve friend, Rowan. I’m proud of how she shot and I never knew how nerve-wracking it is standing in the coach’s box, looking through the scope, and waiting for the arrows to be shot.
A week later, two of my good friends and JOAD teammates suffered through the 20 hour drive to Decatur, Alabama with me for the 2015 Easton JOAD Nationals. Although the drive was long and horrendous, my friends and I made it fun for ourselves and we kept each other entertained. I have never heard of a tournament with so many weather delays. After all the arrows were shot, I finished qualifications in 5th place and eliminations in 3rd place. Although I struggled in the wind and rain, I’m happy with how I came back and stayed strong in my elimination matches, despite having some equipment issues with my bow. I also came away with the Grand National 2nd place medal in my division. One special highlight of that tournament was that I got to coach my friend Daisy, who shoots in the Bowman Female Compound division. Since she shot qualifications at the same time that I did, I didn’t get to coach her during qualifications but I got to coach her during her elimination matches. I think I might’ve been more nervous coaching her than she was shooting! Daisy also won the bronze medal for eliminations.
One week later, I flew off to Rome (and yes, Rome, Italy, not Rome, Georgia), for the second leg of the European Youth Cup with the compound and recurve Junior Dream Team. This was my first international tournament and I could not have been any more excited about it. I knew it was going to be a trip that I would always remember. Luckily, we got a few practice days to get used to the time difference before we had to start competing. . On qualification day, I shot in the afternoon so it was pretty windy. Although my scores were lower than they had been in practice, I ended up qualifying in 3rd place in the Compound Cadet Women’s division and I was the top qualifier in my division for team USA! This meant that I qualified to shoot mixed team, which consists of the top ranking male and the top ranking female from each country in each division. During individual elimination matches, I won one and lost one, finishing in 7th place overall. However, during mixed team eliminations, my teammate Kevin Clayton and I ended up winning the gold medal match against Estonia! We got to shoot in the finals venue at the Olympic Stadium, which was such an amazing experience. Just think of all of the historical moments that took place where I shot! Also, the Compound Cadet Women’s team, consisting of Brooke Miller, Kinzie Thomas, and myself ended up winning the silver medal. While we weren’t shooting, we got to explore Rome a little bit. We got to walk around by our hotel a little bit, eat pizza and gelato, and one night we got to go on a tour bus which took us to the colosseum, a plaza, and a few other historical sites. It was such a great experience meeting new people from different cultures and I’d love to do it again.
It seemed like this summer had flown by, and I wasn’t ready for it to be over. Luckily, we still had one more outdoor shoot of the year, the Texas Shootout. On qualification day, I shot in the afternoon, and as usual, the wind started to pick up as soon as we started scoring. I tried my hardest to stay strong in the wind, and I finished in 2nd place in the Compound Junior Women’s division! Although I
didn’t shoot the scores that I wanted to shoot, I still had fun with my friends and made the most of the last outdoor shoot of the year, but I was ready to go back inside and start practicing for indoor season.
These past few years have been nothing but adventures. Even if I don’t shoot my best at a tournament, it motivates me to be better and work harder than ever. I could never come up with the words to phrase how gracious I am to have such amazing people in my life. My parents are amazing and somehow they still tolerate me even when I’m in a bad mood after a bad day of shooting. My coach, Bob, has helped me a tremendous amount and I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for him. My family and friends are fantastic support and I’m so thankful that they still believe in me even if I don’t perform my best at a tournament. Also, I would like to thank all of the wonderful companies that make the best equipment that I could possibly shoot. Finally, I would like to give all the glory to God because none of this would be possible if it wasn’t for him; I can’t wait to see what else he has in store for me during these next few years.