Grace’s Archery Journey

By September 10, 2018Competition, S3DA

I was 10 the first time I shot a bow.

I got a Little Sioux bow for Christmas and I shot it probably 2 times. I was into riding horses and the bow sat in my closet. Fast forward 5 years, my mom saw a post  on Facebook about a local homeschool archery team starting up in Foley, Al. I’ve been homeschooled my whole life and thought it would be a fun way to make new friends. This is where my passion for archery began.

 

     In August of 2015 we pulled up to Graham Creek and quickly realized I was the only one with a Little Sioux.  Everyone else had a Genesis bow, which is what you use in NASP. The coaches saw through my toy bow and asked me to be on the team. We went to our local hunting store and bought me  a blue Genesis bow and some arrows. Practice was every Tuesday, but quickly I was shooting much more than once a week. By October the tournaments began, I was blessed enough to make it to state my first year!

This ended my first season of archery.

 

    I was excited for summer to be over and my archery season to start back. 2016 was the first year that ASA came to Graham Creek in Foley. Our NASP team had the opportunity to do the concessions during the 4 day tournament. I knew nothing about 3D shooting, nor did I have the right equipment. A few weeks before the tournament I talked it over with my parents and decided to go for it and shoot it. We once again went to the local hunting shop and bought me a bow. This bow was a PSE Stinger X Stiletto, the bow came in four days before Foley 2016. I shot like someone would shoot when you had absolutely no idea of what you were doing. My score improved from my first day to my second and I met some great girls, some I still have the pleasure of shooting with even today. After Foley, we gave it one more try and went to Augusta. As a family we realized that in order to compete with these talented girls, I needed some help.

 

     By the next season we did just that. There is an archery club in Pensacola that we joined and in January of 2017 we found an indoor range in Atmore, Al.

“God put both of these places in our path at the perfect time”.

With the support of the members at Panhandle Bowhunters and Archery Club and my coaches at Alabama Archery Academy I now had help! I was taught a shot process and how important it was to be consistent. Another thing I was taught was to set goals, each year make new ones. So I did just that! My goal was top 10 in one ASA, considering my last year it was a pretty big goal. I met my goal at Foley of 2017 and shot a total of 4 national tournaments that year! Me and my parents had no idea until spring of this same year that there were local tournaments all over the state for us to shoot through BHA and Alabama ASA. I shoot a lot of local tournaments and these tournaments helped to prepare me for the national tournaments. This is also where we started to meet the people we now call our archery family. The more I shot in these tournaments the closer we got with other archers and their families. I got my first buckle at the end of my 2017 3D season. I earned BHA  Shooter of the Year for Southern Zone. Looking back now I realize I had no break from archery after this season. This was also my last year where all I did was 3D. I was about to enter the world of S3DA.

 

     My 2018 season officially started in Oct of 2017 with the USA Archery Collegiate 3D tournament. I had just signed up with S3DA and they allowed us to participate that weekend. It was the first time I was around college archers. Before this tournament I’d never thought about shooting while in college. I came in third for high school girl pins and was on the podium next to two of my close archery friends. That was the beginning of my season and it was time to set goals before Foley. My goal for the 2018 season was at least 1 top five national finish, BHA Southern Zone Shooter of the Year, and I also wanted to go for ASA Alabama State Shooter of The Year. My coach Jeremy Blackmon is a big supporter of S3DA and he knows the amazing opportunities that are available to us young archers, so he encouraged me to add S3DA National 3D and Outdoor Championship to my list for the season. So from February to August me and my Hoyt Pro Defiant worked hard on the goals that were set. My parents, myself, and our dog Bonnie loaded up our fifth wheel and traveled from Alabama to as far as Illinois and North Carolina. We missed home and had a very expensive 6 months, but it was so worth it!

The experience I learned from all the different tournaments was amazing.

Besides that our archery family grew every month, we’d meet new people everywhere we went. Archery is such a close group and they are our people. In the end I got my top 5 in ASA, but I also came in the top 5 in both the S3DA 3D and Outdoor Championships. I got to experience my first shoot down, with that I realized it was time to work more on my mental game. This year I came home with third place for National ASA  High School Girls Pins Shooter of the Year, Shooter of the Year ASA Alabama State and BHA Southern Zone Shooter of the a Year. I’m so proud of my 2 belt buckles and just bought a belt so I can show them off! No break for me! We just ordered another Pro Defiant so I can start practicing for indoor competitions.

    As this is being written, I’ve just started my senior year of High School. It’s time for me to set life goals along with my archery goals. One of the amazing benefits of S3DA is that college archery coaches get the opportunity to watch you shoot. It’s been pretty cool to have some coaches come and talk to me about being on their team. Within the next few months, it’ll be time to make a choice. I do know whatever choice I  make, archery will continue to be my passion and a major part of my life.

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