My archery journey began in 2016 at the age of seven. I had never even heard of the sport until I went to a mother daughter retreat with my mom at a Christian camp called Forest Springs. The archery range looked pretty interesting, so we decided to give it a try. Immediately, I loved it!
When we returned to my hometown of Wausau, WI, I told my dad I wanted to get into the sport. The next day, he took me to Gander Mountain to get a lime green Bear Bow that came with a few arrows. We also picked up a tiny target. We set the target out in front of our house so I could try. I didn’t do very well, but I still enjoyed it.
It had been about a month since I got the bow and something was clearly not right. No matter what I did, all my arrows would go to the right. So, we went to the archery store closest to us. Right away, the store owner noticed an issue and asked me to try a left handed bow. We learned that even though I am right handed, I am left eye dominant when it comes to shooting.
That wasn’t the only problem. At the time, I was using my fingers to release the arrow, but the owner said that I needed to learn how to shoot a trigger release. I had never heard of it, but I gave it a try. We walked back to the shop range, and I shot a camo Mission bow with a trigger release. It felt strange, but I shot a lot better. That day, we walked out of the shop with a new bow, a new release and even a new set of arrows.
I shot outside once or twice a week for about two months. I got to be pretty decent and even shot my first robin hood! Since winter was coming and I wouldn’t be able to shoot outside, we became members at the Rib Mountain Bowman, one of the oldest archery clubs in northern Wisconsin that happens to be a short drive from my house. There, I started shooting three times a week.
At this point, I grew out of my Mission bow and needed a bigger one. A new store called Chase Outdoors opened nearby, so we decided to go check it out. We looked around for a little bit and spotted a small BowTech bow. A shop helper handed me the bow to try. I took a couple of shots, and they felt nice. The shop was closing for the night so we left without getting the bow. After a few days of thinking about it (and me behaving) we decided to go back and get the bow so we could set it up before my first tournament.
My first tournament was the Badger State Games in January 2017. I shot a couple of bad shots and one zero from a failed let-down. But, I also shot the 3D event and placed third. I experienced lot of ups and downs at this tournament, but I had a very good time and knew I wanted to compete more.
While I was improving at the sport, I was in need of lessons to take my game to the next level. The closest place to get lessons was Bucks & Bulls Archery LLC in a nearby town called Stevens Point. There, I met the world’s best archery coach, Gary Hintz. After only one lesson, I was making huge progress. I started to visit Bucks and Bulls not only for lessons but also to practice.
One night, Gary started talking about how he and a bunch of other archers at his shop were going to the biggest tournament of all, The Vegas Shoot, where thousands of archers from all over the world compete. Even though I was very new to the sport, I was intrigued by this tournament and so were my parents. They decided that The Vegas Shoot would be a great way to take a deep dive into archery. I had never even shot 20 yards before, but after a month of hard work, I was ready. In Las Vegas, I discovered the world of archery. From the trade show to how the tournament works, that was a tournament I will never forget.
After Las Vegas, I shot a few more tournaments before my coach Gary decided it was time for me learn how to shoot a back-tension release. It was definitely a challenge, but I knew it was a good release. In fact, it’s so good that I even shoot it now!
My skills were evolving, and I was on the lookout for a new bow with more advanced features. My favorite color was and still is purple. I really liked the style and performance of Hoyt bows, so we ordered a purple Hoyt. The 2017 NFAA National Target Championship was coming up and my bow came in only three days before, a risky choice considering I had very little time to practice and get used to it.
Outdoor Nationals was a very special tournament. At this tournament, I had to shoot at 30 thirty yards! I did well at every distance and became a better archer by a long shot. I also discovered the feeling of pressure. This was because I had some tough competition. However, I competed hard and brought home my first national win! Gary was so proud that he had a cake waiting for me the next day at practice!
Fast forward to 2020. Practicing multiple times a week and competing in tournaments every chance I get has really upped my archery game. I have had a great run in the cub division of 11 years old and under, which I will age out of this year. Today, I shoot a Mathews Bows with a back tension release and absolutely love it.
The wins I am most proud of including S3DA Nationals this year, NFAA National Outdoor Target Championship in 2017, 2019 and 2020 and the 2017 State Games of America. I am also proud of the records I hold for WAA State Field and NFAA National Outdoor Target.
Archery is an amazing sport. I love every single tournament and all that I get to learn from the sport. Since that day back in 2016, archery has taken me to many new and exciting places for tournaments, given me a chance to meet a lot of new friends, challenged me in many ways and given me a great appreciation for archery gear and equipment. My life would not be the same without it.